Electronic data destruction – how not to get caught out

Melted hard drives - Scan Film or Store - Electronic data destruction - how not to get caught outSo you’ve had a bit of an office clear out (well done for getting everyone involved – which of our tactics did you use?) and now you’ve got some stuff you need to get rid of. A few (million) boxes of old paperwork, a stack (or several) of redundant CDs, a couple (ok maybe more) of laptops that are beyond repair, enough promotional USB sticks to build a scale model of the Eiffel Tower (there we go).

You’re not so naive as to chuck the paperwork in the bin where any old Nosy Nelly could have a snoop at it. After all, it might not contain the blueprints for a secret underground lab but with GDPR agents lurking behind every water cooler (NB this may be an exaggeration) you don’t even want customer address details finding their way into the wrong hands.

But electronic data is just as easy to access, if you know what you’re doing. Which means ditching things like CDs, hard drives and USB sticks in the skip is a really, really bad idea. Especially if there’s confidential data on them. Or if you have so many that they won’t fit in a skip.

Here’s what to do instead…

Computer hard drive destruction

The thought of letting your frustrations out on redundant technology with a sledge hammer might be appealing. But it’s not especially effective when it comes to securely destroying the electronic data on the hard drive. Just think about all those films where the determined cop salvages a seriously banged up laptop from a crime scene and gets the tech whiz kids in data forensics to extract a juicy clue that leads him (or her, equality fans) to the killer.

The alternative? Get us to degauss that bad boy for you. We use serious powerful electro-magnetic current to wipe out any electronic data so it disappears for good. Then we shred them into miniscule metal chips that even that determined cop couldn’t piece back together. Oh and we recycle them too. Because, you know, the climate crisis.

CD and DVD destruction services

Talking of shredding, we can do the same with CDs and DVDs. We’ll shred ‘em down to 6mm chips so they’re good for nothing except maybe some sort of edgy mosaic craft project. And again, we’ll recycle them so you don’t have to worry about the environmental impact of your office clear out. 

There’s not really anything else to say about this other than it’s suitable for both secure office data and also Celine Dion’s back catalogue. Just saying.

Microfilm and microfiche incineration

You’d think microfilm and microfiche could be shredded along with paper and it can, to 2mm particles. Unfortunately that is not the safest way to destroy them. The images are too small. Even a thin sliver could reveal more than you’d want it to. That’s why burning – nay, incinerating – these items is the only sure way to ensure no one will ever be able to access the data again. 

And before you grab the lighter fuel, it’s worth knowing that microfilm and microfiche burn at over 1000C and release toxic fumes so a) you need specialist equipment and b) you need a licence. We have access to both. Plus we can issue a certificate to say it’s all been done in an environmentally safe way, which is pretty cool.

Other stuff we can destroy

Hmm, let’s see. Magnetic computer back up tapes. X-rays. Documents (don’t get us started on why standard office shredding isn’t good enough). Top secret stuff government stuff (yes, we’ve done work with the MoD and no, we can’t tell you about it – we’ve signed the Official Secrets Acts. Seriously.) 

Basically, if you want something to disappear, give us a shout. As long as it’s not your mother-in-law, we can probably help.

The annual office spring clean – how to get everyone involved

Window looking out at a spring garden - Scan Film or Store - The annual office spring clean - how to get everyone involved

Ahhh spring. The mornings are lighter. The daffodils are out. The temperature has crept just a fraction above “brass monkeys” – for the most part anyway. And with the advent of spring comes that great British tradition – the annual office spring clean.

Now you may or may not be the sort of person who finds this sort of thing fun (what do you mean no one finds it fun??) but the truth is that offices can very quickly get cluttered. And we all know that a cluttered office is not a great environment for a happy and productive team.

That’s why our document storage and document scanning services are so popular. People may not like tidying but they do like things being tidy.

Anyway, we’re not here to argue the case for spring cleans. The point is that if getting organised is on your to do list then we’re here to inject a little levity into the process – and help get everyone else involved so you’re not left to slog through it on your own.

Hide stuff people want

This one is super simple. Just hide stuff people want in the messiest places in the office. You might hide Easter eggs. You might hide booze. You might hide an important report that’s due to be delivered to a very big client first thing tomorrow morning.

The point is that as people dig through long forgotten drawers and filing cabinets, they’ll be able to ditch the trash along the way. Nothing like a little incentive to get the team moving, right? 

Deploy gamification tactics

Yes, that is a word, promise. Gamification is the process of making boring stuff slightly less boring by calling it a game. Parents have been using this technique for millenia (“Open your mouth for the spinach choo-choo train!”) but the business world has only cottoned onto it relatively recently.

Gamification often involves creating an actual computer game with work stuff crowbarred into it but there’s no reason why it can’t work on a low tech scale. Create a list of tasks – taking down out-of-date flyers from Barbara’s last three cake sales, fishing the stapler out from behind the cupboard where Bob chucked it that time he was trying to juggle at the Christmas party – and assign each with a value. Whoever gets the most points by the end of the day wins a prize.

