[This guest post is by Carla Eaton of inkfarm.com.]
As we advance further and further into the digital world, the importance of a hard copy document wavers.With cloud storage, backup hard drives, and mass storage options, it may seem like hard copies of important business documents aren’t necessary—why would you need physically paper when you can have an infinite amount of digital copies?
What is a hard copy?
A hard copy is a permanent reproduction of a document in the form of a physical object. In the case of digital documents, a hard copy is just a physical paper copy of the digital file. This copy, then, is susceptible to a different set of dangers.
Why keep hard copy backups?
With cloud storage and other digital backups, printing volumes and volumes of business paperwork may be an overreaction. But there are many excellent reasons to take the time to back up your files.
1. Computers break.
The main reason is to assuage the fear of computers breaking—would you be able to recover all your important documents easily if that happened? Paper copies may not be the ideal for this task, but they’re better than nothing.
2. Hard copies are easy to reproduce and distribute.
Hard copies are great for reproductions. They are also easy to distribute, and can be read by anyone at any time (given that they understand the material), since they do not require assistant for external drives. Important business documents are usually archived in this way to create a tangible record of the material. These physical copies make it easier to pass on to other groups, generations, or those in charge.
3. Hard copies may outlast digital archives.If copies produced on high-quality paper, stored and maintained properly, it may be readable a century later, and perhaps much further in the future.
Books and other paper documents from centuries ago are still readable today with certain preservation techniques.
Electric data, on the other hand, can become unstable. It’s almost laughable how easy it is to lose computer data—an accidental coffee spill on your laptop and the contact information for all of your business’s customers could be lost.
4. Paper is always accessible.
Technology can also advance to the point of rendering equipment obsolete, such as floppy disks and eight-tracks.
You can create regular backups of important documents so you don’t have to print so many pages at once. It’s always good to have papers just in case.
What types of hard copies should I keep?
It’s important to keep a copy of all of your business paperwork:
- articles of incorporation (or other formation documents)
- tax forms
- financial records
- corporate bylaws
- IRS and other government correspondence
- information about your customers
Remember to keep these backups in a different location in case your business is destroyed in a fire or other catastrophe.
What don’t I need to keep?
It isn’t necessary to keep copies of every document you’ve ever needed.
For example, feel free to get rid of:
- copies of receipts from seven years ago
- quarterly statements from two years ago
- any documents with no long-term importance
Don’t let this paper fill your cabinets and folders!
How can I keep track of all of these print copies?
You can do it the old-fashioned way: bookshelves, boxes, and three-ring binders.
Or, if you don’t want to have to archive all these hard copies yourself, there are firms that specialize in document archiving and storage. The companies will not only create the physical prints, but may also offer off-site storage for it all. They help to monitor, preserve, and maintain it all.
Back up your digital documents now!
Why wouldn’t you invest now in hard copies when it’s so easy—and there’s so much to lose?
About the Author:
Carla Eaton has a B.A. in Mass Media with a Minor in Art and Design. She enjoys writing on the topics of business, technology, and design, and currently blogs for inkfarm.com, who specializes in Dell printer cartridges.