File what? How to eliminate paper with “FileThis”

September 17th, 2014

I am often asked “how can I easily get rid of papers that enter the house?”  My first question is “what types of papers come in to the house?”  The typical answer is mail, bills, statements, etc.  The logical response is stop them from coming in to the house.  I mean, stop the physical papers.

File This Paperless Made EffortlessYears ago, I heard of a service called “File This Fetch”.  It is now called “FileThis“.  Not sure why they dropped the fetch but the service is the same… actually it continues to get better.  The gist of FileThis is you sign up for the service, connect your accounts (utilities, financial statements, pay stubs, etc) and File This fetches your statements and bills.  It then files them in a location you designate.  I will let you read about the security of sharing your log-ins.   I am not concerned about the security.  I have been sharing my logins with reputable sites like Quickbooks and Mint for years.  FileThis enables you to stop receiving the paper statements and bills and still keep them organized.

I was recently asked a bunch of questions about FileThis.  I figured many others may have these same questions.  Check it out.  See if FileThis could help you reduce the amount of papers that enter your home and helps you keep the documents more organized. (more…)

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Tech Tip Tuesday – Web-based storage

June 25th, 2013

So I like to tinker with technology.  Mostly technology that can help me and others increase productivity or simplify lives.  One of my favorite tech tools and lifesavers for the past few years is Dropbox.

Dropbox[1]Why did I fall in love with Dropbox?  It is easy.  Easy to install and mindless once installed.  I can access and share files stored in Dropbox from my home (PC) computer, my Android phone, my iPad or any web-connected device any place, any where.   I can also add files to my Dropbox from any web-connected device any place, any where.  I have the app on my Android phone set to automatically sync all photos taken on my phone to my Dropbox.  It keeps copies of my files on it’s cloud based servers.  I use it as my file back-up in place of Mozy or Carbonite back-up systems.  You may be asking if your files are secure on Dropbox.  A username and log-in is required to access your files in Dropbox.   They use bank-level encryption security.  That is not to say there will never be a  security breach as there have been with Dropbox but there also have been security breaches in major banks and the White House.

What is Dropbox?  It can be defined as a  file hosting service operated by Dropbox, Inc., a San Francisco based technology company.   Dropbox offers cloud storage and file synchronization across platforms . Users downloads software from the Dropbox website which creates a specified folder on their computer.  The folder (labeled Dropbox) can replace the Documents folder so when you save a file, you save it to the Dropbox folder.  It is a physical folder which lives on your computer’s hard drive.  Dropbox then synchronizes so that it appears in the same folder (with the same contents) regardless of which computer/web-enabled device is used to view it.   You can think of it as a virtual thumb-drive.

How much does it all cost?  Dropbox offers all users 2GB of storage free.  If you refer friends or colleagues, they give the referrer and referee 250MB bonus.  All links to Dropbox in this post will give new Dropbox users the bonus 250MB.  Users receive 250MB for each new referee they refer up to 16GB.  Yes, 2.25GB of storage may not seem like much but it is great to get you started and to test out the program.  If you think about it, you are only storing files on your Dropbox not software or programs.  (I do not back-up my music through Dropbox.  My music is backed-up through iTunes. ) You can purchase additional space.  100GB of storage is $99 yearly.  My Dropbox has 63GB.  I am only using 42GB.  I have never paid.  Huh, how?  In addition to offering bonus space for new referrals, Dropbox offers users specials from time to time.  Currently, Samsung mobile users can receive 48GB of free space for activating the Dropbox app on their mobile device.  The Samsung / Dropbox promo is valid until 11/20/2014.  There are numerous other ways to increase your Dropbox by getting free storage.

So you can add files to your Dropbox from your computer, your tablet and your phone but you can also add files to your Dropbox using email through  Send To Dropbox.  You give permission for Send To Dropbox to connect to your Dropbox account.  Once connected, they provide you with a personalized email address.  Whenever you find something you want to save to your Dropbox, you email it to your Send To Dropbox email.  You can also give other people your Send To Dropbox email address when they need to send you a file.  Once it is received by your Dropbox account, you can access the file by your computer or any web-enabled device.  Pretty cool?

If you are new to Dropbox, check it out.  Once you have had some experience or if you are a veteran Dropbox user, please let us know what you think.  What has your experience been?  Have you found any other cool ways to add to or access your Dropbox?

