When it comes to using a document storage service vs your business in-house file cabinets, should your business stick with traditional in-house file cabinets, or is it time to explore offsite options? We directly tackle the costs, efficiency, and security implications of both, guiding you through a head-to-head comparison to determine the best fit for your organizational needs.

Key Takeaways

  • While in-house file cabinets offer a systematic arrangement and easy retrieval of documents, they also incur substantial costs due to space requirements, and are vulnerable to physical damage and theft. On the other hand, offsite document storage services offer a more cost-efficient solution, boasting robust security measures that greatly outweigh the slight inconvenience of slower document access.
  • Many businesses are transitioning to digital documents to reduce copying expenses, enhance productivity, and improve document security; this process includes scanning and shredding of documents and requires adequate employee training for smooth adaptation to digital document management systems.
  • Effective document management requires balancing security with accessibility, employing secure storage practices and efficient retrieval methods using digital management systems while considering additional services like regulatory compliance assistance and project management to maintain information governance and reduce risks.

Analyzing Document Storage Options: In-House File Cabinets vs Offsite Solutions

Deciding between in-house file cabinets and offsite document storage solutions can feel like standing at a crossroad. With the comfort and easy access that in-house file cabinets offer contrasting with the cost-efficiency and heightened security of offsite solutions, the decision can be tricky. A comparison of the two options could provide a clearer perspective.

An average 5-drawer cabinet occupies 7 sq. ft. and costs around $350. Add in the median office space price of $17.50 per sq. ft., and the costs start to pile up. Offsite solutions, could offer a more cost-effective alternative, saving not just physical space but also financial overheads. There’s more to consider. We will now discuss the advantages and disadvantages of each option.

Advantages of In-House File Cabinets

In-house keeping filing cabinets may seem old-fashioned in the digital age, but they do come with their set of advantages. For starters, they offer a systematic arrangement for easy retrieval. Plus, they protect against cyber threats by maintaining physical documents offline, reducing the possibility of unauthorized online access or hacking.

In-house file cabinets offer several benefits for businesses, including:

  • Aid in achieving compliance requirements
  • Provide easy access for document retrieval
  • Cost-effective for managing physical documents
  • Augment privacy protection

Disadvantages of In-House File Cabinets

Despite the advantages, in-house file cabinets come with their share of drawbacks. The high costs and substantial space requirements may make them less cost-efficient than offsite document storage solutions. The expenses of maintaining in-house file cabinets encompass:

  • The initial purchase
  • Continuous maintenance
  • Utilization of office space
  • Document storage and organization
  • Labor involved in filing and retrieving documents.

Moreover, in-house file cabinets can be vulnerable to a range of damage such as:

  • water damage
  • mold growth
  • deterioration over time
  • fire damage
  • theft

This necessitates businesses to evaluate the advantages and disadvantages of using a filing cabinet for document storage.

Advantages of Offsite Document Storage

Offsite document storage solutions are increasingly becoming the preferred choice for businesses, and for good reasons. They offer cost-effectiveness by typically having lower costs compared to on site storage and in-house file storage solutions, including savings on physical storage space and document management expenses. Storing documents offsite can be a smart decision for businesses looking to optimize their resources.

Security is another key advantage of offsite storage solutions. They implement the latest security measures, including surveillance cameras, access control systems, and fire suppression systems, and adhere to strict handling and storage protocols to prevent unauthorized access or damage. They also provide backup systems and extensive disaster recovery plans to protect documents during emergencies.

Disadvantages of Offsite Document Storage

While offsite document storage solutions offer numerous advantages, they do have their challenges. One of the primary drawbacks is the extra time needed for document retrieval. On average, it takes a few hours to retrieve a paper document from offsite storage, which can be a significant consideration for businesses in need of very prompt access to their files. However, it’s worth noting that once documents are retrieved, they are scanned and emailed to the requester, providing a digital copy for immediate access and future reference.

Transitioning from Physical to Digital Documents

Given the drawbacks of both in-house file cabinets and offsite storage solutions, many businesses are considering a couple of other options. The first is transitioning from physical to digital documents. This process necessitates:

  1. A comprehensive cleanup of the existing paper collection
  2. Preparation of documents for migration to an electronic document management system
  3. The implementation of such a system to boost efficiency and productivity.

