How document shredding would make Hollywood films shorter (and possibly better)

How document shredding would make Hollywood films like Wall-E shorterDocument shredding and data destruction done correctly can make all the difference for company security. It can also completely change the plot of many Hollywood films. Here’s a rundown of how some of them might have played out, had the characters known we existed.

Star Wars: A New Hope

The Emperor could have fulfilled his ambition to rule the universe forever, if it hadn’t been for leaked documents. The Death Star, formidable as it was, had its critical weakness exposed because someone didn’t destroy the blueprints. If they had embraced document shredding, Luke would not have destroyed the original and might never have had the chance to confront Darth Vader. Palpatine, you should have gone to SFS.

Saving Private Ryan

An order to retrieve a soldier from the front lines because his mum wants him home? You could risk the lives of your men to fetch him, or you could hand the order to SFS and let us vanish it from existence. Ryan doesn’t even want to be retrieved. So why go all that way, Tom Hanks? Why go?

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Because no good Star Wars trilogy can start without a leaked document, The Force Awakens’ entire plot is built around a ‘Map to Skywalker’ that presumably was drawn by the man himself, even though he did not want to be found. Perhaps he needed to archive the information somewhere in case he couldn’t remember where he was. Of course, a different level of security is needed when Kylo Ren can extract the map from your memory using the Force. So far at SFS, we’ve not had to deal with such a situation. 

WALL-E

All the memories of earth were stored aboard the spaceship that kept humans suspended in space. If the (spoiler alert!) rogue autopilot had destroyed the data, no doubt humanity would have never returned. This would have been quite a sad ending, so it’s just as well they archived everything in digital format, ready to be uncovered by the most adorable robot ever seen.

The Hobbit

What do you do with a secret map leading to a secret entrance on a mountain housing a dragon who’s waiting for an excuse to destroy a city? You could go and wake up the dragon, get momentarily rich and then perish in fire. Or you could shred the map to make sure nobody ever does such a foolhardy thing. Still, we learn from our mistakes.

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone

Let’s see Dumbledore, you’ve got a stone that would give Voldemort a chance to rise to power again? You could hide it behind a matrix of trolls, three-headed dogs, living chess pieces and a magic mirror. Or you could just put the stone in our state-of-the-art shredder. Our shredder would probably complain a little – it’s meant for document shredding after all – but it’s all in the name of stopping He Who Must Not Be Named.

So if you’re trying to stop a dark wizard or you’ve recently finished work on a Death Star, give us a bell. Or if there’s other less dramatic documents you need securely shredded, or data you need destroyed, don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Document digitisation and the end of the world as you know it

Document digitisation: a young memory card helps an ageing floppy discIn the Restaurant at the End of the Universe, Douglas Adams described a place at the end of time where you could sip champagne while watching the Big Bang happening in reverse. A pretty good evening’s entertainment, but not quite as explosive (or should that be implosive?) as the moment that is taking place before our eyes right now.

The digital revolution is causing both excitement and concern, innovation and re-entrenchment. Thanks to document digitisation, vast archives can be searched in seconds, shared without leaving your laptop and documents need never leave a physical trace. It’s quite the spectacle. While our waiter brings you your choice of fine wine and this evening’s band strikes up a tune, let us pull back the curtain and entreat you to enjoy the end of the world as you know it.

Everything becomes data

Document digitisation allows all your archives to sit in the palm of your hand. You may choose to keep your original hard copies, or you can wave sayonara to them once they have become data. You’re going to have so much space in your empty offices, you’ll finally have room to swing that cat that’s been getting on your nerves. One day you’ll be able to upload the feline as well. 

A click away

Have you ever unfolded an A0 technical drawing on your desk? There isn’t much desk left. Storing the thing throws up even more complications. But now they and everything from everyday reports and invoices through to ancient archives and military blueprints can be accessed on a laptop, tablet or even a phone. This isn’t a security issue either, since they can be encrypted beyond the sight of prying eyes. We can scan anything for you and although we haven’t yet scanned the kitchen sink, you might be able to get running water from your phone someday soon. 

