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Document archiving is storing documents that are no longer of use now and might be required later on.

A mid-size business deals with 10,000 documents on a yearly basis. Keeping a track of them manually is a big ordeal.

Fortunately, document archiving helps in clearing the clutter. By properly categorizing, digitizing, and labeling documents, document archiving helps businesses locate documents even after years because you never know when you need them. Think, audit, references, or anything else.

Let’s take a look at document archiving and how to optimize the document archiving process so you never lose a document, ever.

What is Document Archiving?

What is Document Archiving?
What is Document Archiving?

Document archiving is the long-term secure storage of documents that are not in use right now.

These are fixed documents – documents that can't or shouldn't be changed or edited – that are not accessed or used regularly. Archiving inactive papers is frequently essential for legal or compliance reasons or in case they are required for an audit. As such, archived papers need to be effortlessly retrievable, even if they are not positioned in regular usage. Only inactive documents are nominees for archiving.

Documents that are dynamic and utilized in the day-to-day systems of a business are not adequate for archiving – they require to stay in active use. (For all those documents that you do not require to archive? Shoot them away when you are done with them)

You can archive both digital and physical documents.

Digitizing traditional documents into an electronic archive is the preferred strategy for many institutions, as storing electronic documents in the long term is easier and more cost beneficial.

So, some institutions have hybrid archives that comprise both digital and physical documents.

See how you can save 80% of your costs with the Nanonets document archiving platform. Get a free product tour or try it yourself.

What are the various ways to archive documents?

When it arrives to archiving documents, there are 3 major storage solutions: physical archiving, electronic archiving, and scan-on-demand storage. Let’s see a summary of each of them.

Physical Archiving

Physical archiving is essentially paper storage.

It is when you archive your documents by documenting them away or spending an off-site secure storage capability like a storage vault to stock them for you. It is widespread practice for large industries that require retaining a paper trail of non-mission-critical documents.

Electronic Archiving

You can also digitize your documents and store them in digital cloud storage or on-premise storage. You can use document digitization software, like Nanonets, to extract information from the documents and store it in your database.

The benefit of digital storage is that it conserves a lot of space. You do not require any physical space to stock your document—everything is saved in cyberspace.

Nonetheless, this is not for everyone. Many industry owners like conserving physical copies and do not like trusting their whole document archiving network to cloud storage due to security reasons.

Scan On Demand Storage

Scan-on-demand is the best of both worlds. It is a solution in which a corporation will stock your paper documents for you off-site but inspect them and mail you a digital copy upon invitation.

This creates a good choice for industries that want to store a massive amount of documents off-site but may occasionally require access to them. Nonetheless, scanning on demand is more costly than normal paper storage as you are spending for an additional service.

Physical vs Electronic archiving

Retaining a physical document archive needs both money and time and takes up useful physical space, either in your job or at a 3rd party storage assistance. (It amounts to $20 to file per paper document.)

While archiving documents electronically is both cost and time-efficient and takes up nearly no physical space.

You can gain several benefits from restoring physical documents for storage in an electronic document archive. These comprise:

  • The archive is stored electronically, so it takes no physical space (no more filing closets and bankers’ boxes!)
  • Facilitates quick keyword searching for particular documents
  • Curtails storage and executive costs
  • Effortlessly secured against unauthorized entry

Digital Storage 

Physical Storage 


Extremely secure. Can be provided with role-based access & login logs

Vulnerable to breaking in. Security equipment is required to guard documents. 

Storage Space

Only cloud storage or on-premise hard disk storage is required

Large storage space is required as compared to digital storage.




Searching Efforts 

Keyword search makes it easy to search

Difficult to sort through documents

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How does electronic document archiving work?

Document archiving is not a one-time activity but once you set a proper business process, you can automate it. Let’s see how to document archiving works.

How does electronic document archiving work?
How does electronic document archiving work? 

Step 1: Initial assessment

Understand your current document processes. How do you handle essential and non-essential documents? Do you have a set process? Are all the documents handled at one time or is the process ad-hoc?

