An archive is collection of items, documentation or records which are arranged systematically and that are associated with an organization or institution; it is also the name of the location in which the items, documentation or records are held. Several reasons can be linked to the fact that a vast number of archive facilities have opened over the past several years around the country. One being the large amount of records and documentation created by businesses, and the regulatory requirements that call for retention of those records and specified instructions for their storage. Another reason is the paper overload in offices which is being tackled this way (with the invention of the computer came the prospect of greatly minimizing the amount of paper in offices; however, this did not happen).

The orderly filing system an archive offers allows easy access and retrieval of the documents or records, and quick delivery to the customer, which is a beneficial. Archive facilities have become quite a potentially profitable business, and many storage companies are looking to enter into this business niche. However, a good archive facility must meet certain archiving needs that some storage companies cannot always fulfill. For this reason, it may be an idea to consider using a firm that specializes in archive storage and management. A large number of businesses are located in urban areas, and this is where you will find many of the specialized archive storage firms too.

Instead of using expensive office space for storing paper records, almost any company will find off-site archiving a more cost-effective option for storing paperwork effectively and minimizing the amount of it in the office. Doctors, dentists, lawyers and large and small corporations can use this choice and it is well worth taking advantage of.

In order to enjoy the full advantages of archiving, especially quick retrieval, pre-organize your files in clearly labeled archive boxes using an effective filing system that is easy to understand and follow. Doing this beforehand will help you to find a record easily and quickly in the future.

What to look for in an archive facility?

Climate control:
A key priority when deciding on a suitable archive facility is to choose one that offers climate control. Paper is very sensitive to high humidity levels of over 55% RH. When stored in an uncontrolled environment the accumulated moist in the air seeps into the paper and the dampness eventually causes it to disintegrate, and may even damage the spine of books which over time will fall apart. Another cause of damage to paper is mildew, which can be controlled in environments with RH levels of 55% or lower. The adequate storage temperature for paper products is 50-80 degrees F.

Easy Access:
Apart from around-the-clock, 7-day access to the archive unit, many archive companies offer convenient services at additional cost such as the possibility to hire archive specialists who can retrieve and fax/send the records to you at any given time. Another service on offer from many archive companies is to have the specialists visit your office and pre-organize records that need to go into storage and transfer them to your archive facility.

Available for hire through many specialized storage companies are archive experts who are skilled in organizing, retrieving, and delivering records upon demand electronically or in hardcopy, and even transferring them to your storage facility in an efficient manner. Their expert handling guarantees your records will reach the archive facility in the same condition as originally handed to them in your office.

Visit the archive facility and take note if at first glance the facility strikes you as well organized. Also, examine the accessibility outlay of the storage areas to ensure easy retrieval will be possible – pay attention to the width of the aisles; if the layout of the archive boxes enables you to see the labels on them easily, and check that the sturdiness of the shelves are satisfactory for holding your documentation and records securely.

Other points to verify are that different paper sizes can be held in the space and inquire whether storing electronic media is also possible. Most storage companies have progressed enough over the years to realize that being equipped to store electronic media is required to keep up with this expanding market. However, when carrying out your inquiries, ask about this in case it is not an available option at the particular facility you have contacted. The availability of such necessities may seem obvious to you, but it is wise to check out the facilities yourself and investigate what each firm offers, as not all of them meet these basic requirements.

Specialized archive storage facilities also offer such services as sales of archive labels and boxes, and office services like phones, faxes and computer access. These extras will most probably cost you a premium rate to acquire, however, convenience may prevail over the high cost when considering one versus the other.

It is important you do not overlook the remote, yet possible occurrence of partial or full damage to your stored records. Therefore, insurance is a vital subject to look into. The higher quality companies will urge you to take out sufficient insurance that will ensure adequate cover in such cases, and many of them will even advise you consider a supplemental insurance that will give you more than the basic insurance offered by the facility. Without electronic backup of your stored records, what is damaged or lost cannot be restored, so having appropriate insurance is an option that should not be ignored.