No out-of-date analogue

Analogue is gripping the cliff edge by its fingertips in the form of DVDs, CDs and Blu-Ray. But much material has already fallen into the ravine and been trampled by a stampede of wildebeest. The good news is that we can silence Scar’s laughter and bring back Mufasa – taking VHS, cassettes, Betamax, reel-to-reel, cine, video and floppy disks, then releasing this captured material into the wild again with digital technology. 

What you could once only listen to in an 80s car stereo, you can now enjoy pretty much anywhere. Digital transfers made like this don’t get damaged, lose quality or fade. You can share them across the web or play them on a handheld device. The other good news is that we can convert your analogue materials into any digital form you like. Maybe document digitisation and the end of the world as you know it is also the preservation of the world as you once knew it.

Whatever you need

Nothing needs to be static anymore. Digital formats mean anything goes and we can also easily convert your data from digital to microfilm or microfiche, from microforms to paper and from paper straight back to digital. You are no longer limited to one format and you can get professionals like us to destroy the disused formats when you’re done. We haven’t turned lead into gold yet but our data conversion services are getting close.

Okay, okay, so perhaps this isn’t quite a disaster movie! The end of the world as you know it is actually more of an exciting opportunity rather than a sense of impending doom. All things considered, it’s probably a good thing. If you’d like to make use of one of these digital opportunities, get in touch and we’ll build something truly future-proof together.

Microfiche destruction: killing tiny fish, and other things it’s not

Microfiche - a small fish?Okay we admit it, we really like destroying things. Obliterating them from the face of the planet. Documents, data, DVDs, hard drives, microfilm, microfiche. There’s never been a moment we haven’t enjoyed annihilating what’s been handed to us. But before you get the wrong end of the proverbial stick, we should clarify exactly what we mean – and, for the purpose of this blog, what we don’t mean – when we say microfiche destruction.

Not: Destroying tiny fish

Even if we wanted to go on a sea critter killing spree on behalf of a client, we’d struggle to catch them, if we could find them at all. The world’s smallest fish, the paedocypris progenetica can be hard to see, even if it’s in the palm of your hand. Not really one to oven bake in tin foil and serve with a lemon. Unless you are a miniature ‘Who’ person from Dr Seuess’s Whoville, in which case you’d be in for a feast.

Not: Getting even with Michael Fish

If you remember Britain in 1987, you might still hold a vendetta against the naysaying weather forecaster, but we won’t assassinate him for you. Revenge won’t give you peace. Fun fact: the weather forecaster has on several occasions opened aquariums as a celebrity-with-the-scissors. In Hunstanton he was heard to say, “This is my o-fishal opening of this shrimply gorgeous plaice.” While he should probably be prevented from making puns again, destroy him we shall not. If you are concerned by our apparent need to explain away the idea that we are trained killers, you shouldn’t worry, we don’t get assassins in this country. 

Not: Destroying an outdated archive method

Mirco-what-now? If you’re on the younger side of the spectrum you may be tempted to think that microfiche is a dead method of archiving documents. But you’d be missing out. 

So what is microfiche and microfiche destruction?

Microfiche is a tiny sheet of flat film that is covered in a matrix of micro images. For storing hard copy versions of valuable magazines or important documents, there is no more efficient method. We can convert your documents to microfiche, indexing them and creating an archiving solution. So why might you want to do that instead?

While there is a benefit in switching to digital (we do have our head in the Cloud too, and can convert your documents to digital if you prefer), there is sometimes a greater benefit in sticking with microfiche. For a start, most digital forms of storage have existed for little more than a decade – and might not last forever. Whereas, microfiche is guaranteed to last for five-hundred years. Unless of course, you give it to us to destroy, in which case we’ll incinerate it gladly. If you are looking for microfiche destruction services, get in contact and we’ll give you a free quote.

