All businesses must keep some records on paper for certain periods mandated by state or local laws. Businesses like accounting or legal firms deal with a huge volume of paper documents due to the nature of their work.

These businesses must keep their documents in a safe place. Cluttering an office with filing cabinets is uncomfortable for employees, and renting a larger office is expensive. Fortunately, there’s a simple, more affordable solution to this problem. Businesses can use self storage units to store their documents and files.


Here are some useful tips for businesses that are considering self storage:

1. Get a climate-controlled self storage unit

Paper documents are fragile. Environmental factors like humidity and extreme temperatures will damage or render them unreadable. It’s important to pick a climate-controlled storage unit that moderates humidity and temperature throughout the year. This way, documents are safe for long periods.

2. Ask about the storage facility’s security features

Storage facilities are usually very safe places. Most of them have security cameras, limited access and electronic gates or barriers. However, it’s wise to make sure that the facility has reliable security policies in place before storing important documents. You should also ask the facility’s manager about other amenities you might need. Do they accept deliveries by courier? Are trolleys available for customers transporting boxes?

3. Organize your documents properly for storage

Your main goals are to keep your documents safe and to have easy access to them when needed. You can achieve both goals by organizing your documents properly. Use paper envelopes or plastic holders to separate your documents by category, date and so on. Then, put the documents in sturdy, lidded and transparent plastic boxes. Attach a label to each box with information about the documents inside. Use shelves to arrange the boxes in your storage unit.


You could also purchase filing cabinets for the storage unit, but they’re more expensive than simple shelves and boxes, and they take up more space.

4. Designate which employees have access to the documents

Provide an employee ‑ or several employees, depending on the size of your business ‑ with access to the storage unit. Giving all employees free access to the unit could create unwanted situations. Documents can get lost or disorganized. Designating the person(s) tasked with retrieving and replacing documents helps avoid these issues.

5. Create a log for document entries and exits

A document log serves two purposes. First, you have clear records of accessed documents. Second, the log informs you when older documents are no longer necessary. States impose different time limits for keeping certain paper documents, so it’s useful to note in your log how long you need to keep each one. This way, when time’s up, you can recycle them and avoid clutter from papers that are no longer needed.

Self storage offers multiple advantages to businesses looking for a place to keep documents and files. The service is straightforward, easy to use and costs are lower than renting more office space. Businesses can rent self storage units for as long (or as short) as needed.


Maria Gatea is a real estate and lifestyle editor for Yardi with a background in Journalism and Communication. After covering business and finance-related topics as a freelance writer for 15 years, she is now focusing on researching and writing about the real estate industry. You may contact Maria via email.

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