HOW TO STORE DOCUMENTS
Are you planning to store personal documents in self storage? Protect and preserve your most important documents with these easy-to-follow tips from Extra Space Storage.
Things You’ll Need
- Packing containers (cardboard boxes, plastic containers, fireproof safe)
- Plastic page slips
- File folders
- Packing tape
- Waterproof labels
Step 1: Decide Which Documents You Need to Store
You can store any sort of document that you want to keep long term. Some of the most commonly stored documents include:
- Annual tax returns
- Marriage licenses
- ID cards
- Birth certificates
- Social Security cards
- Personal or business financial records
- Insurance policies and documents
- Property deeds or titles
Step 2: Organize & Scan Your Documents
Separating your documents into categories will make it easy to store now and locate when you need them.
Start by sorting documents into piles—like all personal tax returns in one pile, insurance policies in another, and so on. You can also take this opportunity to get rid of documents you no longer need. Be sure to shred any unneeded documents that show personal information, like your name, address, Social Security number, or bank account information.
Creating digital copies of your most important documents not only gives you a backup if something happens to the original, but it also makes it easy to quickly get information from these documents without unpacking folders and boxes.
Step 3: Pack Documents into Folders and Boxes
You already sorted your documents into categories, so now it’s time to pack them into folders and containers.
When storing your documents, you’ll want to pack in a way that protects these items from the environment (sunlight, mildew), pests (like rodents and bugs), and accidents. It’s best to first place documents in airtight packaging—like plastic page slips—to prevent mold, mildew, or water damage. Don’t use newspaper to wrap or cushion your documents because print can transfer to paper.
Then, sort documents into folders and label each one (like Tax Return 2018, Tax Return 2019, etc.). Finally, put the folders into boxes or locked safes and mark what’s inside with a waterproof label.
Step 4: Find a Secure Storage Facility
Security should be your number-one concern when deciding where to store your sensitive or private documents. To ensure the safety of your documents, look for an Extra Space Storage facility nearby that offers:
- Fencing around the property perimeter
- Video surveillance throughout the facility and property
- Electronic gate access with private keypad entry codes
- Indoor storage units with controlled access
- Secure access to your floor only (if it’s a multi-level storage facility)
- A facility manager living on-site
- Individually alarmed storage units
Step 5: Get a Climate-Controlled Storage Unit
Security isn’t the only concern when storing important documents. You also need to protect these sensitive documents from the heat, cold, humidity, and excessive moisture. Climate-controlled storage can do just that. Climate-controlled storage is available at many Extra Space Storage locations and is designed to keep your self storage unit at a consistent temperature between 55 and 80 degrees at all times.
Step 6: Consider Your Space Needs
Extra Space Storage facilities all offer a variety of storage unit sizes, ranging from 5×5 to 10×30 or larger, depending on the location.
It’s best to rent a unit that fits all of your document boxes and allows for easy access to them. For example: If you only have a few boxes of important documents, then a 5×10 unit might be a good fit for you because it’s the size of a large walk-in closet. On the flip side, if you have many boxes or want to store additional items along with your documents, a 5×15 or larger-sized unit may be a better choice. You can get a better idea of what will fit in various self storage units in our Storage Size Guide.
Step 7: Carefully Store Your Documents
Once you’ve found secure, climate-controlled self storage for your documents, it’s time to move them into storage.
It’s a good idea to raise document storage containers off the ground with shelving or pallets in your storage unit. Place lighter boxes above heavier ones to protect them and move items you need to access more frequently toward the front of your storage unit and make sure the labels are displayed so you can easily see what’s inside each box.
When using a larger storage unit, leaving a small walkway to be able to access items throughout your storage unit, especially if you plan to take items in and out on a regular basis.
Have questions? Remember that your facility manager is an excellent resource for additional tips and assistance in protecting your important documents in self storage!