Alternatives to professional electronic data destruction (and why they might not work)

Scan Film or Store - Alternatives to professional electronic data destruction (and why they might not work)It can seem appealing to erase your own digital footprints. It’s the cartoon pleasure of sweeping a brush behind you as you walk, stopping the bad guys from following you. DIY alternatives to professional e-data destruction can seem a simple way to cut costs, but it’s more likely to lead to a breach of security. Here’s some DIY electronic data destruction methods and why we don’t recommend them:

Emptying the bins

Emptying your digital recycling bin may seem like you are erasing data from existence but it’s more like hiding it behind a false mirror. Your operating system can no longer find the information, but it can be readily recovered using file recovery software. So it’s only worth relying on emptying your recycling bin if it contains nothing more precious than embarrassing photos of your office Christmas party. 

Reformatting

Once upon a time, reformatting was considered the way to flush your old data down a black hole. But yesterday’s black hole is today’s open handbag. Reformatting is still a useful tool for repurposing, say, a home laptop so you can hand it down to a family member. But any sensitive data would be quickly retrievable with software you can download for free on the internet.

Data wiping

Sounds promising. With a name like data wiping you’d expect it to leave no trace. The process even allows you to go on using the hard drive afterwards, saving costs. But it is time consuming and most importantly, it’s fallible. Any data that is invisible to the host system is invisible to the data wiping software and will still be recoverable. Plus, if there’s any malicious code involved, the wiping process can be compromised. In other words, there’s all kinds of things that can go pear-shaped.

Hitting it with a sledgehammer

Everyone enjoys smashing things (especially if you’re the big green alter ego of an otherwise docile doctor). But while taking a sledgehammer to a hard drive is a more secure method of destruction than the previous options, it is not enough to prevent a skilled person from extracting the data with the right equipment. You may enjoy the smash the hard drive makes, but you’d also be taking a hammer to any guarantee of security. Maybe break up an old sofa instead.

Degaussing

Using a very strong electro-magnetic current does give results. So good are the results, in fact, that we do it ourselves. There are limits, however, as a degaussed hard drive looks exactly the same as an ordinary one. Quite frankly, it’s not worth trying it yourself and having any mix ups with serious sensitive data. That’s why when we handle the process with meticulous precision, recording the serial number, security-sealing already secure crates to move them. Then after degaussing (wiping data using an electromagnetic current), we shred the hard drive into miniscule metal chips that couldn’t be put back together by anything on earth. We even recycle the scrap metal, so it’s kinder to the environment too.

Having DIY skills is an admirable quality. But what no auditor wants to hear is ‘I destroyed the data myself,’ because that translates as ‘I attempted to destroy the data and I can’t prove that I did.’ Sadly, there isn’t a kind of data destruction kit that can provide you with all the necessary materials for secure data destruction.

But you do have us! And we’re lovely and we know what we are doing. We’ll even give you a Certificate of Destruction for your auditors and they will be most pleased. Get in touch with us for a free, fast and highly competitive quote.

The savviness and silliness of archive document storage

Scan Film or Store - The savviness and silliness of archive document storageDocument storage is a no brainer. It frees up space in your workplace, saves on storage costs and gives your business breathing room so it can grow in other areas. But what’s the best approach to document storage and how have you chosen to do it? Here some of the sillier ideas we’ve come across for storing documents and the savvy solutions we recommended instead.

Shipping it to Antarctica

Have you noticed how much space Antarctica takes up on a globe? Imagine how many secure warehouses you could put there. We know; the mind boggles. It’s only a matter of time before document storage companies make a move on the icy continent and recruit sea lions as alternative guard dogs. Protecting documents from the frost may prove tricky though, as would retrieving the documents at speed.

Secure, super-fast retrieval

We might not have figured out frozen tundra storage yet, but we do have sites that are protected and restricted access. So they’re probably even tougher than an ice shelf for data thieves to get at. The other advantage is that we can retrieve and deliver archived documents to you within a matter of hours. It might not be like having a vault in Antarctica, but it is like having your own secure compound just down the road, with easy access for you and no one else.

