Why cloud storage is not always useful

Cloud storage is fine, but it can have its limitations. It’s a great place for storing information in vast quantities, but completely useless for the physical records that information has been taken from.

Certainly old information can be digitised and stored on the cloud, but what then happens to the original? This train of thought covers all manner of material that is just; well, too important to be destroyed, but not important enough to be kept immediately to hand.

National Archives at Kew

Consider all the documents stored in the National Archives at Kew:

• Firstly, there can be a great deal of it, as anyone who has visited the National Archives at Kew will testify

• Secondly, storing it in the wrong kind of conditions might cause it to deteriorate

• Thirdly, it might not be needed for months or even years. And who would think of destroying Lincoln’s copy of the Magna Carta or the Domesday Books in this picture by Andrew Barclay, just because a copy had been kept on the cloud?

Clearly, special storage has to be arranged, asking the important questions:-

• How do you select a suitable site?
• Who will look after the material?
• How will it be accessed from storage, or taken to it?
• What sort of conditions must it be kept under, and how will the process be managed?

Documents

The National Archives, as you’d expect, is the UK’s leading authority on record-keeping for England and Wales, and holds material stretching back through time for more than 1,000 years. It has produced an excellent guide advising organisations on what issues need to be addressed when developing an offsite store for documents and records.

The extensive document draws attention to a dozen areas it advises need attention, and works through the process with sound hints and tips about areas as diverse as location, transport arrangements, and what to do with particularly vulnerable items.

It offers suggested questions to ask, and explains why they need to be asked. And it also draws attention to other legislation which might have a bearing on storage plans for any public body – including the Public Records Act 1958, the Data Protection Act 1998, the Freedom of Information Act 2000 and the Environmental Information Regulations 1992/3240.

So, when it comes to taking on the very latest in storage systems, remember that there will always be room for ‘old school’ solutions to certain areas of storage problems, which is when ‘old school’ will never go out of style.

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