The Canada Revenue Agency requires small business owners to keep financial records for at least six years. Depending on your industry or financial objectives, you may need to keep additional records or keep records for even longer. If you are thinking of making the leap from paper records to electronic ones, there are several key storage options to explore.
Cloud-based storage is when you store your files on a third-party server. There are multiple ways to access this type of storage. You can simply save the documents you need as PDF files to Google Drive or a similar service, or you can use a dedicated document management app such as Hubdoc.
When you opt to use cloud-based storage, your documents are only as safe as the encryption and security methods used by the company offering the service. As a result, it’s critical to research options carefully. Fortunately, in most cases, cloud-based storage is completely safe. In addition, because your information is on someone else’s servers, you don’t have to invest in hardware or devote space to files.
In cases of fire, flood, or computer malfunction, you also don’t have to worry about losing information as your files are not stored in your place of business. However, to access documents from the cloud, you need an internet connection. If you don’t have reliable access to the internet, you may want to explore alternative storage options.
USB flash drives are a small and convenient way to store documents — essentially, with a flash drive, you can stick the equivalent of a filing cabinet in your pocket and easily carry it anywhere. However, small things are inherently easy to lose. Using flash drives is relatively simple, and once you buy the drive, you don’t have to worry about any additional costs. In contrast, some cloud-based storage providers charge a monthly subscription fee.
Flash drives work with any device with a USB port, making them extremely versatile and easy to share. Additionally, their style is relatively durable and tends to withstand bumps and falls. However, in the case of fires or other natural disasters, these storage devices are not as reliable as off-site cloud-based storage.
External Hard Drives
An external hard drive is a device you connect to your computer externally, to boost its storage. The set-up process is easier than taking apart the computer and increasing its memory with new RAM sticks. If you like, you can use external hard drives to back up information that is already on your computer.
Like flash drives, you simply pay once and never worry about the cost again. Generally, the more you pay, the more storage you receive. External hard drives take up a relatively small amount of space in your office, and although they are significantly larger than USB drives, they are still portable. There are pros and cons to every type of storage device. Ultimately, you may want to select two storage options and make backups of all your documents.