Recruiting Sherlock Holmes

The guy remembers everything. He’s uses that Mind Palace thing and could probably store all the world’s sensitive data inside his head. We’ve been trying to recruit him as a consultant for a while. Unfortunately, we can’t seem to get hold of him. Of course, there’s a rumour going around that he’s not actually real… but he’s faked his own death before, so he’s probably just as capable of faking his non-existence.   

Advanced barcode tracking

In the absence of the famous detective, we’ve still got a savvy way to keep tabs on everything we’re storing. Our advanced barcode tracking system logs everything within our auditable document management system, ensuring your documents are effortlessly tracked and traced. It’s our very own Mind Palace.

Shrink rays

Zapping everything till it fits into a small desk drawer would be wonderful. But we can’t seem to find a shrink ray that works. Of course, we’d also need a growth ray that could zap documents back to their original size, or else we’d have to supply our clients with complementary microscopes. Perhaps we haven’t thought this one through.

Other ways to make it micro

“Honey, I Shrunk the Documents to a Manageable Size,” might not make for the most exciting Hollywood title, but it can still bring you joy. Converting documents to microfiche or microfilm can create secure back-ups of critical information that are guaranteed to last for 500 years (unless you want us to destroy them for you). We can take care of the micro conversions in addition to or instead of storing the original hard-copy records.

Unless of course, you are ready to fully embrace…

Going digital

Everything’s going digital these days (except a few things like gardens and teeth). It’s not just a trend to follow aimlessly, it is a secure and efficient way to store sensitive data. We have a scan on demand retrieval service that can return documents to you electronically within two hours, should you need them.

Essentially, our savvy solutions (if we do say so ourselves) stop you from worrying or wasting time on document storage and retrieval, which means you get to focus on your business instead. Which is the way things should be. If you’d like to find out more about how we can help you thrive, or you’ve managed to locate Sherlock Holmes, don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Microfilm destruction: can I do it at home?

Match destroying data - scan film or storeWe know what you’re thinking: microfilm destruction sounds like so much fun – can’t I have a go? But just as re-enacting World Wrestling Entertainment can lead to more broken bones than imitators expect, microfilm destruction too is something you should not try at home.

But I have a shredder!

We get it. Shredding is fun. Unfortunately because of their size, shredded microfilm images can still be read. So it really is just a waste of shredding energy that could be better invested in heavy metal guitar solos. Side note: standard issue shredders aren’t a secure way of destroying any kind of data – almost anything can still be pieced together and read afterwards – we, however, undertake to destroy it properly.

Microfilm, microfiche and aperture cards are designed to last for 500 years. You know, just in case you still need it in five centuries. Just as the power of One Ring could only be undone by the fires of Mount Doom, the mighty microfilm can only be destroyed by professional incineration.

Incineration? I can do that myself right?

I’m afraid that lighter won’t do much good. The same goes for a bonfire. You’d even struggle with your own furnace. Microfilm burns at 1,000°C and is highly combustible. So if you do manage to destroy it you might burn down any nearby buildings too. Plus, when it reaches burning point, microfilm releases chemicals that you don’t want to breathe in. Even if you have your own gas mask, there are strict (and necessary) regulations surrounding incineration. In the spirit of Boromir and his many memes: “One does not simply burn microfilm.”

So how come you get to do it?

We’ve got a track record for destruction (don’t we sound cool?) and also for safety, security and professionalism. Our vetted staff will remove your microfilm from its current storage, place it in security sealed and bar-coded bags and securely transport it to the place of incineration. The bags are weighed and scanned to ensure everything is accounted for, then we witness the incineration on your behalf. We know you wanted to see it too, but at least this way you’ll receive a Certificate of Destruction and a Waste Certificate for your audit trail.

Is there anything you can’t do?

We haven’t learned how to turn lead into gold yet, but we’re getting pretty close. Seriously though, it doesn’t matter how much microfilm you throw at us (preferably not literally) we’ll be able to take care of it. Check out our case study of how we oversaw the incineration of 24 tonnes of microfilm, which we had to transport in 1600 bags. Over 4 days, we watched it burn, staggering the process appropriately, so that the chemical fumes could be safely contained.

