Technology continues to change the preferred way organizations save their data and documents. Although microform documents such as microfiche and microfilm were a convenient way to store large amounts of information from news articles for libraries to blueprints for architect firms 40 years ago, today that mode of storage is considered cumbersome and outdated. Both were slowly replaced by a series of improved document storage options from floppy discs to CDs/DVDs and from hard drives and USBs to today’s cloud storage.
So, what is the future for microfiche and microfilm as storage methods? Here we look at what the future most likely offers these two outdated data storage options.
What Is the Difference Between Microfilm and Microfiche?
Microfilm and microfiche are both types of “microform” used to store documents as images on photographic film in miniature form. When the information is viewed, it is placed in special microfilm and microfiche readers which enlarge the image, so the content became legible. Microfilm is stored like a roll of film while microfiche is stored on flat sheets. Both options were very popular because they allowed organizations to record and store all their documents in a condensed form.
Back in the day, this was regarded as easy to catalogue, index and store without the need for the more cumbersome paper files. The film itself also had the potential to last hundreds of years when stored properly. Because of the key differences between the two formats, microfilm is a far more efficient way to store large amounts of information, as it can hold thousands of images compared to microfiche which can hold hundreds at best.
What Is a Microfilm Used For?
Microfilm provides a picture of any paper document of any size as a precursor to the digital images we use today. The paper files are photographed so the images can be stored in mass quantities on reels. Microfilm was commonly used by many industries requiring records and documents including periodicals, legal documents, entire books, and engineering drawings. However, this makes it challenging to store documents in a logical order if you want to add to a collection of documents.
Is Microfiche Still Used?
Interestingly, despite technological advances, many organizations still depend on microfiche to store documents. Some organizations prefer microform documents as they provide context allowing the storage of documents with relevant information instead of seeking files piecemeal like common searches today.
From Thousands to Hundreds of Thousands of Pages
Microfilm provided a massive storage option back in the day, with thousands of documents on one reel. It was a storage method that appealed to many industries. Of course, that appeal is waning, compared to the possibilities offered by modern technology. Organizations can free up more physical space without cumbersome microfiche and microfilm along with their indexing catalogue filing system.
Hard drive storage can store hundreds of thousands of pages of documentation per gigabyte. For example, even the typical laptop computer holds 500 gigabytes worth of data. It is also very inexpensive to store digital data using standalone storage solutions with thousands of gigabytes worth of data space available.
Improved Data Management
When you need to store thousands of documents, accessibility becomes a problem as well. While microfilm and microfiche allow organizations to make storage more compact, they still require an outdated search system with document management cataloguing. This is time-consuming to manage and search.
Digitization simplifies the manageability of your files making them easy to store in large quantities, and easier to add to, catalogue, index and search. You completely free up physical space for both the files themselves and the index cards to search them. Everything is categorized logically based on the organization’s search criteria so as files are added to the system, they are automatically sorted and organized so anyone can find them.
Improving Longevity of Document Storage
Although microfilm and microfiche offer longevity, they have to be stored properly to avoid damage. They are just as vulnerable to issues such as fire or flood, as paper. If damage occurs, the documents are lost. Compared to the lifespan of flash memory, you can literally save documents forever, and even have multiple backups to completely ensure they survive unthinkable conditions. Because of this, it is highly unlikely organizations will continue to depend on microfilm and microfiche as storage options in the future.
Digitizing Microfiche and Microfilm
The future looks to the digitization of microfilm and microfiche. Organizations will no longer depend on these outdated modes of storage but will also need to update their old microfiche and microfilm documents before they become worthless. Regardless of how much microfiche and microfilm you have on hand, it can be seamlessly converted into a set of digital files, so that all your documents become a part of the modern era. Digitization allows you to incorporate all records into one convenient, searchable, sharable and secure storage system and move to a new digital system you depend on for future document storage.
How Does Microfiche and Microfilm Digitization Work?
Digitization is a simple, efficient process allowing you to have convenient access to all documents regardless of their format. The process takes just three steps to transform your microfiche and microfilm for digital storage:
Step 1: Hire a professional digital conversion service
Investing in professional microfiche and microfilm conversion makes the switch much easier. This is especially true for major, high-volume conversions. The scanning service ensures nothing is accidentally destroyed or lost during the process, and that the quality of the images is maintained. If you are concerned about sensitive information, security is maintained throughout the entire process.
Step 2: Invest in document management software
Document management software allows you to seamlessly manage your newly digitized documents, secure them and even make them a part of the online cloud. They also become shareable from your secure system for each collaboration with authorized personnel, vendors, clients, etc.
Step 3: Prepare for future microfilm and microfiche document conversion
Once your initial conversion is complete, you can continue to convert new microfilm and microfiche documents as they arrive. Although your organization commits to digital documents moving forward, you might still work with other parties that continue to use microfilm and microfiche. You can continue to convert these documents as soon as you get them by investing in a microfilm and microfiche scanner.
Considering 87% of businesses are reassessing their transformation in order to meet their goals, using improved storage technologies is a must. In fact, 99% of businesses participating in the same survey said they have experienced at least one significant benefit of digitization including cost savings (45%), customer satisfaction improvement (43%) and workforce efficiency increases (42%).
Don’t let microfiche and microfilm documents keep you from achieving efficiencies. We can help you convert digital files quickly so you can benefit from modern storage technologies. Speak to our team today.