Notifications and Data Keepers: Online Services Compared

July 20, 2010 · Posted in Research · Comment 

question-markOnline digital executor services, data safety deposit boxes, death notification services, your last words, password keepers – whatever you want to call them, a wide range of online services have popped up over the last two years to help you manage your digital accounts, files, notifications and memorials. Some are free while others carry a monthly or yearly fee to maintain. Some services are stripped down and may only have one function, others have a dizzying array of features.

As consumers, there is no resource that looks at these new online services and their features objectively to help you choose the right one for your needs.

I plan to change that.

This summer, I will be creating on a questionnaire and will be inviting service providers to complete it. And, I’ll individually test and review the services of each participating company.

Preliminary examinations of service providers show theses basic feature sets:

  • Notifications – often in the form of prearranged emails sent with final instructions for managing digital accounts and/or messages for loved ones.
  • Passwords & Files – store passwords, text, photo, audio and video files online to be accessed by a designated individual(s) or yourself in case of emergency
  • Memorials – create a living or posthumous online memorial or obituary

Emphasis on the feature sets varies, though security is a top concern of most services. Some companies even offer to change content on your social networks or delete accounts according to your instructions.

Your Biggest Questions

The top three questions raised when I mention online notification and data distribution services are:

  • How is my death confirmed and verified?
  • What happens to my data if the company ceases to operate?
  • Are my wishes legally recognized?

Other answers I’ll be seeking from service providers:

  • How many servers are used, where are they located, and what redundancy is in place for back ups?
  • What is the security process, which encryption is used and where?
  • How easy is the service to use?
  • What are the file storage limits?
  • Is there social network integration?
  • Are there tools to help keep my account up-to-date easier?
  • Can I export my account information?

What about you? Which questions would you like to see answered to help you decide which service is right for you?

If you are a service provider, I’d like to hear from you too.

Please leave me a comment below, Tweet me @Digital Legacy, or send me an email: Adele |at| DeathAndDigitalLegacy |dot| com .