Why Hard Copy Document Storage? Back

Why Hard Copy Document Storage?

In this blog post, we discuss the virtues of hard copy storage. Hardcopy storage invariable equates to paper storages. Hardcopy storage should be differentiated from digital or magnetic means of storage. Digital storage typically includes MS Word files and PDFs, whereas magnetic storage includes tapes, CDs, DVDs, videos and floppy disc storage.

Hardcopy storage is often branded as obsolete and that digital or magnetic forms of storage should always be favoured instead.

In this post, we aim to argue the point to the contrary.

Here is why:

#1. Hardcopy storage is ideal for long-term storage

If you plan on storing documents for a period greater than thirty-five years you should consider hard copy storage over other means of storage.

Digital and magnetic forms of storage are at risk of becoming obsolete and/or redundant. Paper documents have a shelf life of around 200 years when correctly stored. Digital and magnetic means of storage rely on external devices in order to retrieve their content. We’ve already seen the death of the floppy disc, microfilm, and cassette tape. In another forty years who knows what may happen! If you plan to store documents for a period greater than thirty-five years know you run the risk of never retrieving the data due to lack of available rendering equipment.

You may be able to convert one electronic or magnet form of data into another (e.g. cassette to digital) but note you risk losing some of the quality of that data in the process.

#2. Hard copies should be favoured for official documents or where authenticity is at a premium

Hard copy wins where authenticity is important. If the document concerned is a will or relates to land ownership you may legally be required to maintain documents in a hard copy format.

Despite attempts to the contrary, electronic documents are at a greater vulnerability to fraud than their hard copy equivalents. One only has to look at the trouble ‘Bitcoin’ has run into in proving this point.

Any document requiring physical signature clearly must be retained in hard copy format, even if you choose to create a digital duplicate. Contracts of sale or employment are typical examples of signed documents requiring hard copy formats.

When you scan a paper document containing a signature the evidential value of that document decreases. Tip: keep paper copies in case you must later rely on them in court. Documents are signed for a very good reason and making digital equivalents diminishes their value significantly.

#3. Careless scanning of hard copies could corrupt completeness of digital copies

When you create a digital version of a paper document be sure to take care when scanning. Carelessness or ‘human error’ is a major disadvantage when it comes to digitalising hard copy versions. Otherwise, sections of a paper document could get chopped off when converting to digital. Data loss is a risk when converting from any type of medium into another. Just be sure to take great care when scanning paper documents.

One quick tip is to first photocopy the paper hard copy and then scan the photocopied version. This generally increases the accuracy of digitalising paper copies.

Click here to learn about our document scanning service.

It goes without saying that you must compare carefully digital copies against their paper originals. This may be time-consuming but this task is well worth the effort in the long run.

#4. Hard copies are less at risk of theft

If people can steal diamonds held in secure safety deposit boxes then people can steal paper!

Whilst this may be true, electronic documents are unarguably more vulnerable to theft than their paper equivalents.

If you store electronic documents on any form of network connected to the Internet at least know somebody sat in Australia or Korean could gain access to their contents. This is not the case with hard copy equivalents!

Although all documents are at risk of theft electronic documents are clearly at a higher risk than paper equivalents.

#5. Hard copies are easier to destroy

If you take a match to a hard copy document you’re almost guaranteed the document won’t come back to haunt you!

Not so with an electronic document.

Hard drives have been dropped from airplanes travelling at 20,000ft high in the sky and data has been successfully retrieved from smashed up pieces. Pressing ‘delete’ does not equate to destruction. This is because the data’s ghost remains on the hard drive. A document retrieval expert uses specialist equipment in order to revive otherwise ‘deleted’ documents.

Closing advice from Secure Storage

We recommend you store documents in multiple formats if possible, especially where the document relates to ownership or future ownership. For instance, our will storage service requires our staff to keep both hard and digital copies of our customers’ will.

‘Backup’ should be part of the vocabulary of any competent document storage professional (and layman for that matter). Have a system for making backups preferably taking advantage of several media, both hard and soft.