Threaten to burn everything

This might feel a little extreme but if you’re really at the end of yourself, you might want to try shock tactics. We wouldn’t recommend going as far as actually standing in front of the archive room with a lit match, but giving people a deadline and letting them know what you intend to do should they fail to meet it could be the motivating factor that’s needed.

The same goes for the fridge. Don’t worry about sifting through to see what’s still in date and what has grown a layer of mould that could supply a small pharmaceuticals firm for the next few months. Simply make a rule that every Monday morning / Friday evening you’ll be emptying the contents into the bin and you’ll soon find people are taking their gross tupperware containers home with them.

Get them to pay for professionals

Now here’s a thought. What if your team didn’t have to do it? What if you could get the professionals in? You can just hear them breathing a sigh of relief, right? Well if they want professionals, they can pay for professionals. Out of their own pockets, out of their departmental budgets, out of the funds from Barbara’s endless cake sales – whatever it takes.

Bring in the Scan Film or Store team to box up your archived documents and pop them in our purpose built storage unit in Bridgwater where it won’t all be getting under your feet. Or have us scan it all so you can store it digitally in the cloud where it won’t be taking up any physical room at all. Then get a cleaner in to give the place a good going over (we don’t do this bit, I’m afraid).

So, which one do you think will work best on your lot? If you think getting some document storage and scanning support could be helpful, give us a ring and we’ll talk you through it. We can also help with secure document and data destruction if you should unearth anything that needs to be wiped from existence.

You don’t have to take our word for it – have a read of our case studies from companies we have helped already.  

We smashed our fundraising target! Guess how much we raised?

The Scan Film or Store team with their new defibrillatorSo you may remember the rather dramatic blog post we wrote in November last year about our colleague Sophie. A few months before, at the age of just 28, she had collapsed at home in front of her 2-year-old daughter. For no reason that anyone can explain, she’d had a cardiac arrest.

Thankfully Sophie’s husband was there and was not only able to call an ambulance but to perform CPR until they arrived with a defibrillator and could shock her heart before taking her to the Bristol Heart Hospital.

Sophie’s experience shocked (honestly, no pun intended) all of us and we decided that we wanted to do something to make a small difference locally, as part of our 10th birthday celebrations. 

Sophie set up a JustGiving page with the aim of raising the £1500 needed to buy a public access defibrillator (AED) for Woodlands Court Business Park, where the Scan Film or Store HQ is located.

You guys are the best

The community stepped up with even more enthusiasm than we could have hoped for. Friends, family and other businesses on the estate and beyond pledged their support. The Bridgwater Mercury printed the story to spread the word. At SFS we chose not to send Christmas cards, instead donating the money we’d have spent to Sophie’s cause.

Before long we had hit our target – but the figure kept on growing. In the end the total raised stood at nearly £2,500. Amazing!

A new top quality defibrillator suitable for adults and children is now installed in a secure wall case at Woodlands Court thanks to Integrity Electrical in Bristol, who kindly installed it at no charge. London Hearts came along to give us all specialist training on how and when to use it, and several of the other businesses on the estate joined in.

Funding research and care

Smashing our fundraising target also means we have cash left over to donate to the Bristol Heart Institute at the BRI and to SADS, a charity that raises awareness and does research into sudden arrhythmic death syndrome, also known as sudden adult death syndrome. 

We know that this post doesn’t contain your usual dose of document storage and scanning related tips, puns and general silliness, but we hope you’ll excuse the diversion. After all, cardiac arrest could affect any of us – and we might not all be as lucky as Sophie was.

Sophie’s JustGiving page is now closed so if you’d like to donate then please do so directly to one of the charities we’ve mentioned. And if you want to find out more about SADS please visit the SADS website.

Document storage – the risks of adopting a DIY approach

Mouse running through shredded paper - Document storage - the risks of adopting a DIY approachThere are many things in life you’d never attempt to do yourself. Like rewire your house. Or clean the outside of a 25th floor window. Or catch an escaped anaconda. Unless you were an electrician, an aerial window cleaner or zoo keeper, obviously. But when it comes to document storage… well, that’s a different story.

On the surface, it’s understandable. How hard can it be, right? You pop down to Staples, pick up a few reasonably priced archive boxes, stick all that pesky paperwork inside, lob it into the nearest spare room. Job done, and no need to pay those onerous ongoing storage fees.

If it were as simple as that, we’d be encouraging you to follow just such an approach. But sadly it really isn’t that straightforward. We know this because we’ve been doing it for more than 20 years and we’ve seen just how many ways there are for document storage to go wrong.

Here are a few things to add to your risk assessment* when you’re weighing up whether to take a DIY approach to your document storage or to use a professional service like ours.

Fire and flood

“Never going to happen,” you say. “Wellllll….” we say. Thing is, it may not be one of the top three most likely problems you’re going to face in any given week (depending on where your HQ is located and how cavalier your attitude is to chucking lit matches about). But on that rare occasion where a disaster like this does strike it can be devastating.

