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off-site data storage

These Are Your Options

Buying Advantage

Buying Criteria

Beware Of Hidden Costs

Equip Yourself With The Right Facts

Ask The Right Questions

Questions To Ask The References

Other Important Factors To Consider

The Final Steps


Hardcopy Records Retention
This option specializes in the management of archival records and stores hardcopy records.

Magnetic Media
This option will not accept hardcopy records. It protects and manages only magnetic media, optical and micrographic information.

Hardcopy and Magnetic Media
This option combines both services.


Off-site storage accommodates data back-up programs, reduces in-house records maintenance, avoids errors due to media movement and protects vital information from natural and manmade hazards, such as fire, flood and sabotage.


You need:

  • A facility with adequate security, fire protection and back-up power systems that are tested and inspected regularly.
  • A vendor dedicated to managing and protecting the media you want to store.
  • A facility with humidity, temperature and contaminant controls; that is structurally sound and protected from manmade and natural hazards.
  • Your vendor should be accessible in a variety of formats to aid in recovery efforts.
  • A service with speedy, efficient records tracking.
  • Appropriate media packaging materials that are maintained in-house are vital to your business.
  • A vendor with flexible routing schedules and delivery vehicles equipped with two-way communication systems, climate control, fire extinguishers and security systems.
  • A facility with state-of-the-art and comprehensive employee screening and training sufficient to respond to disaster.

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Cost analyses can reveal hidden expenses. While shopping price, give consideration to the following:

  • Extra charges for weekend and holiday service.
  • Management fees and operational charges.
  • Additional fees for routing schedule changes.
  • Additional fees for disaster response or recovery services.

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When shopping, be prepared to answer the vendors' questions regarding:

  • Your current tape management system specifications.
  • The quantity and type of media to be stored.
  • Your requirements regarding media separation.
  • Pick-up and retrieval frequency.
  • Recovery service and disaster response requirements.
  • Testing and recovery plans; and hot-site location.

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There are some key questions you should ask potential vendors:

  • Are documentation procedures in place for pickup and delivery, refile and retrieval, record duplication and removal?
  • How do you differentiate your business from your competitors?
  • What is your policy regarding records retention?
  • What insurance coverage is provided, and what is your liability limit?
  • Do you provide mailing and shipping services to third parties?
  • Do you employ a record tracking system, and how is it backed-up?
  • Is there a requirement for segregation of customer media?
  • What additional services are available for disaster response and recovery?
  • As a condition of employment, are your employees required to sign a confidentiality agreement?
  • Can you provide a list of references?

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You will want to ask the vendor references some key questions:

  • What are the similarities between our and your company's off-site records protection, storage and management needs?
  • Why did you select this vendor and what others did you consider?
  • How long have you been contracting with this provider?
  • What was your selection process?
  • How are account discrepancies handled?
  • Have there been any lost or misplaced shipments?
  • Are weekend and holiday services adequate?
  • Is service consistent?
  • Have they designated a liaison specifically for you company?
  • Are all regulations regarding smoking and visitors at storage facility strictly enforced?
  • Are your costs within original estimates?
  • Are their statements and invoices clear and concise?

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  • Regarding 24-hour service, is the facility staffed around the clock, or do they deliver this service through employee on-call arrangements?
  • Is the moving company's storage service a sideline?
  • If the company operates its own fleet of vehicles, are the vehicles in good operating condition?
  • If the transportation services are subcontracted, what is the company's agreement with the subcontractor?
  • Regarding shelving, are you paying for space reserved just for you, or are your records shelved wherever space is available?
  • Does the company share buildings with other storage providers? If so, have you investigated the neighbors and checked for firewalls and shared security arrangements?
  • Are there regional natural hazards, such as flooding, mudslides and earthquakes?
  • Does the company respect and confirm your demand for confidentiality?

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  • Conduct site surveys of the vendor finalists involving your disaster recovery and security specialists.
  • Request that the vendor make a presentation at your facility.
  • Ask to meet with some of the vendor's librarians, drivers and handlers to experience first hand their attitudes and experience.
  • Request written replies to any questions not answered during site visits or vendor presentations.

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