Can you take the Ring to Mordor?

Um, no. We have to draw a line somewhere. We may add destruction of magical items to our services list at some point but in the meantime, if you have any microfilm, microfiche or aperture cards that need to be shown to the flames, don’t hesitate to call us.

Unusual document storage solutions you might not have thought of

Tardis - space saving storage - scan film or storeOffice too cluttered? Bored of filing cabinets? Cloud storage too mainstream? Fear not. Out of our limitless ingenuity we have drawn up these alternatives to the tired status quo.

Abstraction

They say a picture is worth a thousand words, right? We don’t think businesses have truly considered how painters could streamline operations. If you were to hire a renowned artist (or perhaps a fine art undergraduate) they could translate all your long-form documents into an abstract image or two. A blue circle in the centre of a white canvas, for instance, could say everything that needs to be said about last year’s employee records. Of course, you would also need to hire art critics who could accurately interpret the abstract images. You might need to make some room for error, but at least you won’t need to make room for wordy documents.

Bury it all

Whenever pirates needed to store important or sensitive information, they found a distant island – possibly inhabited by cannibals – and dug a large hole. We think there’s valuable lessons to be learned from such an approach.

Even if hackers were to get their paws on the maps that marked the treasure, they would have to sail through dangerous high winds, fend off sea monsters and escape the clutches of Long John Silver. Businesses considering this storage option will need to settle on an alternative method for storing the treasure maps themselves. If you bury those too, your documents may be lost for a few generations.

Put in under the mattress

No one would ever think to search under a mattress would they? This unprecedented and highly original idea would require you to divide your documents between trusted employees, who would stash the sensitive material under their snoozing place. Documents stored in this way are reported to be better rested and no longer demand as much coffee in the mornings.

Hand your files to Julien Assange

Sounds counter-productive possibly. But if you accept the pessimistic belief that privacy is a thing of the past and the government is watching you through your phone camera anyway, you might as well store your documents where everyone can see it. Just pass all data to your least favourite whistleblower and let them store everything on the internet for you. Benefits include: short-term saving on time and funds. Downsides include: potential breach of law, possible company collapse.

Use TARDIS technology

Don’t waste space by sticking to a mere four dimensions. The Doctor has already shown us that we can conceal an entire space ship in blue phone box, so doing the same with our documents should be as easy as fending off another wave of daleks. When your desk can hold a warehouse of material in its drawers, storage will never be a problem again. As long as your desk doesn’t travel freely through time and space.

Deep freeze

If you don’t think you’re going to use your documents anytime soon, you could consider freezing them for the future. It’s a good option if you’re reluctant to destroy data in case it comes in use in a few centuries time. Then your children’s children’s children’s children’s children’s children’s children will be able to read your 2018 refund policy and allow its legacy to continue.

Use a professional

Ok, so maybe not an unusual solution. But an unusually good one! If you pick the right team, of course. Seriously, there are no magic formulas here, no matter what Marie Kondo says. If you need stuff stored – and you need it stored securely, in a climate controlled environment that is alarmed and monitored 24-7 – then you need to give us a call. We’re really very nice and we’ll even provide boxes and come pick everything up for you.

If you’d like to discuss your document storage needs, get in touch with us today.

Document scanning service: how to get great value for money

Piggy bank - get great value for money on document storage with Scan Film or StoreAlright, this is it. We may have signed the Official Secrets Act but we judged that releasing this information is in the public interest and is therefore worth the risk. If after reading this you discover we have been incarcerated, I hope you will value our sacrifice. Here are our not-so-secret tips for getting great value from our document scanning service.

Trust the professionals

Some things you can excel at doing by yourself. Learning an instrument for instance. Or being introverted. It was even possible to do synchronised swimming by yourself in the Olympics for a while before the judges realised that it wasn’t really meant to be a solo sport (honestly, it was a thing – look it up).

When it comes to data scanning though, you’re likely to waste more time, energy and even money if you try it without a professional scanning company. For a start, our scanners are almost certainly way cooler than yours. If you’re unsure about anything, feel free to fire us a question first, or ask us for a free sample scan of a document.