Scanning and shredding are key elements in this transition, contributing to:

  • Reduced copying expenses
  • Enhanced operational productivity
  • Improved security via encryption and password protection
  • Eradication of the need for physical storage of paper documents

The second popular option is the ‘scan on demand’ service provided by some offsite storage solutions. In this model, companies store their physical documents offsite, and only when a specific document is needed, it is scanned and emailed to the requester. This option significantly reduces the initial overhead of scanning and document cleanup, while ensuring secure storage and access to documents. Furthermore, when the documents reach their end of life, they are securely destroyed, maintaining the integrity and confidentiality of the business information.

Before we delve into the specifics of scanning, shredding and ‘scan on demand’ services, it’s necessary to highlight the role of employee training in ensuring a seamless transition.

Scanning and Shredding Services

Scanning and shredding services are essential for businesses transitioning to digital document storage. Services such as Blue-Pencil specialize in scanning and shredding, prioritizing secure and efficient digitization of documents while also ensuring proper disposal of the physical copies.

These services typically shred a variety of documents, including:

  • client files
  • contact lists
  • financial reports
  • employee records
  • strategy development plans

They use industrial-grade shredders to produce confetti-like pieces to prevent document reconstruction. To achieve high-quality document scanning, they use advanced scanners with features such as high speed and remarkable scan quality.

Employee Training and Adaptation

Employee training plays a crucial role in ensuring a smooth transition to digital document management. Employees often encounter challenges such as poor user experience, difficulty in document retrieval, and potential security vulnerabilities during the transition. These challenges can be effectively managed through training by allocating resources appropriately, selecting the most suitable training approach, involving employees actively, evaluating training efficacy, and ensuring the training content remains pertinent.

Balancing Security and Accessibility in Document Management

Whether businesses opt for in-house file cabinets or offsite storage solutions, balancing security and accessibility is a must. Security measures are implemented to ensure the safety of confidential documents during storage. These include strict chain-of-custody procedures, controlled access to storage facilities, and the attachment of unique identifiers to documents for tracking purposes.

Concurrently, technologies like digital document management systems, secure document exchange software, and electronic document management systems are used for secure and quick document retrieval. We will now discuss the specifics of secure storage practices and access and retrieval methods.

Secure Storage Practices

Secure storage practices play a vital role in document management. They involve implementing chain-of-custody procedures to ensure the security and integrity of documents throughout their lifecycle. These procedures establish a clear trail of custody, recording all interactions with the documents, which is essential for maintaining confidentiality, authenticity, and admissibility, particularly in legal and investigative scenarios.

Unique identifiers further improve secure storage practices by facilitating the differentiation and monitoring of individual documents within a system. These identifiers aid efficient sorting, filtering, and retrieval of specific files and can be utilized to enforce access controls and permissions, thus protecting sensitive information.

PRISM Privacy+ certification, a third-party verification, guarantees the safety and storage of sensitive documents and enables businesses to meet their regulatory obligations for due diligence.

Blue-Pencil, being PRISM Privacy + Certified and also utilizing their proprietary Blue-Pencil Plus+ system, ensures easy retrieval of your documents.

Access and Retrieval Methods

Access and retrieval methods hold equal importance as secure storage practices. Quick document delivery involves the swift and effective distribution of documents to their intended recipients, enabled by document management systems for the storage, organization, and retrieval of documents.

The scan-on-demand system in offsite document storage enables users to view their stored records remotely without physically relocating them from the storage facility. Upon a user’s request for a specific document, the storage provider scans and digitizes the document, making it instantly accessible online. This allows users to access their documents without the need for on site document retrieval.

Comprehensive records lifecycle management, which includes stages such as creation, maintenance, use, dissemination, disposal, and archival, is also crucial for effective document management.


Choosing the right document storage option is crucial for every business. As we’ve seen, in-house file cabinets and offsite document storage solutions each come with their unique set of advantages and challenges. Balancing security and accessibility is paramount, and additional services such as regulatory compliance assistance and project management can provide invaluable support. Ultimately, the choice depends on the unique needs and circumstances of each business.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do people still use filing cabinets?

Yes, people still use filing cabinets because modern lateral files offer plenty of style, finish, and storage options, including deep, full extension drawers.

What are the three types of filing cabinet?

The three types of filing cabinets are vertical, lateral, and mobile. Each type has its own unique features to suit different storage needs.

Why do companies especially large ones still use filing cabinets?

Companies, especially large ones, still use filing cabinets because they offer an effective way to store large amounts of files, save space, and provide systematic organization for easy access to documents, ultimately saving time and reducing frustration for employees.

Where is the best place to store documents?

The best place to store business documents is with a trusted offsite document storage company. These companies offer high levels of security, protection, and accessibility for your important business papers.