Physical document storage is exactly what it says on the tin, it is the process of safely storing and securing both electrical and physical documents in an organised format. Documents can be stored in a number of different ways, with each method being efficient ways to protect sensitive data and personal information.
Storing documents correctly is very important as it enables easy retrieval of documents, can be cost-efficient and of course, helps you to better manage documents and paperwork throughout your business.
Secure document archiving ensures compliance with applicable laws and regulations, reducing the risk of penalties or legal issues. For example, GDPR requires businesses to store personal data securely and demonstrate accountability in handling and protecting sensitive information.
- Types of Document Storage
- The Benefits of Physical Document Storage
- Risks of not sorting your physical documents correctly
- How to avoid the dangers of poor physical document storage
- The Benefits of Document Scanning
- The Risks of Document Scanning
- How to prevent poor document scanning management
- How to choose the best Document Storage System
Types of Document Storage
The document storage process can be carried out both physically and electronically through the form of document scanning. Both types of document storage having their own benefits. Different business needs and requirements could determine which type of document storage you should acquire.
Physical document storage
Physical document storage refers to storing documents in their original paper or physical format. It involves organising, categorising, and storing paper documents in physical storage systems, such as filing cabinets, shelves, storage boxes, or off-site storage facilities, such as Rads Document Storage.
Physical document storage is typically used for documents that have not been digitised or for those that need to be retained in their original form for legal, regulatory, or historical purposes.
Electronic document storage
Electronic document storage, or document scanning is when a document is stored in a digital format instead of remaining in its physical form. With this method of document storage, the documents are converted from being physical, paper documents into digital files and sorting them into a systematic and organised manner.
Hybrid document storage systems
Hybrid document storage systems combine on-premises storage with cloud-based storage to create a flexible and scalable solution that meets various business needs.
This approach allows organisations to leverage the benefits of both physical storage and cloud storage, effectively combining the two methods of document storage.
What are the benefits of Physical Document Storage?
There are many benefits of secure document storage, for both physical and electronic methods. From improving the organisation of your documents, to increasing the security, especially if you handle sensitive information and personal data.
Here are some of the benefits of storing your documents off-site.
Document storage can improve the organisation of your documents as you can filter and categorise through your files. If you have space, investing in suitable filing cabinets can be a quick fix to removing the eye-sore that can be piles of documents taking up desk space.
This is also helpful for document retention purposes.
For even more space saving options, off-site document storage is a fantastic way to remove mountains of paperwork that are simply unmanageable. Many companies will pick up and collect records and files of all kinds and store them securely in a CCTV operated facility designed to hold copious amounts of documents.
Through the use of secure document storage, you can reduce time searching for paperwork through organising them in a system which enables you to know exactly what you’re looking for, and where they’re located. This prevents you from having to search through piles of paperwork and leave more time for your team to be productive.
Better collaboration is something that is guaranteed to benefit a business and is expected through efficient archive document storage. Storing your documents properly enables you to improve communications as to where your documents are located, which also can improve your decision making and problem-solving skills.
Furthermore, document storage will increase the visibility of your documents so all of your team can view them, making collaboration easier.
Ensuring the safety of your documents is crucial, and that is why storing your documents correctly decrease the likelihood of losing your documents through theft or being accessed by unauthorised personnel. The last thing you want is to compromise personal or sensitive information, so by efficiently storing your documents, it will increase security measures.
If you’re interested in storing your documents within an off-site facility due the large volumes of files you hold, opting for a company that provides secure storage rooms can ensure you sleep at night knowing personal data is protected by various security measures such as CCTV, alarm systems, fireproof vaults and strong rooms, all behind a double-gated site … sounds a lot like our site!
Storing your files in an off-site facility can be a cost-effective solution, this is because it can reduce costs, as well as reducing the risk of losing your documents.
Archive document storage can improve the overall decision-making process within your business as it reduces the risk of errors and improves the organisation of your documents. Storing your documents in an organised manner reduces errors through allowing you to make more accurate decisions based on your access to information.
What are the risks of not sorting your physical documents correctly
Poor document storage can really affect a business, as the consequences could be seriously significant. There are numerous risks of not storing your documents properly, both physically and electronically which can damage your businesses reputation and financial stability.
The risks of storing your physical paperwork incorrectly can be costly, and extremely difficult to fix. With physical documents, anything could happen which could risk the condition, position and organisation of your documents, so ensuring that they’re managed properly is crucial.
Fire or water damage
Your physical documents can be at risk of being damaged by fire or water if not stored correctly or safely. Fire can burn or melt your physical files, and the smoke caused by the fire can also damage other records nearby as the harmful chemicals emitted from the smoke can discolour the paper.
