Individuals and businesses have a variety of choices when it comes to filing equipment. Some options offer high levels of security while others can accommodate a high density of files. The amount of space you have, the sensitivity of the files and your preference for physical or electronic records all influence your choice of filing equipment.

Physical Filing Equipment

Filing Cabinets  

The filing cabinet is an office staple. Four drawers allowing files to be stored laterally is standard. According to Smead, a document management company, filing cabinets are beneficial if you need to keep records secure. Because these cabinets can be locked, a company can limit access to sensitive files while still allowing employees and visitors to enter the room.

Out of all the physical filing equipment options, cabinets tend to be the most expensive and have the most limited capacity. Smead notes that a four drawer filing cabinet that takes up a 6-foot-by 24-foot filing area can hold approximately 8,448 folders.

Open Shelving

An alternative to filing cabinets is open shelving. Units are similar to open bookcases and are specifically designed for folder height and width. The design allows users easy access to files and can be either stationary or be mobile if rollers are attached to the bottom.

Open shelving saves on space and money. Smead notes that shelf filing equipment typically is three times less expensive than filing cabinets. Compared to a four-drawer filing cabinet, a seven-tier open shelving system has 80 percent more capacity. Mobile shelving can be placed in higher density and offers 405 percent more capacity than cabinets.


Aside from the filing equipment, you'll also need supplies like file folders, labels and end tabs to make a physical system function properly.

Digital Filing Equipment

Individuals and businesses that want to take advantage of technology can store files digitally rather than physically. Electronic documents are saved directly into the system, and physical documents can be scanned and converted into a digital format. Digital filing systems allow users to search information quickly and keep data secure.

As with physical filing, users have a choice of systems and equipment for a digital system. Files can be organized and stored locally on a laptop's or PC's internal hard drive.

External Devices

It's convenient to use a computer's internal hard drive to store files, but you risk losing your information if the hard drive is corrupted or physically damaged. To mitigate this risk, users may want to back up data to an external device. PC World recommends backing up critical files to an external hard drive and using a thumb drive to transfer files as needed.


Users can also back up data to a cloud-based service, like Google Drive or Dropbox, which doesn't require any additional equipment.


Businesses that want multiple parties to have access to the same data may want to invest in a server. Servers act as a central repository for many users' files. PC World notes that businesses can host multiuser applications -- like databases and enterprise resource planning systems -- on the server. This makes it easy for a large number of individuals to have access to the same files. Server data can be backed up to an external device or the cloud for extra security.

Physical servers look similar to a high-end PC. Alternatively, businesses can choose a cloud-based hosting service -- Amazon Web Services, Windows Azure and Rackspace Cloud Services are all options -- which doesn't require a physical server.