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Document imaging vs offsite storage – the security question

In a previous post we looked at the relative costs of document imaging vs offsite storage and how a lot has changed over the years. This time we’ll look at document security and how each storage method compares.

For many years document security played a comparatively bit part in the grand scheme of document storage but that has all changed. We now know just how important document and data security is, so this article will simply look at the relative merits of document imaging and offsite storage from a security perspective.

It seems that nearly all offsite storage facilities market themselves as ‘secure’, but what do they actually offer?

For the most part the facilities where the documents are stored are not nuclear bunkers with steel doors that are feet thick – they are warehouses full of pallet racking. There is probably cctv to watch for intruders and a fire alarm system. There may also be a sprinkler system in place to spray water over the stored boxes in the event of a fire (which can, and has, happened in a document storage facility).
Beyond that, and locking the doors, there’s little on offer that almost any business probably doesn’t have in place already.

Digitised documents on the other hand can be protected from unauthorised access by a variety of methods including network access privileges, password protection and encryption.

An obvious security issue is that, wherever hard copy documents are stored, there is still just a single version of the document – if it gets destroyed or lost there is generally no path back. Even the mis-filing of a document can effectively render it ‘lost’ even though it still exists.

Nearly all businesses have some form of backup for their computer system – but offsite document storage does nothing for the integrity of paper documents.
On the other hand, once documents have been scanned they are ‘frozen in time’ – they will not degrade like paper does and can be easily backed up and safely stored in other, multiple, properly secure locations (such as a fire safe) for retrieval in the event of a ‘disaster’.

Ignore the adverts – document imaging provides an altogether much stronger security package than a locked door and background checking of staff!

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