As a business owner or manager you are likely aware how much paper your business uses each month to print documents – and how much paper costs. When you stop to consider the other costs associated with printing, including ink, employee time, resources, and dedicated space to store those printed documents, costs can grow exponentially.  

This is why many businesses are cutting costs, gaining efficiency and security, by migrating paper documents to digital.

Getting Started

You might be wondering if converting paper documents to digital makes sense for your business, and if the cost of a conversion will provide ongoing benefits and savings.  

To help determine the value, the first step is to calculate how much digital storage your business needs compared to the physical space it takes to house those same paper documents.

If you digitize your documents, you will need GB of storage space.

That's GB Flash Drive(s), GB External Hard Drive(s), or GB of Cloud Storage.

I would like to speak with ILM about digitizing my documents

An Example of Data Storage Conversion Calculation

If your company produces 500 documents a day, five days a week, keeping these documents for seven years requires over 900 filing cabinets.  Here’s the math:

500 documents x 260 days per year x 7 years


910,000 paper documents


91 filing cabinets

The contents of 910,000 papers that would fill up 91 filing cabinets could fit on 63 CDs. If you are estimating how much cloud storage you need, consider that the average size of each document is 50KB. In this example, the total space needed is about 45GB. This equals about 44 GB of storage which can easily be handled on an external hard drive.  If your company maintains its own website, chances are you are already using a server that the files can be stored on.

This means rather than devoting a room of space to filing cabinets, all of your company’s data can be stored on a server in a secured closet.

And unlike the finite space of a filing cabinet, digital storage capacity can often be increased by 10% or more with little or no effect on the cost. This provides your business with even more flexibility and savings.

Are you looking for a company to scan your documents, but don’t know how much it costs? Use our Cost of Document Scanning Calculator to estimate the cost of your project.

Planning For The Right Amount Of Digital Storage

Understanding your business needs is critical to guiding your project and planning for the right storage solution. You don’t want to run out of space too soon or overextend and pay more for something you don’t need.  

Too little data storage can lead to inefficient operations if documents are slow to load, unhappy clients who can’t easily access their documents or even legal problems if documents aren’t properly maintained.

With too much storage, you’ll spend more time and money than necessary acquiring, implementing, and maintaining storage devices that don’t ultimately serve your business.

Choosing the right solution could mean a smaller businesses starts by keeping data on DVDs or a hard drive, then upgrading to more storage or a server as their business needs grow.

The team at ILM can work with you to help determine the best solution for your unique business needs.  

Additional Benefits Of Migrating Paper Documents To Digital

Aside from space savings, there are many other benefits to migrating paper documents to consider including:

  1. Time Savings

    Time spent sifting through filing cabinets is a hidden cost of storing printed documents. Even with the most organized files, the time needed for employees to locate and later re-file documents adds up. Converting data to a digital format, which can be easily searched in a database, allows employees to instantly retrieve documents saving both time and money.

  2. Enhanced Access Control & Security

    Electronic data storage streamlines access control and security processes. While security measures still need to be thorough, it is much easier to manage secure access to digital files. There are no physical keys to distribute or dedicated secure filing rooms to monitor. This means you save time and money when there are lost keys, or re-keys if an employee leaves or a new employee is hired.
    Instead, digital files are limited to those who have a password you provide. It is easy for administrators to instantly update or change passwords and restricting which files employees can access – even during certain hours if needed.
  3. Easier Data Back Ups And Emergency Planning

    Data storage makes backup and disaster preparedness easier. When paper documents are lost there is rarely a backup housed elsewhere. If there is, the cost of housing a paper back up is costly in terms of supplies and maintaining a dedicated secondary space. In the event of an emergency, such as fire or flooding, moving or securing paper documents may not be possible before damage is done.
    Considering digital file backups can be stored in the cloud or an off-site server, even if there is an emergency and printed documents are destroyed in your physical office, you can still rest easy knowing your digital files are safe and secure.
  4. Regulatory Compliance

    If physical documents are compromised, business revenue and sensitive information can be impacted, which can also lead to legal ramifications. In fact, many industries have federal regulations governing the way data is stored. Having the right digital storage system in place is simply more secure and can help ensure compliance.

Who Needs Electronic Data Storage?

Most businesses storing paper documents can benefit from converting to digital, and any business using a form of digitized data needs a way to securely store it. Common examples include:

  • Information from an online form submission
  • Inputting data taken from customers via paper orders or over the phone
  • Payroll, tax, and human resources documents

While almost any business can benefit from digital storage, it is very common in industries including:  

  • Medical, dental, and healthcare
  • Insurance
  • Retail, e-commerce
  • Mortgage and lending institutions
  • Universities and schools
  • Commercial and residential real estat

These types of companies often handle large volumes of documents and data every day that needs to be maintained securely. For example, an online business would lose customers if buyer’s credit card information wasn’t handled securely or compromised. A medical practice would run into legal issues if patient data was lost or unlawfully accessed.

In some cases, local or state laws and federal regulations dictate data must be kept for a specified period of time. For these businesses, the right data storage strategy ensures their ability to maintain proper records while also using less space and resources.  

Converting Paper to Digital

Converting paper files to digital data starts with using the right equipment to scan all the paper documents which are then indexed and saved in a digital format.

Once this is complete the software and hardware needed to maintain the digital data are implemented.  

If you are ready to learn more converting paper files to digital, we can help you get a clear estimate of how much data storage you’ll need. We even offer a free test drive of our services.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do we calculate data storage?

If your company produces 50 documents a day, five days a week, keeping these documents for seven years requires over 90 filing cabinets. If you are estimating how much cloud storage you need, consider that the average size of each document is 50KB. In this example, the total space needed is about 45GB.


For more about digital storage calculators and data storage for your business, contact ILM today.