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5 Tips for Protecting Your Hard Copy Data

Organisations that create, manage, and rely on paper records need foolproof plans for protecting them. If a document or file falls into the wrong hands, the financial and legal consequences could damage your business beyond repair. Here are five tips from us for safeguarding your hard copy data.

1. Conduct a Records Inventory

Hard copy data protection begins by knowing what you have. Every file and document must be accounted for, so identify all possible storage areas, including:

  • private offices
  • file storage rooms
  • closets
  • basements

A records inventory takes time, energy, and effort. If it’s too overwhelming, consult with a specialist who can help. A team of dedicated indexing specialists will categorise and label your documents and files so you know exactly what you have.

2. Develop a Retention and Destruction Schedule

A retention and destruction schedule is a roadmap for how long to keep—and when to destroy—your hard copy data. It helps your organisation avoid keeping records beyond their useful life and the legal risks of General Data Protection Rule (GDPR) non-compliance. As a result, every file and document should be assigned a retention period and final disposition date. Whether for legal or operational reasons, retention and destruction timeframes should be documented. Regularly review your retention policy and communicate retention and destruction expectations to your team.

Developing a retention and destruction schedule can be challenging. For help, consult with a records management consultant who can create a customised plan for developing and monitoring a record retention policy.

3. Limit Access to Critical Documents

Sensitive information stored on paper documents is the same as sensitive data stored on a computer; both need to be protected from unauthorised access. File cabinets don’t offer enough protection from internal theft risks; you need physical access and tracking controls that allow you to monitor who has access to files. A record centre offers advanced security systems for protecting your hard copy data, including:

  • entry access controls
  • monitored video surveillance
  • fire detection and suppression technology
  • secure loading and unloading areas

Each box and file is bar coded, entered in a tracking database, and managed by background-screened records management professionals. This way, access to your hard copy data is restricted to select individuals within your organisation.

4. Destroy Files

Stockpiling outdated and expired documents increases your organisation’s privacy breach liability exposure. Thus, when your hard copy data reaches a final disposition date, it’s imperative to destroy it in a prompt and secure manner. A secure destruction service ensures your expired records and media are routinely destroyed. Locked collection containers are placed next to printers, photocopiers, and in other high-traffic office areas, making it easy for your employees to promptly and securely discard expired documents and files. Weekly, fortnightly, or monthly, your information is collected and professionally shredded by a uniformed and background-screened destruction technician.

5. Find a Record Management Provider

Protecting hard copy data is just as important as protecting digital data, so you need the right support for your organisation. Look for a document management provider who can offer a comprehensive solution for protecting your hard copy data throughout its lifecycle. To verify a prospective provider’s capability and reputation, ask for client references and tour their facility.

Archive Document Data Storage (ADDS) provides records and information management solutions for businesses throughout London, Bristol, Bath, and Swindon.

Natasha Rawley The File Queen: Expert in Record & Information Management, LPM Columnist.

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