Yes, we know it’s not a marketing related subject, but talk in the office this week has turned to our digital footprint – what information we leave lying around online – and what happens to our personal data once we shuffle off this mortal coil.

Ok ok, not the most cheerful topic, but it’s provoked some really interesting conversation between us and has had us thinking about what we stand to lose as the world becomes ever more dependent on digital.

What personal data do you store purely digitally?

There are two types of digital footprint: passive and active, but we’re really focusing on the latter here – the stuff we willingly load up onto our computers, share on social media and store in this handy and convenient place. So what sort if things are we at risk of losing? What used to be done offline, but is now pretty much digital?

Probably the most important collection of memories we now store online is photos – we load them up on Facebook, store them on the Cloud and stick them in files on our password protected devices. Then there’s our music – whether we buy digital copies or burn them onto our computers, people are becoming increasingly likely not to keep their hard copies, and that’s a whole lot of time and money that’s been invested which could go to waste if your loved ones don’t know how to access your storage portal.

Other personal data that leaves a digital footprint is our financial details – banking facilities, pension funds, tax accounts and even wills are more often than not managed online these days. Then there are those texts and emails that really matter – love notes, messages of support… with nearly all of our communications being sent over the internet, what happens when the inevitable finally happens?!

Making your digital data accessible to those that matter

Having all this data online is great in one sense, but with so much emphasis on security, how can you ensure that your friends and family can gain access to all your stuff once you’re gone? Or conversely, how can you retain your privacy if there are things you don’t want people to see – such as a collection of more ‘adult-orientated’ material?!

One member of the AMA team has already thought about this and acquired a password journal where she keeps all her details noted down for this very reason – omitting any that she doesn’t feel are relevant or wishes to keep fully private.

Obviously businesses have back-up systems, data storage capabilities and shared access to materials and information – plus other people in place to pick things up if ever the need arises. But on a personal level, it can be really difficult to be granted access to the digital accounts of our dearly departed.

With all this in mind, it seems prudent to prepare for the future – whether that’s storing your details somewhere where they’ll be found once you’re gone, along with instructions as to what you want doing with your digital data, or even declaring who will have access to what in your will, such as inheriting your extensive music collection.

It’s real ‘food for thought’, and we think it’s important not to overlook your digital footprint when it comes to planning for your eventual demise – we’d love to hear if you’ve taken any action in this regard, and what facilities may be out there for managing your personal data in this way!