As a small business owner, protecting your important documents is a critical step toward preserving the future of your business. Though it might require some investment, protecting your documents will pay off in the event of any natural disaster or malicious attack.
Purchase a safety deposit box
Even in the digital age, the best place to store sensitive documents is arguably a safety deposit box at your local financial institution. These small storage units are beneficial for a number of reasons. To begin with, banks and credit unions more often tend to reside in areas that are more resistant to hurricanes, floods, fires, earthquakes and other natural disasters than your average home.
Furthermore, sensitive documents kept at home are more vulnerable to burglary than documents kept in a safety deposit box at your local bank, which uses high-security locks, alarms and video cameras to ensure your belongings are secure. At most banks, an employee will escort you to retrieve the box, after which you will be left alone in a private room to go through its contents. The bank will also prevent anyone other than yourself from gaining access to your documents.
“Banks generally verify signatures and identities of anybody who requests access to the box,” Justin Pritchard writes in a December 2018 article for TheBalance. Pritchard points out that depending on bank procedures, even sending someone with the power of attorney to act on your behalf will typically not allow them to access your safety deposit box.
Make a secure digital archive on your phone
Having a digital copy of important documents on your person can be a lifesaver in the event that your hard copies are destroyed or become inaccessible. Because people carry phones with them virtually everywhere they go, they double as an excellent tool for portable data storage. However, if you are keeping personal documents and photos on your phone, your first step should be to protect your privacy by using a password, touch ID or fingerprint to lock your phone.
Zouhair Belkoura, CEO and co-founder of Keepsafe Software, recommends using a photo vault app on your phone as an added layer of security. “Your phone (and photo vault app) should encrypt data on your device so that if your device is lost or stolen, it can’t be retrieved by anyone other than you,” they say. You can set both iOS and Android devices to encrypt stored data in their respective security settings.
Use cloud storage
Cloud storage is a very convenient solution; it makes documents available to anyone with access to the internet and with the right credentials. Storing your important documents on the cloud is the best way to protect them from natural disaster, though it comes with understandable concerns regarding privacy and security. However, one of the upsides of cloud storage is its flexibility. There are many different cloud-based storage services you can choose from, all with different features and some that offer a specific emphasis on security. For example, small business owners who want to store sensitive documents and grant limited access to them to other individuals may benefit from using software like Box. “Box … is a cloud-based file-storage system that provides multiple sharing options as well as sophisticated tracking feature so you know whom the document has been sent to, who’s opened it and who’s shared it,” Toby Nwazor of Entrepreneur.com explains. The best cloud storage systems won’t be free, but they’ll grant you extra reassurance that your sensitive documents are safe from natural disasters or prying eyes.
In many ways, your important documents represent your life and history as well as that of your business. Protecting the former is synonymous with protecting the latter. You may find that the most effective way to do so is to adopt all, rather than just one, of these methods.