Why Off-Site Document Storage Solutions Do More Harm Than Good

Posted by Kristen Bowers on Nov 16, 2016 11:00:00 AM


The age of big data isn’t all moonlight and roses. The sheer number of gigabytes being produced every day presents a problem that filters all the way down to your IT department. There are 2.5 billion GB of data generated daily. Content clutter is expensive. Searches cost an average of $14, 252 per employee annually, so storage solutions are a critical issue, not only for your budget, but your efficiency, too.

Data is valuable. Used well, it enhances the return on investment of every department in your business, so storage solutions that maximize efficiency can increase your profits exponentially. There are two broad solutions: on-site or off-site document storage. Most businesses have document management initiatives, and 77% of them choose file servers as their main solution.

The Case Against Paper

Paper is unstable. It has a level of damage risk that reduces its lifespan to only a few years. Searching through physical data in off-site document storage is simply not an option for most. While the overt costs of scanning and storage are similar, the latter comes with other expenses:

  • Retrieval
  • Transportation
  • Rental
  • Retention and destruction processes
  • Human resources expenses for searches and maintenance
  • An alternative storage solution must be found and paid for within only a few years
  • Indexing

Off-site physical storage is so difficult to access that a mere 5% to 15% of these documents are ever retrieved. It's nothing short of a dollar drain, but backup media present as many disadvantages as paper documents do.

The Digital Drain

Off-site digital storage solutions are safer and more accessible than hard copies, but electronic documents come with an entirely new set of challenges, loss of security being a core problem. IT catastrophes need a solid risk prevention strategy at every stage of the data lifecycle. Destruction of records is as critical as recovery plans.

Off-site data storage's risk profile is far from comforting. Loss of backup is plaguing several industries, which must adequately protect clientele from identity theft or face legal consequences. Some states have enacted legislation requiring businesses to tell their clients if their personal information has been accessed illegally. Security breaches are a public affair in today’s age, and off-site document storage takes security out of your hands.


Backup data must be encrypted. Businesses can be sued for not taking reasonable precautions to protect information, but there is no single solution that keeps civil lawsuits at bay. Off-site storage usually requires shared servers, which increases the risk of litigation even if you’ve given no one a reason to subpoena you. Losing access to your documents is another risk that frequently arises during the summons process.


Server system downtime plagues companies who store their data off-site, largely because of a constantly increasing bottleneck. Servers that could previously cope with their data transfer rates are gradually losing performance as their data needs increase. You should have access to your documents 24/7. Gartner found that failed storage costs about $200, 000 per event; a significant loss, even for large businesses. In response, many off-site servers are using RAID 3 or 5 data drives to improve their uptime. This is a clumsy solution at best since it doesn’t make data recovery easier despite its increased cost. The cloud’s solution to overloaded bandwidth is much simpler to carry out: stay within your consumption limits or raise them.

If Microsoft manages to make its ambition a reality, it might one day store data on synthetic DNA strands. Until then, there’s only one practical solution to your data storage. Secure, accessible, and with incomparable uptime, on-site and cloud-based solutions cannot be outclassed.  

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