4 Reasons Storing Confidential Documents in a Self-Storage Unit is Risky

Document Management
Last updated
March 29, 2024

If your office is overwhelmed with documents and you’re lacking storage space, you’ve likely searched the internet in desperation for file storage options. Self-storage facilities actively market to the business community touting self-storage as a secure and convenient option. But if you’re responsible for protecting the confidentiality of yours or your client’s documents and physically preserving them throughout their lifecycle, a self-storage facility isn’t the safest and most secure option, or even the most cost-effective.

Before you decide to rent a self-storage unit to store business documents, here are some tips to help you make the right decision.

Downsides of using Self-Storage Facilities for Document Storage

1. It’s a waste of valuable resources.

Real estate is valuable, particularly if the focus of your organization is something other than storing documents. Many of our new client relationships begin with a need for space – the hospital that needs to convert the warehouse behind the medical facility into additional clinical space or the college campus that needs to expand their capacity for a growing student population.

However, if you are thinking a self-storge unit is the best alternative to free up space for your business, there are a few other factors you must consider. When calculating the expense of document storage, you also have to consider the time, cost and energy required to create, use and maintain the storage space.  Whether that’s moving boxes from your office or installing racks in the storage space, this takes time and labor. This most likely is not the highest and best use of your staff. And if employees are not experienced in moving, safety may also be compromised.

2. It’s not secure.

Our local paper recently published an article about a series of storage unit thefts.  Sadly, this is not uncommon.  When you choose a self-storage unit to keep your files, security and privacy are not guaranteed. As a tenant, it’s your individual responsibility to purchase a lock for your unit and ensure it is locked when you leave.  The only thing protecting your client information, medical records, personnel files, and financials documents from theft is a roll-up garage door and a padlock.  Storage units may have cameras that are meant to monitor the premises, but not individual units. As evidenced in the article, criminals tend to target storage units for that very reason, randomly breaking into units to see what contents they might find. Most self-storage facilities have a clause in their agreement acknowledging they are not responsible for stolen or missing items. However, if you are storing client files, your business may be responsible for the breach. Additionally, storage units also leave you and your clients vulnerable to not only theft but also natural disasters, particularly flooding.

3. It’s expensive.

The cost of a self-storage unit is determined by the size and location of the facility. In our area a 10 ft. x 10 ft. unit is easily $100 or more per month. Rent for the space is usually the main focus when adding up costs, but it doesn’t account for the cost to furnish the empty room with storage racks, move boxes, or create an index of what you have so you are able to find it when you need it. Self-storage space is not infinite either – when you need more room, it will require finding available space, signing another lease, purchasing additional racks, and moving from one space to the other if you are hoping to consolidate your records. With a self-storge unit, you are also responsible for rent each month, whether you use it to store documents or not.  Therefore, if your inventory shrinks or if you are not fully utilizing the space, you are still responsible for the fixed expense.

4. It’s not an effective document management system.

If you’ve ever personally searched through boxes stored in a closet, attic, office, or piled in a storage room and needed a single file, then you’ll appreciate how important it is to have a system of organization.  Add South Georgia heat and business attire to this experience, and surely you’ve thought there must be a better way! At SRS, our client portal makes it easy for clients to search and access their records – all from the comfort of their office.  Our indexing process allows us to retrieve your records and scan them to you – typically within 30 minutes or less.

No matter where you decide to store your documents, employees must continue to follow your company’s document management policy, even though the files aren’t stored at your office.  When storing records at an offsite storage unit, it’s easy for them to be neglected since they are out of sight and out of mind. Monitoring retention periods and destroying documents once they’ve met their retention is important for a variety of reasons.  First, you must do so in order to remain compliant with privacy laws.  Second, it’s a liability to keep records once they’ve met their retention – if you still have custody of the records then they are discoverable. And third, it’s an unnecessary expense.  Why pay rent to store records that could have been destroyed years ago?

Choose the Best Document Management Solution for Your Business

When making a document storage decision, don’t put yours or your client’s important information at risk by storing files in a self-storage facility. Make the right choice by outsourcing your document storage needs to a professional records service.  At Secure Records Solutions, we provide value for your business by ensuring records are managed by authorized and trained professionals and housed in our secure facility with 24/7 surveillance and strict security protocols.  Secure Records Solutions holds the nation’s most stringent document management certifications including the National Association for Information Destruction (NAID) AAA and the PRISM Privacy+ certifications.

As we’ve told many of our clients, they don’t have a storage problem, rather a management problem.  At SRS, all documents are barcoded and indexed providing a searchable database that also automates retention, making sure your business is compliant with privacy laws and regulations specific to your industry. When retention periods are met, clients receive an email notifying them of inventory eligible for destruction.  We can then destroy those records with your approval using our secure shredding service. When you need access to important files, retrieval is one click away. Documents can be physically delivered or provided via Scan-on-Demand. Additionally, you can centrally manage your inventory and your account online to order storage boxes, retrieve documents, review your inventory, run reports and so much more. And since Secure Records Solutions only charges a few dollars per box each year, our storage services are comparable to that of a self-storage unit yet provide immeasurably greater value to your business through increased security, compliance, access, and cost-effectiveness. Whether your business is big or small, SRS can provide a safe and affordable long-term solution that’s right for you and eliminate the hassle and risks of a self-storage unit. Don’t hesitate to contact us as we’d love to hear more about your unique storage needs.


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