Take a look into

  • How documents are generated, recorded, categorized, and named?
  • What is the procedure for the digitization of documents?
  • What are the requirements to delete or discard a document?
  • Who handles document exceptions?
  • Which documents are required for an audit?

You should also understand the number of documents you’ll handle to get an idea.

Based on this initial assessment, you work on drafting flows for the processes.

Step 2: Identify goals and roles

After you understand the processes, try to map out the reasons for document archiving.

  • Do you want to reduce the operational costs of dealing with documents?
  • Are you doing this to adhere to data security guidelines?
  • Are you trying to optimize your record management?
  • Is the executive team doing this to improve visibility into the resources?

Based on the goals, you can prioritize them and alter document archiving processes. Understand the roles of stakeholders in the process.

  • Who will oversee the document archiving process?
  • What authorization levels will you use to limit entry to archived data?
  • How will you ensure employee compliance?

Step 3: Implement a retention schedule

Now, it’s time to set a retention schedule. Basically, understand the documents that need to be retained and the ones that don’t.

You must maintain original annual financial reports as they might be required down the road. Research the federal, local, state, and industry-specific rules you need to follow.

Eg  Keep all IRS and tax-related documents for at least seven years.

Next, demolish all documents that do not require to be archived or never will be stored permanently at all, such as vendor catalogs, junk mail, and duplicate copies. You can digitize them by scanning them and extracting information using OCR software.

Employ a NAID (National Association of Information Destruction) vendor for the secure transport, subsequent disposal, and destruction of materials to avoid any potential liability.

Step 4: Digitize paper files

Digitize paper files to reduce costs, save space and improve document organization.

You can use OCR software along with a document scanner to sort, organize, label, and index files for enhanced searchability.

Step 5: Choose a storage

In case you’re going for digital storage, you need to select from a: tape, disk, and cloud storage. Each has its benefits and disadvantages that are associated with long-term security, integrity, and ease of entry by document management software.

Step 6: Automate with document workflows

Once all the processes and all variables are mapped out, it’s time to roll out the process.

One benefit of using document management software like Nanonets is being able to automate all the processes and set up notifications to stakeholders so you don’t miss out on error files. See steps to create document archiving flow.

Step 7: Monitor & optimize

No process is perfect at first. After implementing the document workflows, take feedback from the stakeholders on how the process can be improved.

Which companies would benefit from document archiving?  

Your company needs to focus on document archiving if:

  • Your company deals with a lot of paperwork regularly
  • You might require access to old documents in the future
  • Audits are common for companies similar to you
  • You need to store documents as a part of compliance and regulatory requirements

If these factors are relevant to your company, you might need to archive your documents.

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Why opt for electronic document archiving?

Reduce Costs and Save Space

Whether you are operating an extensive international corporation or a fledgling startup, it is significant to save expenses where one can. Digital document archiving can enable this by freeing up area and lessening operational expenses.

The limited documents you have on-site to regulate, the less money and time has to be spent on managing them.

Enhance Workflow and Performance

Adequate digital document archiving can enhance your business performance and workflow. As per the estimates, as much as 80% of production data does not need to be readily available.

By archiving this data, you can facilitate access to the rest of your data plus potentially enhance your performance.

Start document archiving with Nanonets. Trusted by 30,000+ users from 500+ enterprises to automate 30 Million+ documents! Rated 4.9 on G2. Give it a try! Start your free trial or schedule a call with us.

Document Archiving use cases

Document archiving is useful for almost all kinds of businesses. Let’s take a look at some real-life applications of document archiving in different industries.  

Business documents such as contracts, letters, and project documentation can collect over the years, occurring in huge quantities that drive up storage expenses. When workers need to retrieve data from these references, manually searching through huge document stores can carry hours out of their day.

  • Financial Services companies need to ensure all their documents are ready for audit. This is where document archiving helps them maintain all the logs of customers, money exchange receipts, and other legal documents when required. Read more about financial automation.
  • Retail firms might need to save all their customer, vendor, and supplier information in case of any discrepancies in the future. Read more about retail automation.
  • Law firms & legal departments need to store all case-related contracts, documents, and faxes as PDFs. They need to rapidly find documents and quotations using intelligent search and tags. That’s where document archiving comes in handy.
  • Public services deal with a lot of information day in and day out. Not everything is relevant now, but they must store all the information which needs to be readily available at a later date by the click of a button.
  • Enterprises can optimize their document management with efficient document archiving. By converting their paper documents into a searchable library, employees can reduce time spent searching for documents & digitization can improve data visibility too.