If your documents are damaged by water, it can cause the ink to run and ruin the document making them illegible for use.
At Rads, our off-site storage facilities feature fireproof vaults and temperature/humidity monitors so that your records are kept at the correct temperature at all times to prevent any fire or water damage.
Theft or loss
This risk can be completely avoided through document scanning, or secure off-site document storage. If kept on-site physical documents are at risk of being stolen if your office or premises doesn’t have proficient security.
With an eye-watering 247,000 instances in 2022 alone, where theft was committed against business in the UK, it’s absolutely crucial, in a day and age where data is a valuable commodity, that your records and files are safely out of sight.
Difficulty in organising and retrieving
Through incorrect storage of your physical documents, you run the risk of your documents becoming unorganised, making them much harder to find and retrieve. Storing documents and paperwork correctly makes your files much easier to find, so without this process in place it will be difficult to organise and retrieve your physical documents.
Our cardboard storage boxes are perfect to help organise and store your archive files. They are made from high-quality materials, that are sturdy and hard wearing, as well as a double lining and glue, staples and stitches for extra durability.
Organising your physical documents correctly ensures that there’s plenty of office space for you to operate within, which can have a number of different health benefits! If your documents are not stored correctly, space limitations can become a possibility due to a lack of organisation and wasted space through physical documents lying around the workplace.
Alternatively, document shredding services can also be a great solution to prevent space limitations within your office and destroy your unwanted records.
How to avoid the dangers of poor physical document storage
As unpredictable and costly incorrect document storage can be, in some cases, it can be easily avoided through having certain procedures in place. From storing your physical documents in a secure location to regularly backing up your electronic documents, there are many ways in which you can avoid the dangers of poor record storage.
Establish a document retention policy
By establishing a document retention policy, it can avoid the dangers of poor paperwork storage as it helps to protect the privacy and data that is in the documents through identifying critical documents that need to be preserved for potential litigation, audits, or investigations. An effective document retention policy ensures that relevant records are retained for the required period, reducing the risk of loss of crucial evidence in legal proceedings for example.
A document retention policy can also help your business to be legal and regulatory compliant so that your documents can be retained for the appropriate period. Furthermore, it can promote consistency and transparency within your archive document storage, which helps employees within your business to understand their responsibilities and reduces the risk of accidental data loss.
Use consistent file naming conventions
Through using consistent file naming conventions, it will benefit your business in numerous ways, especially as this can help your business to avoid any storage risks.
If files or storage boxes are consistently named or structured via numbers or in alphabetical order, it makes them much easier to retrieve and locate due to the organisation of their storage, reducing the time spent looking for your documents and opening up more space to focus on important jobs for example.
Store documents in a secure location
Physical documents can benefit from being stored in a protected location, especially secure off-site facilities, such as ours! Your business could also have your own secure location to prevent theft of your files, but ensure it is equipped with high-standard theft deterrents, such as CCTV and alarm systems.
You can store electronic documents in encrypted location to prevent any data breaches, such as OneDrive. There are also other great cloud document storage options for you to choose from that vary in different benefits and costs.
Regularly purge outdated or irrelevant documents
Keeping hold of outdated or irrelevant documents can be unnecessary and build up clutter around the workplace, making it harder to find documents and increasing the time spent searching for required files. Ultimately, regularly purging outdated or irrelevant documents increases storage space, saves time looking for documents and improves data security.
A great way to declutter your workplace of outdated files is our document shredding service. At Rads, we destroy a wide range of records, from clothing and business records to CD’s and DVD’s including all their associate packaging.
What are the benefits of Document Scanning?
As we continue to enter into a paperless society, some businesses may benefit more from scanning their documents, rather than storing them all, whether that be internally or externally.
Document scanning is an ideal solution to removing mountains of paperwork off desks and in cabinets and creating a process where documents can be found with ease at the touch of a button, which brings us on to our first point.
A clear desk equals a clear headspace, and we truly believe this. The benefits of a tidy desk possibly aren’t that obvious until you have one! If paperwork, documents and other files are out of site and organised correctly on your computer, you now have more time to get stuff done, rather than scavenging through filing cabinets and folders.
We already know that up to 50% of employees time is taken up looking for information, and so document scanning is an ideal solution to allow your staff to get back to what’s important.
Save time and money
Although the initial digitising of documents comes at a cost, it’s a worthwhile investment as overnight you’ll save money on printing supplies, inks, paper and the time it takes for someone to create a document, print it and file it.
Once all documents are archived safely for employees to access online via secure numbered PDF files, retrieving documents takes seconds and can be located with ease, either as an individual document or in groups of documents.
