Traditionally, important documents and data have been kept securely and provided as a rich source of information. Be it financial, educational, medical, legal, governmental or any other sector, documents have always been archived and stored so that are always available for reference.

However, historical methods of archiving have been mostly replaced by newer methods that use digital methods of storing required documents, freeing up physical space without compromising on document integrity or availability.

So why is document archiving so important?

Usually up to 50% of the cost of doing business goes into storing documents and keeping records. Document archiving can help a lot with driving down these costs. Some of the benefits of electronic document archiving include:

-  Documents are accessible electronically and it’s possible to bring them up with ease, increasing efficiency.
- Cloud archiving uses much less space, both physical and in your IT system. This frees up resources, which in turn allows you to spend them on other aspects of the business.
- Usually storage is limited and it’s always expensive. Document archiving saves documents in secondary storage - this solution is much cheaper.

Since most of the documents and the larger part of data are not required at ant given moment, the documents can be safely stored in such a fashion that they are easily available when needed, but on the secondary storage. Automated software also makes it easier to store less used records on the secondary storage, where they can still be accessed but don’t use up valuable space in the primary system.  

Electronic archiving also makes it easier to connect files together and compress data, lowering the required space for storage further. Also it is possible to encrypt the data, adding a layer of protection as only a person who has the necessary key can access the data. Some data has to be stored for a particular period of time to meet official regulations. For example it could be legal, financial or medical records and naturally archiving helps in all these situations.

Some of the best document archiving practices

Document archiving makes sense only in case the records are usable.

- It is necessary that the records and data when archived are the same as the originals and error-detection algorithms are being applied to ensure this.
- When archiving documents, it is very important to make sure that both hardware and software used are kept up to date and that the archives are always usable and readable.  
-  Operating systems, file formats and other technological updates may not be able to access documents stored using outdated systems, so it is crucial that archived documents are migrated or converted into the newer systems so they don’t become unreadable and thus useless.
- If archived documents are tagged they can be removed once their usefulness is over, freeing up resources and space for other data.
-  When archived documents are especially important, for example legal, historical or medical, it is vital that they are always available in a usable and readable form and not saved in such a way that their usability is not possible.

The right ways of archiving documents that are part of document management systems have many benefits including lowering financial costs, improving system performance and conforming to legal requirements. At the same time to ensure accessibility and readability of archived documents and data, it is critical that software and hardware are upgraded when necessary and the archives moved to the new systems to ensure usability.