Automate document archiving with Nanonets. Extract data from invoices, identity cards, or any document on autopilot! Start your free trial now!

Document Archiving with Nanonets

Nanonets is an intelligent document management software with in-built OCR software that can help you convert all your paper documents into a digital searchable format. Nanonets is easy to use with a no-code drag-and-drop workflow builder that can automate any manual document process.

Here’s how you can use Nanonets to archive your documents:

Map all your process and stakeholders in your process

Create an account on Nanonets and select a custom OCR model to create an OCR model for your needs or you can select from the pre-trained OCR models too.

Upload the documents and train the model to extract the data in the format that you want.

Once, you’re happy with the model, you can set up auto-forwarding of all documents to a specific email. Go to Workflow > Import > Receive files via Email

After the document ingestion is set up, your OCR model will automatically receive scanned documents and extract the text from the documents in the format of your choice.

You can extract the data into the database of your choice by choosing an export option from the workflow.

You can add an approval section by adding approval stages, review types, rules to flag files, and more.

You can also add rules to enhance data, rename files, categorize and sort documents, and more. Need help? Our team is here to help you set it all up!

Head over to Nanonets and try doing it yourself now. Or ask our team to do it for you!

Nanonets is used by 30,000+ happy professionals to automate their document processes every year. Here’s a snapshot of Nanonets’ performance

Nanonets performance for customers
Nanonets performance for customers

Here’s what our customers say about us.

Nanonets customers reviews
Nanonets customers reviews

If you have a complex document archiving process, our talented team can help you simplify and automate the entire process, so that it is efficient and works according to your requirements. Want to share your requirements with us? Set up a call or send us an email.

Want to automate document data extraction? Check out Nanonets. No code. No hassle platform. Start your free trial and extract data from documents on autopilot.

Document Archiving vs File Backup

Document archiving is basically taking a file backup, right? Well, it is a little different.

The document archiving process is for passive documents only, whereas backups are constructed for active files utilized in day-to-day systems.

The objective of a document archive is to retain the original documents in case they are required for several reasons in the future whereas the goal of a file backup is to retain a copy of active files in case the actual files are damaged or lost, ensuring operational continuity.

Let’s look at more differences between document archiving and file backup.

Document Archive

Document Backup


Long-term storage of documents that are not used right now

Saving a copy of recent data in case of data loss or corruption


As required - eg. Audit 

When current data is corrupted or fails to load


Saved as a copy. Data is not overwritten 

Data is overwritten 

Type of Data Stored

Original Data - eg. Financial reports 

Duplicate of current data as a copy


Speed of restoration is not an issue

Should be real-time 


Long-term storage 

Short to mid-term storage 


Why digitize documents?

Productive document management: Indexed, digitized documents can be exported to a system and automatically stocked in digital libraries, where their usage can be documented, tracked, and managed.

Simple re-use of text: When a printed subject is restored into editable text, it can be amended and re-used in Microsoft Excel or Word, saving time generally spent re-creating and re-typing documents.

Searchability: Documents, including keywords in the metadata or text, can be detected by electronic search networks and indicated within seconds.

Simple access: Digital documents can be retrieved from the main repository at any time and rapidly distributed via email, eliminating the need to make printed copies.

What is document archiving software?

Document archiving software converts documents into digital records that can be archived, easily accessed, and efficiently managed, helping your institution save on storage expenses, enhance employee productivity, and speed up business procedures.

Adequate for long-term archiving, the converted lists are small with elevated visual quality. They can be read on various appliances, easily accessed from isolated locations, and centrally archived in electronic archives, digital libraries, or document management networks. Any corporation can speed up internal procedures and boost efficiency by delivering easy access to digitally stored copies with defined entry rights.

Use Nanonets to automate the document archiving process & organize your files on autopilot!

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