Many small businesses have used the same filing system for years, and many of these rely solely on hard copy, paper files. Making the move to digital storage allows your employees to access necessary files from anywhere at any time. It also ensures that files will never be lost to a fire or flood. Transferring your company's files into the digital, cloud-based storage world may seem like a difficult task, but by following these four simple steps, you'll be ready to make the move with ease.
1. Convert Paper Files to Digital
It's easy to back up new files digitally, but what about the countless boxes of existing paper files? These files all have to be consolidated in your cloud system to improve efficiency and protect the information in case of damage to your hard copies. You'll need a scanner, preferably a high volume digital scanner, that accommodates multiple pages at a time. If you don't have a—canner at home, or if you want to ensure you're using a secure scanner, you can visit any Staples store to securely scan your documents. When you're finished, make sure the newly created digital copies are placed into the correct folders as they're scanned, as this will make the next steps much easier.
2. Check Government Regulations
After converting your paper files and storing them digitally on a hard drive or memory stick, check the governmental regulations for your industry. For example, in the healthcare industry, companies must abide by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). The various laws for industries in the United States outline different security standards for online storage of sensitive documents. So do some research on your industry's storage requirements before transferring files out of your internal company network.
3. Find a Secure and Trusted Digital Storage Site
There are dozens of cloud storage sites to choose from, and choosing the right one depends on your company's specific needs. Some sites have higher encryption levels to facilitate storage of highly sensitive files, but cost substantially more than others. Each site has different monthly or annual rates and a variety of capacity options, ranging from just a couple of gigabytes of storage to hundreds of terabytes. Consider how much data you currently have ready to store and opt for a plan that has at least 25% greater capacity than that. This will give you the space to continuously add files as your company expands. Remember, you can always expand your plan if you ever get close to running out of storage. Some of the most trusted and popular cloud storage sites are Dropbox, Microsoft OneDrive, Google Drive and iDrive.
4. Time to Upload
The final step is to upload your files onto the cloud platform you've chosen. It's easy, but it could take some time. The user-friendly programs offered by major cloud storage sites streamline the upload process for you. Depending on the amount of data you have to transfer and your internet upload speed, this step could take hours, days or even weeks. In the meantime, set up accounts for your employees and train them on the use and benefits of your cloud storage system. Most of the major cloud companies also offer mobile apps for employees to download to their various devices.
Small businesses are slowly moving towards the digital storage world — and for good reason. From allowing employees to access files from anywhere to protecting your company and client information from natural disasters, switching from paper to digital file storage makes sense for small businesses.