Depending on the sector you work in, you may find that having documents scanned and archived provides a greater level of security. If your business often holds on to paperwork and files which are at risk of theft or damage, having them scanned and digitised can remove this risk completely.
Having documents accessible via your computer, which can be created multiple times through a secure backup process, also ensures data of any kind is preserved for years to come.
What are the risks of Document Scanning?
There are, however, potential risks of storing documents electronically, from data loss to further storage limitations. Some of the risks that can come with poor document storage in electronic form are very different to those in physical form, however, can be just as costly to your business.
Data breaches and cyber attacks
Data breaches and cyber-attacks can become a risk if paperwork has not been stored correctly online and, in some cases, allow unauthorised individuals to access sensitive information, which could potentially be used for malicious purposes, such as identity theft, fraud, or blackmail.
Cyber-attacks and data breaches can occur from the following methods:
- Inside threats
This risk of poor document scanning can have significant impacts on businesses, from financial losses, damaged reputation and possible legal penalties.
Many examples of this can be found over at IT Governance. Data breaches and cyber attacks unfortunately happen on a regular basis from healthcare to retail.
One example includes JD Sports who have confirmed the leak of personal information regarding 10 million customers.
Data corruption or loss
Data corruption, or loss of data, can happen if your electronic documents are not stored properly. Mechanical issues can cause your data to be lost, as well as software errors or even human errors, where files can accidentally be deleted or modified where important data can be lost. By ensuring that your electronic documents are stored properly, and your staff are trained appropriately, you can mitigate this risk relatively easily.
Scanning them yourself
We’re not bias on this one, but scanning documents in-house could compromise personal data if not completed securely or professionally. As a business, we follow the BIP 0008 Code of Practice which ensures the integrity of the data, and that data is stored currently via electronic use.
So, if you’re consider DIY scanning, we suggest reaching out to document scanning professionals.
How to prevent poor document scanning management?
This is an extension of our last point. There are more risks that come with trying to digitise paperwork yourself, than investing in the time of an external service that is designed to be compliant with regulations.
By scanning paperwork and personal data in-house you run the risk of:
- Data getting into the wrong hands
- Exposing the business to potential legal implications
- Draining internal resources and time
- Digitising documents into incorrect file types and unstructured filing conventions
How to choose the best Document Storage System
There are many different elements you should consider before choosing the right document storage system, as well as several factors that can influence your overall decision.
The four main things you should consider when choosing how to store your documents are:
- Needs and budget of your business
- The level of security needed
- The level of accessibility needed
- The ease of use and scalability
Consider your organisation’s needs and budget
When choosing the right document storage system, whether that be storing physical documents off-site or opting for a document scanning service, your organisation’s needs, and budget must be something you consider.
If your organisation handles sensitive data, such as the legal sector, your needs will be different to those businesses that may handle less sensitive information, such as the beauty sector. However, all data is sensitive, and needs to be handled correctly.
The budget will fall down to how much you’re willing to spend on storing your documents, as a cheaper alternative may be more affordable, but could also put your business at a greater risk of facing the dangers of incorrect file storage.
Assess the level of security required
If your business handles personal information, you must ensure that the document storage system you choose is as secure as it can be to prevent any potential data breaches, physically or electronically. If you’re handling local survey results, the significance of losing this data will be a lot less than losing medical history of a patient for example.
Determine the level of accessibility required
Determining the level of accessibility required is essential when choosing a document storage system because it directly impacts productivity and compliance of your business. If your paperwork needs to be accessed with speed and fluency, then an online document storage system may be the obvious choice.
Some industries, such as the medical and healthcare sector have regulations in place regarding how data is accessed and stored, placing this as an essential element to consider when choosing the best system to store your documents.
Evaluate ease of use and scalability
Training your employees to understand the document storage process can be very time consuming and difficult to understand at first, however can be very beneficial in the long-term by increasing productivity and reducing errors.
Businesses can also grow at different volumes, therefore adapting to growth is something you should consider when evaluating the scalability of your document storage options. The volume of your documents could continue to rise in the future and your document storage system must be able to handle the incline.
Get an expert’s opinion
Document storage is an incredibly important practice that can assist a number of different business sectors. Storing your records properly both physically and electronically can contribute towards the success of a business, whereas improper document storage can do quite the opposite.
If you’re looking to store your documents securely, make sure that you consider all the variables towards what your business needs, and whether or not your sector needs a certain type of document storage.
Get an expert’s opinion today by calling our team, who will be happy to answer any questions you have regarding document storage, document scanning and even document shredding, if you want an option to destroy paperwork securely.