That’s why we built a bespoke, climate controlled storage warehouse that is monitored and alarmed 24-7, alerting us to the slightest whiff of a problem so we can swoop in and protect the precious papery loot within.

Rats and other nasties

Much more likely than fire or flood and potentially just as damaging. Imagine you’ve finally located that invoice from 2006 that your biggest client suddenly wants a copy of… only to find the key information has been chewed to the point of illegibility. And it’s not just rats. Mice, pigeons, wasps – all enemies of the humble office document.

GDPR fines

Don’t worry, we’re not here to bore you with the intricacies of the recent GDPR legislation. What you do need to know is that we could if we wanted to. In other words, we understand the ins and outs of the legal ramifications of storing physical data and we’ve done everything we need to to ensure the stuff we store is covered. Can you say the same about the spare room at your HQ?

Damp conditions

We’re not talking floods here. We’re not even talking about a leak in the corner of that spare room where you’re stashing your documents. We’re talking about the natural moisture in the air. It’s not good for paperwork. If you’re really unlucky, you’ll end up with a rather unfortunate spread of mould across it all. Oh and don’t imagine that sunlight is any better – then you’ll get fading. You really can’t win, can you?

Being flattened

It’s not just your documents that are at risk if you go down the DIY document storage route. You’ll be surprised by how often we see storerooms piled high with boxes just waiting to topple on an unsuspecting staff member innocently looking for a hard copy of last year’s accounts. That could be you, in which case – ouch. Or it could be a member of your team, in which case – lawsuit. And also – ouch.

Losing stuff

Far less dramatic, far more likely and equally frustrating – and potentially damaging to your business. If you need to get hold of documents quickly, you might think the DIY approach is the only option. After all, you don’t want to be bombing across town to retrieve files every five minutes, do you?

But what are your filing skills like? Do you have a system in that store room of yours? We’ll wager it’s not as good as ours, which includes individual barcodes so we can instantly pinpoint where any given box is. We can also scan documents (even oversized documents) if you need to see them quickly and even send them round via courier so you don’t need to leave the comfort of your desk.

If you’re rethinking the DIY approach to document storage and want to find out how much it might cost to bring the professionals in, give us a call. A chat is always free.

(*What do you mean you haven’t done a risk assessment? Never mind, we have, just give us a call and we’ll look after everything for you.)

The new decade decision: to destroy or digitise

Man holding pile of papers - The new decade decision: to destroy or digitiseThe Twenties are upon us. But instead of piling into jazz clubs, drinking bootlegged liquor and swooning over Picasso, we’re preparing for a decade driven by technology, speed and a very different set of rules. 

During the last 10 years it has remained possible – just – to do document storage the old way. We could wistfully enjoy the way that paper piled our desks, crammed our drawers and blew away whenever the window was opened. We could send humans to fetch documents and be glad when they returned within half-an-hour, out of breath and a little sweaty. We could even keep expanding our DVD collection, blissfully ignoring the internet and its popularity these days. 

“That’ll do” won’t do anymore

If we keep doing things the old way, the times will take us out. Our approach to document storage needs to be digital. And anything left cluttering the office needs to be burned with pyromaniacal glee or cross shredded and pulped into soft tissue. 

This decade there’ll be new challenges that no-one has predicted yet. With technology screaming ahead like a runaway train, markets and industries could change overnight. The more out-dated our systems of storage and operations, the harder it will be to adapt when the next change comes. We could cross our fingers and hope for the best, or we could build something robust – something future-proof.

Speed of the times

Instant isn’t a moment too soon. Now, couriers are racing against same-day deliveries, and WiFi is in direct competition with lightning itself. There’s no place for the slow any more.  These days, if your website takes longer than a second to load, Google won’t even allow you to appear in their top search results. It’s a pirate code of “anyone who falls behind gets left behind”.

While we may be able to function internally at the speed of last year, the moment we start working with other business partners, contractors and clients, the expectation will be now. Generation Y already represents well over a quarter of the world’s population and soon generation Z – who have known smartphones their entire lives – will be making key decisions for many businesses. Things are only likely to get faster.

Whenever we digitise (scan) documents for clients, we can embed sophisticated search and retrieval software in the analogue format of your choice so that everything remains an instant away. That data can then be uploaded to cloud systems to ensure that impatient millennials can find it in less than a moment.

Fire proof or fire away

62% of businesses never recover from major loss of data. Offsite storage is a sensible precaution – which we do also offer – while digitisation protects you from the three data doombringers: damp, heat and age. We’ll offer to keep backups of whatever we digitise so that your business can survive an apocalypse with ease.

Time’s up. Our documents are in need of digitisation or they’ve become clutter, so they should be shredded/incinerated/insert destructive verb of choice here. Whether you need to create space for the new decade, or you need to prime your documents for the future, we can make it happen. Check out our document scanning services to go digital, or our data destruction services to give the past the send off it deserves.