In the third article in a series of three about home inventories, learn about how technology is changing how you can safely keep track of your valuables through innovative online solutions. Be sure to read our other articles on the importance of having a home inventory as well as how to get it done quickly and easily.
A Brief History of Home Inventory Methods
Once upon a time, pen and paper seemed to be the answer for every type of list or record-keeping. This included home inventories, which have always been recommended by insurance companies and real estate agents as a way to account for valuables in case of theft, fire, or natural disaster. Since the only record was on paper, most homeowners and renters put their copies in a safety deposit box at a bank or somewhere away from the home in case the dwelling was damaged or destroyed. The only problem with this method was the difficulty in updating the list on a regular basis because it required more time and effort to retrieve it.
Then, society took a big leap with technology. Computer programs and the personal computer led to the construction of spreadsheets as well as other software applications and photos kept in digital libraries. Suddenly, it was much easier to update a home inventory, increasing the likelihood that more people would develop home inventories and regularly update them as new items were purchased. Even when hiring someone to do an inventory, homeowners would receive everything on a disk or CD which was also recommended to be kept outside of the home. Back to the safety deposit box!
Technology Creates New Problems
While these methods all deliver some benefits, they are not the most efficient and not always reliable. Keeping this type of critical data in a computer folder leaves it vulnerable to hard drive crashes as well as forgotten back-up sessions, viruses, and spyware corruption. Thieves can even come in and steal your computer along with your other valuables. Without your computer, your list is not very helpful since the thieves may now have it and the bank is closed, so you cannot retrieve any other copies of the home inventory for the police report.
Online Capability: Not Quite Perfect…But Close
New technology is raising the level of efficiency and reliability by leveraging the power of the Internet. The benefits of keeping your home inventory online are tremendous:
- Share your home inventory with others, such as insurance agents or attorneys.
- Protect critical data from hardware crashes, viruses, physical destruction, and thieves. No matter what happens to your hardware, your home inventory will always be available through the Internet.
- Make data more accessible than a safety deposit box so that information can be updated as often as possible from any location – home, work, or the other side of the globe.
- Reach your information on a 24/7 remote basis through a computer, PDA, or mobile phone. You don’t have to wait for a bank to open or worry about it being Sunday or a holiday. It’s just one website, username, and password away from your eyes.
- Print reports or transfer them to CD or another media storage device.
Finding the Right Online Home Inventory Partner
A few companies are popping up that offer this amazing capability. The cost can be as low as $29.95 per year with a 30-day complimentary offer – a true value and an excellent value considering the amount of technology and service that you receive.
While the Internet has its benefits, it has also increased awareness about identity theft and the ease with which personal data can be compromised. That is why it is critical that your information be protected and that you are assured that whatever online company you select provides a long list of capabilities that will keep your data safe. In deciding what online home inventory offering to select, be sure to look for these capabilities since it is An easy-to-navigate web portal with minimal clicks and understandable prompts to help you through the process:
- No additional software, plug-in’s or Java code to download, so you don’t lose disk space in the process or have software on our desktop that might conflict with other programs.
- There are no required service upgrades.
- Class A data center with data being backed up on a data basis. This is a center that houses state-of-the-art servers that are linked to an additional back-up system to offer a contingency plan for weather-related outages or other problems that might result in systems failure.
- Large data storage capacity.
- 256 bit high-grade encryption ensures that all sensitive data is protected and there is no way for anyone to gain access to payment, credit card, or billing address information.
- A clear policy on how privacy is protected, including the fact that the company – nor any of its affiliates – will have access to your personal home inventory files.
- Customizable password-protected web page that can be shared with selective people with the option of changing reports so that certain information can be shared while other data, including your billing or account information, is kept confidential and unalterable.
- A thumbnail of each image for easy location of specific items.
Additionally, you want to choose a company that provides you other value-added services beyond a home inventory, including maintenance and payment reminders as well as a library of useful information that adds value, protects, and ensures reliability to the biggest investment of your life.