eBay Business Tips for Protecting Your Data

By Marsha Collier

Your eBay business requires the same meticulous care for data as any other business. Here are some tips for protecting all the right data and keeping your records safe.

Keeping your records and data safe

The hazard of not backing up your computer is a tired subject. Whenever you hear someone talking about their latest computer crash, all the person can do is stare blankly into the distance and say, “I lost everything!” You’ve probably heard this cry from others (if you’ve not uttered it yourself): “If only I’d backed up my files!”

What about a natural disaster? It can happen, you know.

Reasonably priced, secure backup can be accomplished in the cloud these days through Microsoft OneDrive, Google, Amazon, or any one of a group of providers for a reasonable cost. Consider these — along with a backup drive on premises — for your own peace of mind.

Hopefully, you haven’t befallen a natural disaster or computer crash. It’s a horrible thing to go through.

What’s another horrible thing? A tax audit: It can make you feel like jumping off a cliff if you’ve been filing your hard documentation with the shoebox method. (You know, one box for 2011, one for 2012, and so on.) Filing or scanning your receipts and PDF backup documentation in an organized, easy-to-find format can pay off in future savings of time (and nerves). (Again: Back up these PDFs to the cloud.)

Backing up your data

You don’t necessarily need to go out and buy backup software (though it’s a good idea). But, you do need to back up the eBay transaction records and other data on your computer somehow. Consider the following points when choosing how to back up the data you can’t afford to lose:

  • Regularly back up at least your data folder onto an external hard drive.
  • Backup software can make your backup chores less chorelike. Most packages enable you to run backups unattended and automatically, so you don’t have to remember anything. (External hard drives come with their own sync software to handle this for you.)
  • Backup software doesn’t have to be expensive; System Image is included in Windows and will back up your entire hard drive. If you really need software, search Google with the term backup Windows. This query returned more results than you could ever need!
  • Consider making monthly backups of the info from your PayPal account. You can download the data directly from the site and can archive several years’ worth on the drive.

Saving your backup paperwork

Some business records are still paper, and until such time as the entire world is electronic, you’ll have some paperwork to store unless you scan in every document. You can buy manila file folders almost anywhere. If you don’t have filing cabinets, office supply stores sell cardboard boxes that are the perfect size to hold file folders. An external hard drive is a must for backup documentation as well.

And just what do you need to scan and file in your new organized office? Here are a few important suggestions:

  • Equipment receipts and warranties: You never know when some important piece of your office hardware will go on the fritz, and you’ll need the receipt and warranty information so you can get it fixed. Also, the receipts are backup documentation for your bookkeeping program’s data.
  • Automobile expenses: Gasoline receipts, parking receipts, repairs — anything and everything to do with your car. You use your car in your eBay business (for example, to deliver packages to the post office for shipping), don’t you?
  • Postal receipts: Little slips of paper that you get from the post office. If you use an online postage service, print a postage report once a month and file it in your filing cabinets or boxes as well.
  • Merchandise receipts: Merchandise purchased for resale on eBay. Documentation of all the money you spend.
  • Licenses and legal stuff: Important! Keep an active file of anything legal; you will no doubt have to lay hands on this information at the oddest moment. It’s reassuring to know where it is.
  • Insurance information: Policies and insurance proposals should all be kept close by.

You can probably think of some more things that can benefit from a little bit of organization. When you need the information quickly, and you can find it without breaking a sweat, you’ll be glad you kept things organized.