The Importance of Document Archiving

Historically, important records and data have always been safely kept and provide a rich source of research. Whether it is medical, legal, educational, financial, government or any other sector, documents have usually been archived and stored so that there is always a record for reference.

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However, traditional methods of archiving have largely given way to newer methods of archiving that use digital methods of storing important documents, freeing up physical space without compromising on document integrity or availability.

Why is document archiving important?

As much as 50% of the cost of doing business goes into keeping and storing records and maintaining information systems. Document archiving can drive down these costs significantly. Some of the benefits of electronic document archiving include

  • Storage is always expensive and usually limited. Document archiving stores documents in secondary storage that is more financially viable.
  • Document archiving uses much less space, both physical and in the system or cloud archive (whichever one you use). This frees up resources so your systems become more efficient.
  • Documents are accessible and searchable electronically, again increasing efficiency.

As the majority of documents and data are not required all the time, the documents can be safely archived in such a way that they are still readily available when needed, but on the secondary storage. Automated programs also make it easier to store less used records to secondary storage (either third-party storage or on the cloud) where they can still be accessed but not use up valuable space in the primary system.  

Electronic archiving also makes it easier to link files, compress data reducing storage space further. When data is encrypted is also adds a layer of security as only a person who has the key can see and use the data. Some data have to be kept for a certain period of time to meet regulations. These may be financial, legal or medical records for instance and archiving helps in all these situations.

Some best document archiving practices

Document archiving is useful only when the records are usable.

  • It is imperative that the data and records when archived are the same as the originals and error-detection algorithms are used to ensure this.
  • When archiving documents, it is important to check that the hardware and software used is kept up to date and that the archives are always readable and usable.  
  • File formats, operating systems, and other technological improvements may not be able to read documents stored using older systems, so it is important that archived documents be migrated or converted into the newer systems so they don’t become unreadable and unusable.
  • If archived documents are tagged they can be removed once their useful or statutory life is over, again freeing up resources and space.
  • When archived documents are always important, especially historical, legal and medical, it is vital that they are always available in a readable and usable form and not stored in such a way that their usability is compromised.

The right ways of archiving documents that are part of document management systems have many benefits including lowering financial costs, improving system performance and conforming to legal requirements. At the same time to ensure accessibility and readability of archived documents and data, it is critical that software and hardware are upgraded when necessary and the archives moved to the new systems to ensure usability.

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