While it seems like everything is digital these days, there’s still a need for paper copies of certain records and documents. Unlike digital records, physical copies take up space and demand greater protection. Disasters can occur suddenly and unexpectedly, wiping out years of information. But with the proper steps and preparation, that doesn’t need to happen. To that end, here are several tips on how to keep paper records safe.
Always Have Back-Up
When keeping paper records, it’s always a good idea to have at least two copies of everything. This is best done from the start. One option is to make copies of every document that crosses your desk and store them in a separate facility. Naturally, this can become overwhelming if you deal with large volumes of paperwork, so consider a system through which the paper is immediately scanned and saved to your server as PDFs or other image files. This can also take up space. These can be stored on your own server providing that it is backed up. Many document storage companies can also provide online storage at reasonable rates. In the event of loss of your paper records, you’ll appreciate a scanned backup copy.
Purchase a Fireproof Safe or Filing Cabinet
When you’re storing personal records, it’s wise to keep them in a metal container—preferably one that is lockable and fireproof. As an example, these records can be things such as:
- Social security cards
- Birth certificates
There are plenty of affordable safes on the market (some are the size of briefcases) that can be easily stashed in the attic or a closet. If you have an abundance of records, consider investing in some lockable filing cabinets. Fire is a major destroyer of records, so do what you can to keep the flames away!
Keep Records Offsite in a Safe Place
If you’re dealing with a larger number of records, consider renting storage space. Hundreds of facilities offer storage space for a nominal fee. Review what they offer and check customer reviews to see how safe their facilities are. Make sure they offer climate-controlled, fireproof storage units and see what sort of security they provide. With 24-hour access to your records, you can easily get them if you need to, whether it’s because of an emergency or if you simply want to review and organize them.
Keep Them Out of Danger
When asking yourself how to keep your paper records safe, you must take certain precautions. Whatever containers you store your records in, make sure they are:
Wherever you keep them, make sure it’s a high and dry place, especially if the storage area is near a flood plain or large body of water. Additionally, be sure your paper records aren’t near pipes that can burst in winter or “sweat” during the hot and humid days of summer. Finally, keep them secured from vermin such as mice, rats, squirrels, and other critters that can turn your important documents into their nests!