From Storage to Disposal
Companies acquire and create a great deal of paperwork, even in today's digital world. The need to free up space, protect privileged information, and maintain solid records makes document storage, disposal and shredding high priority issues for businesses of all sizes.
Documents may need to be archived off-site in many situations. For instance, office space may have become cramped due to an abundance of files that must be retained for tax or legal reasons. A business that is mobile may have very little room at its base of operations to store files. A retail enterprise may prefer to use space to hold inventory rather than old paperwork. A home business set up in a tiny corner of the house may simply have no available storage space and may have security issues due to people coming and going and children playing, sometimes too closely for comfort. Some companies specialize in archiving documents. Depending on how much you are willing to pay, the company may pick up, organize and archive your documents in a secure facility. When a document is needed, they may be able to deliver it to you within a few hours or by overnight delivery. Business owners who want to be able to access files at any time and who want to spend less money may prefer to lease a self storage unit to house and protect their documents.
When looking for a self storage facility for your documents, consider a few factors:
- Security. Look for a facility that takes pride in their visitor safety record and their ability to protect stored items. Find out if the facility has 24-hour on-site management, surveillance cameras, security personnel, monitored access or alarms. Look for well lit parking areas and hallways. Find out what type of locking mechanisms are available on units. Look for security fencing around the storage facility, and scan it to be sure it appears in good repair.
- Access. Find out when you will be able to access your storage unit. Many allow entry after business hours by using a security card or code.
- Ability to expand. Originally, you may need a small room, but each year you are likely to have more files. You may not want to lease a second room on the other side of the building, so find out if larger room sizes with the features you need will be available.
- Climate controls. Papers can be destroyed by moisture, so it is important to store important documentation in a facility with temperature and humidity control, especially if you live in areas where damp and heat are not unusual.
- Location. Be sure you are comfortable with the self storage facility's proximity to your business. If you need a file quickly, you will want to be able to travel there in a short amount of time. Make sure you feel safe driving through the neighborhood where the unit is located whether it is day or night.
- Reputation of the storage company. Check with friends at other businesses to see what self storage company they use. You may also look online to find out if any local self storage companies specialize in document storage or offer features that would make them good places to store documents.
Before taking everything to a storage site, businesses should organize their files and pare down paperwork. Unneeded documents containing sensitive information should be shredded with a crosscut shredder or removed by a professional recycling company that specializes in destroying classified office material. In some areas businesses may be able to burn documents. Regardless of the disposal method, documents that are no longer needed but that contain sensitive information like social security numbers, private contract or legal information, or trade secrets should be thoroughly destroyed.
To secure files while they are in storage businesses may want to invest in specially made archival cabinetry that lock and protect documents from fire and moisture. Sensitive items that are stored should be labeled as classified, and the names or titles of those authorized to view the documents should be included on the label when possible.
Although businesses may want or need to save hard copies of documents, they also may want to have digital backups or, at least, paper copies of particularly important items. These should be stored in another location, possibly in a locked cabinet at the office. It may be best to scan information and save it on multiple hard drives as password-protected and encrypted files. Businesses may want to place the backups in separate, secure locations.
These steps will help ensure that your documents are stored and disposed of properly, but be sure to take common sense steps to protect information that is entrusted to you while it is at the office. For instance, do not leave sensitive material where unauthorized individuals can get it. Check fax machines often, and do not leave papers in copiers or printers. Put sensitive material you want to throw away into a locked recycling bin. Don't leave passwords on scraps of paper or important documents on your desk overnight when cleaning crews come through. Although most would not bother documents, employees do not want to be liable if an unauthorized individual improperly uses private information.
To find the right self storage facility for your business needs, use StorageFront's "refine search" feature.
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