Cloud storage for paperless documents

How does this group feel about storing all paperless docs in the cloud? Bank statements, bills from different companies, the whole enchilada.

I know not everyone agrees with this, but I prefer not to put documents with “sensitive” content into a public cloud location such as Dropbox, etc. It may well be sufficiently secure, but I don’t feel comfortable taking that chance.

I have a free Dropbox account, primarily because so many applications support Dropbox for things like sharing preferences across multiple platforms (MacOS, iOS, etc).

For syncing between my devices, I use my own cloud setup based on my Synology NAS and Synology Drive, which I have found to work quite reliably. Since the cloud server is my own NAS, I feel more comfortable with the security of my data. (I have also bought a license for ResilioSync which I may start using because it seems to better integrate into iOS than Synology Drive. Resilio Sync would be a good solution if you have multiple Macs and iOS devices but no NAS type device to act as the server/host for your personal cloud.)

I do feel very strongly about having a cloud backup solution in the event of theft, fire, flood, or some other disaster that wipes out my Synology and clones at home, and for that purpose I use Arq encrypted backups into BackBlaze B2.

Because I don’t want everything stored in Synolgoy Drive ()I really don’t need to have my electric bills from 5 years ago synced to every device!) I also have shares on the Synology that are separate from the Synology Drive storage where I store nearly 1.8 TB of stuff that I don’t need readily available. I can mount those shares while at home, or VPN in to my home network when out of the house to mount those shares for the rare times when I need access to that data.


I agree. If you don’t need to regularly access personal, financial documents from multiple devices, I do not see the point in saving them to the cloud, unencrypted. (I keep my backups at home unencrypted, so I’m taking a chance as well, but it’s a tradeoff I choose for data loss locally vs data theft.)

If I were iOS-only there wouldn’t be much choice, but external storage is cheap for PC/Mac users, and there’s little downside to keeping private data close®.

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I encrypt backups and save the key in 1Password. Now that I’m a subscriber, the key is safe in the cloud too, in the off chance that all my devices were stolen or destroyed.

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I don’t keep anything in the cloud, except that which is necessary to sync my calendars and so on. However, if I were ever to do so, it would be as @JohnAtl has described.

I thought we were talking about saving files to the cloud that were intended to be accessible, not backing up to cloud. Encrypting files intended to be accessible adds a layer of complexity, like when trying to read them on iOS.

Just out of curiosity, what is the reason for keeping utilities bills more than a few months? What can you do with a 5 year old electric bill? Is it something the tax office might need in case of an audit, or is it something else?

I am pretty vigilant about keeping receipts for items that come with a warranty, but I am really interested to learn why you need to keep so much paper (physical or as PDFs).

You mentioned your unencrypted home backup and the safety-convenience tradeoff.


Only thing in the cloud are bookmarks from Safari, some pictures shared from relatives on Google drive and several Scrivener documents in Dropbox that I’m jointly working on with other people.

Security is an issue for me.

OTOH a friend visited recently and had a different take on cloud security. Her personal security clearance information had been hacked out of government sites. Including the long form security questionaire that has basically your whole life in it. In her case she said nothing she ever did on a computer would be worse than what has already been hacked so she didn’t worry about it. But she also has a full identity theft recovery program paid for because of the loss of her sensitive data.

My data was swept up in the same OPM exploit and I received that identify theft service as compensation. It turned out to be more of an angle to try to sell us upgrades from the provider that OPM hired.

That’s too bad. Seems like the highest level of recovery protection should be the minimum compensation for that level of data breach.

The hacker(s) that have that info are specific. Reckless data management may open your friend to the teenager down the block getting that info too so I don’t buy that reasoning.

I do, however, have a less secure regimen than most so far. I let iCloud have my desktop and documents and photo storage. I use 1Password for keys and passcodes and every credit card company and mortgage refinance I deal with knows my bank balance so having a statement in there doesn’t bother me between being a low-value target, trust in Apple and that they need my credentials to do anything. Besides, my bank account and routing numbers are on every check and most other info is nearly public info.