Keep the staples in

You might think it wise to remove staples from your documents before sending them to be scanned. After all, this will surely shave precious seconds – and therefore pennies – off the time the professionals are working on your project. Thing is, without staples it’s harder for us to tell where a multi-page document starts and ends. And while we love document scanning with all our hearts, we prefer it to be an efficient process. Staples are the age-less organisation tool that speeds our work and makes everything that bit cheaper for you.

It’s cooler in monochrome

Black has always gone with everything (LBD anyone?) and who doesn’t appreciate white space these days? Colour can be beautiful too, but when it comes to document scanning it will increase the size of your files – which is a shortcut to spending a lot of money on cloud storage. Sticking to black and white (where possible) will save the pennies, speed up your servers and give you a document collection that will never go out of style.

Skip the duplicates

Doppelgängers make for exciting films and convincing tribute acts, but it’s better to leave them out of your files. Providing you have the time, check that you’re not sending a document scanning company identical pages in the same file. Before you give us three copies of your sales brochure, kill off two of the time-draining imposters and send us the real Spartacus.

Throw out the memorabilia

It’s easy to get nostalgic. Even the most useless documents might be tempting to scan into a digital attic. How else will you climb up in years to come and examine the files covered in digital dust and say, ‘Hey, do you remember when we put that slogan on this sales brochure 15 years ago? It was a shocker.’ It’s fun to reminisce. But it’s also expensive. If you’re not likely to benefit from a document in future, think twice before you choose to scan the past.

Keep indexing in check

Indexing is the compass that helps you find your way through the dark and dangerous lands of the digital file. It helps you find your documents once they have been scanned by assigning them searchable terms. Choose those that will be most helpful to searchers but, if you can keep the number to a minimum, it will speed up the scanning process, keeping costs down. It will also help narrow down your search results when you need something specific. Don’t fear, you’ll be able to find your documents again in the digital world. It’s not a bottomless pit – take it from the people who live there.

Document scanning might not be as costly as you think. If you’d like us to scan a free sample for you and provide you with an estimate for your project, give the team a call today.

Why secure data destruction is fun (no really)

Destroyed hard drive - Scan Film or Store secure data destruction servicesIf you’re a doubter or a hater, we understand. On the surface of things, secure data destruction can seem unexciting. But (straight-face on) we think it is fun. “Why?” You may legitimately ask. Well, that’s what we’re here to tell you.

We’re professionals in destruction

How many times in life can you say you’re going to destroy something today? Unless your name is Arnold Schwarzenegger or you create machines with CO2-powered axes for Robot Wars. Not only do we get to destroy things for a living – not just paper but microfiche and microfilm, hard drives and backup tapes – we get to hand out Certificates of Destruction to our clients. They’re a lot more interesting than invoices.

It’s serious business

Serious is the polar-opposite of fun, right? Not always. Because the security of data is so essential, the technicians at SFS have signed the Official Secrets Act. Which basically puts us on par with MI5. And the fun doesn’t stop there. We’re talking security-sealed bags, wiping hard-drives with powerful electro-magnetic currents (it’s called degaussing, fact-fans), and saying lines like, “Take it to the incinerator.” Does it sound like the best job in the world yet?

We complete the circle of life

When destroying paper documents, we use a state-of-the-art cross shredder that blitzes everything into confetti then pulps the results. It truly is a celebration worth attending. All data has a death day and we are the gatekeepers who see it off into the great beyond. For paper that great beyond involves becoming tissue paper – it’s like an ironic form of reincarnation. The late documents may become art supplies or a handy cure for a runny nose. It’s a fascinating analogy that you can interpret how you wish.

This is MoD level destruction

Seriously, forget your average office shredder. Our techniques are next level. We can reduce microfiche to powder (try sticking those fragments back together, corporate spies!), shred backup tapes into 20mm or even 6mm scraps, smash up CDs and DVDs into tiny little chips and incinerate pretty much anything (so long as it’s legal – if you’re thinking of bumping someone off, we’re not the company for you). And the best bit is that we can do all of this on site – yes, even the incineration – so none of your top secret data need leave your care for a moment.

