Looking for archive storage options for your important documents? Archival documents are important pieces of company information and should be stored in a safe, secure, and organized manner. In this article, we will see what qualifies as an archival document, government laws concerning records, and how and where to store your archives. For more information about all forms of records management, contact the experts at Blue-Pencil now to learn more!
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What Are Archive Documents?
Archive documents are a specific type of file produced by an individual, company, or organization. Archives are documents that have accumulated over time and are usually kept organized by date. These are documents that are no longer in use, but may be needed in the future. Archive records can be defined as “records that have been naturally and necessarily generated as a product of regular legal, commercial, administrative, or social activities.” (source)
A given company’s archives may include documents such as legal documents, tax records, titles, deeds, heritage documents, as well as other records. Some organizations or companies may also have photographs, letters, reports given or received, or more.
Archives can also refer to the physical location where archival documents are kept and stored. You have likely come across an archive at your local library, city hall, museum, or other public space. Though archives often refer specifically to historical documents, almost every individual and business has archival documents and should know how to safely store these records, documents, and data.
Archive Storage Process
As mentioned above, archives contain old or “inactive” records and documents that are no longer needed for everyday use. The first step when archiving documents is determining which documents fit that description. Begin by selecting the oldest documents and working your way from there.
After that, you or a records management specialist will begin archiving and indexing your records. Archives are organized in a specific manner that makes retrieval easy and maximizes search capabilities.
Aside from historical archives, most organizations and businesses do not want to keep most archived documents and records indefinitely. Like all things, data has a life cycle. After a specified amount of time, your oldest documents can be purged and destroyed to avoid keeping too many outdated and unnecessary documents.
Before you begin this process, it’s important to decide where and how you will store your archives. The next section will outline the pros and cons of different archive storage options to help you make an informed decision.
Where To Store Archive Documents
Many archival documents include sensitive personal or company information that should be handled in a secure and careful manner. These records usually also contain important historical company information that you or future employees may want or need to reference. Where you store your archives is important. See below for common archive storage options.
Record Security Rating: ★ – ★★
If you are a highly organized person and would like to completely set up your own archives, a public storage facility may work for you. You can choose the size of space to rent from small lockers to spaces bigger than some offices! You have full control over your records and can choose to archive your documents and files in any manner that makes the most sense for you and your company.
However, rental spaces, even spaces advertised as safe and secure, are not designed for document storage. Filing highly sensitive company information in a public storage building may be risky – and with archival storage, you will be filing your records in the same location for years to come. You will also have to purchase the appropriate filing unit and organize and maintain your files without any professional help. If you lose or misplace a document or find yourself overwhelmed with too many disorganized records, you will have to sort out the problem yourself.
File Security Rating: ★★★
Cloud storage is a good way to keep records backed up and safe in case of an emergency. Many see cloud storage as one of the perfect document storage solutions for small businesses due to its versatility and ease of access. If you have just begun collecting company archives, it can help keep your records organized and secure from the start. Cloud storage also allows users to share needed documents seamlessly and find their important documents if needed.
However, many companies use cloud storage in addition to other archive storage methods – not as a primary storage option. Cloud storage is a backup option, not a method that keeps original files on record. You can only access your documents when you have an internet connection – so if there is a network issue, your files are inaccessible. There is also some debate over how secure cloud storage truly is, especially with the increase of cybercrime over the last few years. According to a New York Times article, cloud storage is a lot more secure than most people think. However, as with any information put online, there will always be the potential for security risks.
Records Management Services
File Security Rating: ★★★★★
Convenience: ★★★★ (depending on your location)
Storing your archival files with a secure document storage and records management company is a great way to know that your important records are safe and protected. A secure facility is an excellent long-term solution, perfect for archives. Most records management companies will provide options for both small and large volumes of data, ideal for businesses of all sizes or businesses that anticipate growth. Many records management companies design programs specifically for archives and long-term document storage, meaning your information will be stored in the best manner possible. Blue-Pencil also allows emergency retrieval and delivery, so you can access your records when needed in case of an emergency.
Depending on your location, retrieving your documents from a secure facility may be a bit of a drive. Because secure documents storage programs are highly specialized and one of the most secure options, these services may cost more upfront. However, knowing your confidential documents are secure and monitored 24/7 will help give you peace of mind and can even cost less in the long term, as you will not have to continuously look and pay for new security solutions.
Records Keeping And The Law
Did you know that there are laws regarding tax records and business documents in Canada? Due to CRA (Canada Revenue Agency) guidelines, companies must keep tax and business records on file for 6-7 years to comply with legal guidelines. It is important to keep all information, even information you do not legally have to submit with your taxes (such as a log of income and expenses) in case you are asked for this information in the future. (source)
Working with a professional records management company can help you avoid legal issues in the future, as your important records will be archived, organized, and easy to retrieve if and when necessary. You won’t have to worry about accidentally throwing away or losing pertinent tax information, and outdated records and documents will be destroyed at the appropriate time to avoid unnecessary confusion.
At Blue-Pencil, we fully assess your current policies and procedures to ensure that they meet standards for security, legal compliance, and cost efficiency. Once the assessment is complete it will be followed by a report that contains recommended actions and our custom program proposal. You can rest assured knowing your archived business records will be both stored and destroyed when the time comes in a safe and secure manner.
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Archive Your Records With Blue-Pencil!
With Blue-Pencil, you can archive your important company files worry-free at our secure facility. Blue-Pencil helps empower Canadian organizations to reach new heights with friendly and efficient document management services. Customer service is not only a slogan but something we practice by investing in our strategic partners.
Located in Oakville, we have grown our document security business over the past 10 years, serving more than 6,000 organizations including small and medium-sized companies as well as Fortune 500 businesses.
We have recently launched two new divisions; Documents Storage and Records Management division and Document Imaging and Scanning Solutions division. This allows us to offer full circle, comprehensive solutions for information security management. We service the GTA and surrounding cities – click here for a full list of our service areas. If you’d like to learn more about us and what we can do for you contact us today!