I know most of you are having a cow right now but honestly I think if someone were to want my identity there are easier ways than hacking Apple.

We’ve all been hacked 7 ways from Sunday anyway. Prudent storage of personal data is important, but anyone that touches tech has no doubt been compromised.

That’s local, and that’s me.

For the OP and his using files in the cloud, I don’t think encryption is the answer.

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A chain is only as good as it’s weakest link. In this case, humans are the weakest link, mostly because we have not yet come to fully realize how to craft technology to work us, rather than us work for the technology.

Actually, I really have no idea why I keep bills forever. I just started scanning and shredding all of my paper years ago, and never bothered to set up Hazel rules to delete things, so there it all sits.

Since storage is so cheap (spinning hard drives, anyway) I just haven’t worried about it.

Some things do fall into the tax category, and I recall being told once that I should keep paycheck stubs for 7 years, which may or may not be true, but again, putting in the effort to delete a 32MB file containing a year’s worth of pay stubs just hasn’t fallen on my radar as of yet.

Of course I have all of my tax return submissions and supporting documents going back forever, and I could delete those after 7 years ago well.

One day I will get around to cleaning up all of this stuff.

I have found utility in going back a year or more, like when I was charting out my cell phone costs and data usage to decide on changing my data plan, and having all the bills handy saved me from redownloading them, but obviously it saved me maybe 20 minutes of downloading, so it’s not like the time spend saving them was suddenly recouped.

Perhaps a better question might be why any of us spend the time dlownloading and/or scanning any of these bills? Why not just pay them and retrieve them from the company website if ever needed? The cancelled check or bank statement serves as proof of payment, not the scanned bill. Unless you think that the electric company is sufficiently corrupt so as to alter its filed copy of your bill and you need your saved copy as proof of something later on, why bother?

In the big scheme, I have about 1.8TB of data. Overwhelming, this is music (back when I digitized all of the CDs and then sold them); home movies (obviously not replaceable); documents that I do need to keep copies of (wills, invoices related to home improvements that I will want when I sell my house and recompute the cost basis, and many other sorts of paperwork that I have the only copy of; my photo library [part time professional photographer plus scans of all the family photos going back several generations]; software I have written over the years; talks I have given; etc). The scanned bills are such a tiny fraction (data storage space wise) that I just haven’t worried about it.

I keep everything in the cloud but I use a mix of clouds, most junk goes in google drive and I keep the important stuff in an encrypted S3 bucket.

I keep all the old bills and stuff because I have this thought that one day I will run analytics on my life and maybe I want to know the exact amount I have ever spent on electricity in my life because that will enrich it in some way?

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What do you use to store the data in said encrypted S2 bucket?

I still have a manual workflow where I login to the google cloud console and do it because I have been to busy to roll my own service to do it.

Using a dedicated app to put the documents in the cloud for me would introduce an added layer of trust.

It would not be overly hard with a bit of knowhow to use hazel or some other existing Damon tool to trigger the upload via the amazon CLI, Link to CLI doc and the other major cloud vendors should have something similar.

I am not an Accountant BUT The 7 years is not a hard and fast rule it’s more iof an IRS guideline. Having bene the subject of many IRS audits they can and do go back further. Their tactic is to say “We suspect fraud” at which point all bets are off. FWIW I’ve never been found to have fraud or even underpaid taxes and all my various audits resulted in us getting a bit more $ back. But you may need topony up stuf from decdes ago.

Also, your idea that you can just get the data again from teh company Web site is false. Many places do not keep more than ayear or 2 of tyour statements, including your bank. And there are many reasons you might need it. One we used was utility bills to help qualify for solar system PV rebates. Had to go back several years for that.

Another can be when trying to see if you can add a biodigester and stop buying propane. You need multiple years of gas use along with weather data to size the system. So far it doesn’t pencil out but I’m keeping the data in case it does eventually.

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