Portions of this post are excerpts from Wikipedia and the Dropbox website.

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Top 3 Trends in Past 3 Years

September 24th, 2010

Top 3 Trends in Past 3 Years (Part 1 of 3)

I believe there have been three major trends in the past three years that has changed the way we do things.  I will be sharing my insights over the next three weeks.  I’d love to hear your input and experiences.

1.    Reliance on Tech

We now live in a world where we constantly rely on technology to get us through each day.  If you are not a mobile phone user (do they still exist), you still rely on technology when you go to a restaurant, the post office, the bank.

We have all likely been to a restaurant that uses technology – a form of a pager to notify you when your table is ready.  Some restaurants take orders on a handheld device that automatically transmits the order to the bar or kitchen.  You can even place a take-out or delivery order from home without picking up the phone.

You can make calls without picking up the receiver or handset.  You can write checks, pay bills or transfer money via a mobile phone or notebook computer Skype logowithout getting in the car or spending money on a stamp.  While the security of doing any of these still has some vulnerabilities for the most part they are secure.  Some folks still fear banking online, even if you avoid it, the banks stores your information online.  Security online is one part of the equation, backing up the data is the second.

When I work with clients, sometimes they ask to go paperless and store everything on their computer.  I ask about their back-up plan.  Nine times out of 10 they have none or they can’t remember the last time they backed up, if ever.  When I ask why not, they either don’t know how or it’s too difficult or too hard to remember.  There are many options for traditional back-up.  Many folks purchase an external hard drive.  I have one.  While they are a great option, there are some downfalls.

External hard drive 1.    Your computer must be connected to the external hard drive for your back-up to be completed.
2.    You must create a schedule to back-up.
3.    They can get lost or stop working making it difficult or impossible to retrieve the data. (this happened to me, the drive stopped working and I did not know until I went to look for something on the back-up drive).

I still use an external hard drive to back up but I also use one of the the web-based options as well.  The two big ones are Carbonite and Mozy.  Both offer a free month.  Following you free month, their fees vary based on the size of the files being backed-up.  An additional option is Dropbox.  Dropbox is an online back-up and collaboration tool.  DropboxI prefer Dropbox over Carbonite or Mozy.  I like that you can access it from any online device (mobile phone, pda, iPad, iTouch, notebook or desktop computer).  There is an app for the iPhone/iPad/iTouch and Android phones.  From any of the devices you can access anything in your Dropbox as long as you have internet access.  The Dropbox folder does reside on your computer.  As you create or edit documents, spreadsheets, presentations, audio, video or pictures Dropbox saves a copy on to your computer and updates your Dropbox account.  It also allows you to share files and collaborate with other users.  You can configure your computer to save all files to your Dropbox folder.  The free account includes up to 2GB file storage.  You can grow your storage for free by referring friends, family and colleagues to Dropbox.  They reward both the referrer and referee with an additional 250MB of storage.  You can continue to refer until you reach 32 accepted referrals or 8GB of addtional storage space.   You may not think that is very much space but you’d be surprised.  Take a look at the drive where you store your documents.  I am a heavy user.  My Documents folder currently uses 4.38GB of space.  It includes documents, spreadsheets, presentations and pictures.

Why do I love Dropbox?  Because it is mindless.  I don’t have to do anything.  I work on a document or download pics from my camera as long as I am connected to the web … voila after a few seconds, it is saved on my notebook and it is updated on Dropbox.  I don’t have to schedule anything.  If thinks for me.  I love that it is intuitive and costs me nothing (at this time).  If my storage needs grow faster than my free Dropbox grows, the cost of purchasing Dropbox storage space is very reasonable (All three online back-up systems mentioned do offer a discount if you pre-pay for a year vs. month to month fees).  I love that my documents folder looks identical regardless if I am looking at it on my computer, notebook, smart phone or a computer of a friend or at a hotel when I am traveling.  I don’t know how it could get any easier.  I only recommend it because I use it and find it is the best product available that meets my needs.  Feel free to check out Dropbox and get a free 250 KB of storage space.  I’d love to hear your feedback.  How do you protect and back-up your information?

Are you reliant on technology?  Share with us how technology shapes your life and has changed the way you operate on a day to day basis.

Stay tuned for #2 and #3!

Kim Oser

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