We are the digital Marie Kondo

Thanks to the newly-famed Japanese organising guru, the world is discovering that tidying is an opportunity to choose joy. We may not have our own Netflix show yet, but we like to think that we bring joy into people’s lives by reducing the clutter. It’s not just saving people money on storage costs, its creating space for other things in life, like fun. Think of all the things you’ll be able to do with an empty office. It’s satisfying to give that to people. Plus, we digital spring clean whilst humming the tune to “A Spoonful of Sugar.” We’re still waiting on Mary Poppins to show us how to sing it properly though.

We herald the digital age

Just as a rock musician takes pleasure in smashing their guitar on the ground after a concert, we take great pleasure in annihilating the paper, CDs and DVDs of this world. Paper has been an amazing friend to us all. It’s been with us since 100BC and has seen us through many a century, but a couple of millennia is long enough. Likewise, DVDs and CDs were kind to us in the analogue years, but they probably shouldn’t be clogging the archives anymore. Secure Data Destruction is a fitting send off, heralding the digital age in a shower of confetti, a blaze of fire or an electro-magnetic hurrah.

If you need help with secure data destruction of any kind, contact us today for a quote.

Hard copy vs digital file – which one is best and when?

Paper vs digital - blog post by Scan Film or StorePaper versus digital. To be honest, we’re fans of all sorts of documents so it’s really very hard to pick a favourite. You may as well be asking us to choose a favourite child. How can you compare the tactile experience of holding the printed page with the ease and convenience of a screen based reading experience?

Actually, you probably can – if you contextualise the choice. Here’s a bit of an exploration of when hard copy files trump digital ones and vice versa.

Space saving ability

This one is kind of a no brainer. If you have lots of space and you don’t mind what you fill it with, by all means collect that paper documentation. But if, on the other hand, space is at a premium – and let’s face it, we live on a fairly size challenged island where land isn’t exactly budget-friendly – then you probably can’t afford to have more paper hanging around than is absolutely necessary. When it comes to space saving, digital files are a winner every time.

Access on the move

Remember when you could buy the internet and keep it on a shelf? Yes, the good old Encyclopedia Britannica was the ultimate in looking stuff up in the mid-90s. But not quite so convenient for travelling about. If you work from multiple locations or spend a lot of time on trains, for example, then you probably don’t want to lug endless reams of paper around with you. It’s not good for your back for a start. In this case we’d opt for digital files and whatever device you prefer to access them on.

Legal requirements

There are times when we have choices and times when we don’t. One of the times we don’t is when we have to go by what the law says. And sometimes the law says stuff about the kinds of documents we need. For example, businesses are legally obliged to keep COSHH records for 40 years. Which means that, while you may decide you want to scan these for day-to-day use, you’ll also need to store the originals – either in-house or off site – in case the HSE asks to see them.

Ease on the eyes

You know how your eyes start to get kind of weird and sticky and a bit sore when you’ve been staring at a screen for too long? That doesn’t seem to happen when you’re reading off actual physical paper. At least not as quickly. Although there’s no proper science-backed reason why reading should be nicer or easier or more comfortable IRL (that’s In Real Life kids, keep up) it just is. OK? At least that’s our experience. So for extended reading we’re choosing paper.

Freedom from wifi

The thing about technology is that it’s great until it doesn’t work. Like the moment your internet goes down or you travel to some remote corner of the country where 3G is worshipped like a deity and 4G is just a legend. That’s when you wish you had a good old fashioned piece of paper in your hand that you could read. If internet access is likely to be an issue then we’d go with paper as our favourite.

So you see? It may not be a simple case of one being better than the other but there are definitely factors that will help you decide whether hard copy or digital files are better for your needs.

Whatever the case, if we can be of assistance – whether that be by storing your documents so they don’t clutter up your offices or scanning them and helping you create a digital archive – do let us know.

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