What Is an Electronic Filing System?

Having an electronic filing system in place can prevent unnecessary frustration.

Having an electronic filing system in place can prevent unnecessary frustration.

Between emails, photos and documents, the amount of electronic media used today makes it possible to save and access almost everything electronically. It also means that many individuals are holding onto many more documents and files than they ever would have previously. To make it easier to access the information you need quickly and easily, it's important that everyone have an electronic filing system in place that works for their needs.


An electronic filing system is a method of organizing files and documents on a computer, network or email account that makes it easy to access and retrieve information. Computers are set up easily for an electronic filing system, with a series of folders for documents, photos, videos and other media that can be customized to a user's precise needs. Users can create as many folders and subfolders as needed to create multiple levels of organization.


One of the major drawbacks of not having an efficient electronic filing system is a loss of productivity. From duplicate files to outdated documents to improperly named files that seem to go missing without a trace, the lack of an electronic filing system can wreak havoc in the business world. Having a system at home is also important, particularly if you take a lot of digital photos or save important insurance or tax documents electronically.

How to Create a Filing System

The most important step in creating an electronic filing system is taking the time to plan out a system that meets an individual's or business's needs. During the process, map out the types of files that need to be organized and how you'll likely access them. There is no right or wrong way to create a filing system, but it should be logical and consistent.

Naming Files

An important piece of creating an efficient electronic filing system is using helpful file names. For items typically sought numerically, such as purchase orders or checks, you'll want to include relevant numbers in the file name. Likewise, documents such as publications, newsletters or personal letters should be stored in an alphabetical filing structure, in which the associated subject names are in the file name.


Having an electronic filing system is only helpful when the computer or network they're being stored on is working properly. In the event of a computer crash or power outage, it is critical that you have your data backed up to either an external hard drive, disc or virtual server. Once a backup system is in place, create a schedule for maintaining your data. In big companies, this may be as frequent as every few hours.

About the Author

Lynn Burbeck is a professional writer with over five years of experience writing for the Web. She has published numerous articles for print and online media including "Grit" Magazine. Burbeck holds a B.A. in journalism and political science.

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