In 1990, the average cost per gigabyte of hard drive storage was $11,200. By 1995, that number had already diminished considerably, to $1,120. Average storage costs have continued to fall exponentially ever since, hitting $11.00 in 2000, $1.24 in 2005, and an astounding $0.03 by 2014. In short, it doesn’t cost much these days to store your company’s data. Whether you are using on-site hard drives and servers or working with a Cloud-based storage provider to backup your data offsite, you are by nature paying a fortune less for storage than you would have 25 years ago. Even a terabyte of hard drive storage goes for $30 or less in 2015.
Yet in spite of the fact that storage now costs next to nothing, many companies will still make storage capacity and storage pricing their top priority when it comes to choosing a Cloud storage service or document management system. Companies are often approaching the search for a DMS with the perspective of “This will clear up storage space,” rather than looking at the search for a document retention system as a way of improving security or government compliance.
Document Retention Software: What You Pay For
If your company is searching for document retention software and is doing so with maximized storage space as the top priority, you are already making a mistake. Why? Because what you pay for when you purchase a DMS for document retention and deletion purposes is more than just raw server space. Speed isn’t the number one factor either, though modern hard drives or SSD (solid-state drives) are much faster and more efficient than older computer storage mediums.
On the contrary, when you purchase document retention software you are paying for convenience, security, and compliance. Digitizing your company’s documents is convenient because it makes finding the correct file as easy as typing in a search term, instead of digging around in filing cabinets. And digitizing your company’s documents is secure because most (effective) document management systems use advanced encryption and other measures to keep your files safe.
Document Retention in the Financial World
To understand the compliance side of document retention, let’s take a look at one industry where document retention guidelines are both observed and enforced. The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, also known as FINRA, is a non-profit organization that the United States Congress has entrusted with regulating financial companies (stockbrokers and securities firms) with the goal of protecting American investors. FINRA is permitted by the government to conduct audits and investigations of these financial firms to ensure market integrity.
Among the rules and laws that FINRA helps to uphold are numerous document retention and deletion guidelines. Over the years, FINRA has designed and enforced numerous different policies in regards to how long financial firms must hold on to specific files and documentation. The files in question include customer account records, records of orders and transactions, customer complaint records, and more. While retention requirements vary, it is most common for FINRA to require 3-year retention periods.
In addition to guidelines about how long specific types of documents must be retained, FINRA also has rules about how those documents must be stored (in terms of security and accessibility) and how they must be destroyed or disposed of after the fact.
How eFileCabinet Can Help Your Company Meet Document Retention Guidelines
FINRA is not the only organization that monitors best practices for document retention and deletion. Government organizations like the SEC and government acts like HIPAA also lay forth guidelines for document retention, security, and more. Bottom line— if you are going to digitize your company’s filing system, it is in your best interest to also have a document retention policy in place. In addition to keeping you out of trouble with FINRA or the SEC, observing document retention best practices in your business will also help you avoid liability for stolen or compromised customer data.
At eFileCabinet, we can help you to establish smart, consistent document retention guidelines for your business. Our document management software not only makes it easy for you to digitize your files and organize them virtually, but it is also designed with document retention in mind. First of all, we secure all of your files with 256-bit encryption and other state-of-the-art security features. With eFileCabinet, your files are secured both at rest and in transit, to minimize the possibility for hacks or leaks.
Secondly, eFileCabinet makes it easy for your company to automate its filing system. Say you are a financial brokerage firm and you’re holding on to brokerage orders and dealer transactions for past clients. These files must be retained for 3 years, per FINRA guidelines, and must be kept readily accessible for the first 2 years. With eFileCabinet, you can set up automated activity at both the 2-year and 3-year marks, first to move or archive the file in question from one location to another, and second to securely delete the file from the server. These automated steps guarantee compliance and save your employers the time of having to go in and move or delete files manually.
The kicker? eFileCabinet is no slouch in the storage space category either. Our software packages come with 250GB, 500GB, and 1TB of free storage, respectively, with extra storage available for additional fees.
Are you interested in trying out eFileCabinet and seeing how a consistent document retention and deletion policy can keep your business safer, smarter, and more compliant? Fill out the form at the left-hand side of the screen to request our free demo.