Document archiving is the storage of documentation that is no longer in active use but organizations need to keep this documentation as a type of historical record. Typically, organizations and businesses archive documents, but individuals also may archive documentation for various reasons. A series of considerations and methods associate with document archiving. In some cases, an organization will have a set of well-defined policies for managing documentation, within which the organization outlines an archiving procedure. Organizations can archive different media types, including electronic, with relative ease.
Organizations archive documents for a variety reasons, in most cases relating to the overall purpose or role of the organization. Often, organizations archive documentation because it is of cultural or historical importance. Alternatively, a business may have a legal or financial reason for keeping a reliable record of past documentation, for which archiving is the most effective management method.
Any organization with a need for document archiving has to carefully consider its procedures. Deciding what documentation needs to be archived, both in terms of past and ongoing operations, is naturally the primary consideration. For the ongoing documentation an organization produces, the organization may arrive at some sort of schedule for archiving. Archiving methods also vary, and the advance of computing technology has introduced a wealth of new tools, offering efficient, cost effective solutions in many cases.
As of 2011, software tools for document archiving have increased, giving organizations more opportunities to archive at a lower expense. Organizations can use software archiving as a tool, not only for documents that they store in electronic form, but also for paper documentation and other media. Organizations can scan or convert non-digital items for storage in electronic form, reducing the amount of physical space required for effective record keeping.
Risks are inherent in any document archiving system, and organizations must consider these when they create organizational archiving policy. The benefit of storing documentation in electronic form is only valid if the archives are secure. Organizations must therefore employ adequate safeguards to protect the stability and security of an archive, which archiving tools and services address in different ways.
The benefits of having an effective document archiving system have increased with the advent of technological solutions. Electronic records occupy less physical space and, in some cases, may not even reside within the main premises of a business or organization. For example, some organizations may use an external document management service. Another advantage to using electronic records is that organizations can easily and quickly make archived content available when required, often in a searchable electronic format.