How to save money on document storage

Business firms spend huge sums of money on a regular basis to manage their document storage requirements in an efficient manner. Records and documents are the lifeline of any business and have a certain financial, legal or functional value associated with them. Businesses have to ensure that the entire document management process spanning creation of documents, storage, retrieval, archival and disposal is secure so that relevant details are available only to the right people at the right time and place.  While stringent permissions govern document creation, it is their storage, retrieval and disposal methods that are effort-intensive and cost money. The exact costs associated with document storage vary based on the document medium and the document management plan that is being adopted.

On-Site Storage

On-site storage options may be ideal for small businesses, where the volume of records or documents is small and fairly manageable.  Paper documents are usually stored under lock and key in filing cabinets, probably in a separate storage area demarcated for the purpose.  Electronic documents are stored in dedicated servers and are regularly backed up on physical storage devices such as tapes and CDs, which too are stored within the company premises. While on-site storage may help in instant data recovery, it may prove costly in the long run, given the costs associated with the storage space, support staff and related infrastructure.  The local storage should also be able to bear the brunt of physical damage that may arise during fire or other natural calamities to really protect valuable documents over time.

Off-Site Storage

Business establishments can instead opt for off-site storage services offered by document management companies. Document storage and record management services from professional service providers offer several options to securely store business records in a remote location without any fears. The services often include:

Document collection and transport to remote facility
 Appropriate secure document filing, retrieval and disposal processes
Fully audited flow of control along the transport and storage route

While electronic documents can be instantly retrieved and viewed online on request, paper documents are usually delivered at the office within the same day. A few service providers also offer to scan the paper records and quickly send across the electronic version for reference. Boxed documents can be stored off-site for a regular monthly fee.

Advantages of Electronic Documents

Successful business ventures tend to grow with time, generating tons of documents and records in the due process. An ideal way to save data storage costs would be to embrace the electronic or digital formats, which cuts down loads of paperwork and is also environment-friendly. Physical storage media such as tapes and CDs can store far more content than what conventional paper documents can possibly think of. They also occupy lesser space and can be easily transported without being easily damaged.

Another important advantage is that these documents can be retrieved or accessed online whenever needed, while the entire backup or archived versions are needed only during disaster recovery or for retrieving historical documents to meet statutory or legal processes. Electronic documents when efficiently managed using standard naming conventions and structured storage approaches are easily recoverable when needed. A lot of time and effort is usually spent to locate paper documents that have been stowed away in some remote corner of the storage space.  Time and effort when spent on futile searches do eventually lead to loss of productivity, directly attributed to the expenses.

Electronic documents are easy to manage and improve productivity. At the same time, they also cut down storage space requirements. They are, however, costlier to handle, but are worth the effort. Most document storage companies offer pay-as-you-go services, with charges that commensurate with the storage space and service requirements. As compared to on-site storage costs that are fixed, these charges vary with volume of data stored; making off-site storage a viable, cost-effective option for large and small business firms alike.

Written by:

Nathan Morgan has been a IT professional for 14 years. His work is currently focused on Linux servers. He has encryption experience including the deployment of True Crypt and similar packages, and detailed knowledge of document scanning solutions to transform off-line archives into accessible digital data.