Determining what to do with your important files can be challenging, especially if you have numerous documents and all of them appear to be necessary for your daily activities. Long term document storage helps solve this problem, by ensuring that documents remain accessible, but out of the way when not needed.
Digitizing documents, or partnering with a professional offsite storage provider, gives you an affordable and convenient way to manage all of your files. Both options free up space around the office, and ensure your documents are available at the click of a button or with a quick call.
How to Store Paper Documents Long Term Digitally
Advances in computer technology and an increase in the affordability of portable storage media make it possible for business owners to scan and maintain thousands of documents on the cloud or on an internal server.
Documents that have been digitized can be organized using special records management software, which can allow for easy file access, referencing and comparison in document-driven industries. Many of these softwares come with incredible indexing capabilities and keyword searches built in, which makes finding any document you need a breeze.
Digitizing documents can also contribute to a paperless work environment, which can result in better organization and records management practices. Some research suggests that converting documents to electronic documents may even help businesses save money and protect profits, as less time will be wasted by employees attempting to maintain paper filing systems and find lost documents.
Security is another perk of digital document management. With multi-layer encryption, accessibility protocols, and advanced firewalls, your data won’t fall into the wrong hands. Additionally, digital storage means that you can store a document over the long term, without any worry of decay or data loss.
Offsite Document Storage
If you’re a proprietor who regularly handles numerous client files, and need to keep them for several years, you may consider placing your older documents in a secure off-site storage facility. This is particularly helpful for law firms, medical practices, or anyone that works in an industry that has stringent document retention protocols.
These facilities offer you a way to keep your inactive paper files while freeing up space in your office for your current clients’ documents.
When relocating your files to a storage facility, be sure to stay organized. Put newer files that are more likely to be referenced at the front of your boxes for easier access.
If you’re required to follow regulations, make sure that your provider knows that. All of Record Nations partners know how to maintain compliance, but they need to know which laws you’re required to follow.
Good Paper Record Packing Practices
Storing paper documents requires a few practical preparation activities. Make sure that any potential storage environments are acid-free, as any sort of acidic residue will degrade paper quickly.
This includes choosing protective storage components, like plastic sleeves and containers, which have been made without polyvinylchloride.
Ideally, all paper documents destined for storage should be printed or photocopied on acid-free paper, the humidity levels of any storage space should be regulated, and light and heat sources should be minimized.
If you can, paint the walls of your storage space with a light color to prevent any damage that may result from sun exposure and proximity to light fixtures.
Use shelving units when you can, and avoid placing boxes of records directly on the ground. Pack all records tightly and clearly label them for easy identification.
Finally, have a contingency plan. Regardless of all necessary precautions being taken to protect your paper documents’ integrity, unforeseen circumstances, like accidents or disasters, can threaten or destroy your files.
Make copies of original records when possible, and consider digitizing them, if you haven’t already. The best long term document storage plans involve backups, as it’s much better to be safe than sorry.