Your Virtual Office: Documents

You’re a virtual business now and find paper in all forms a nuisance. But you still have documents to store: bills, contracts, bank statements, and a pile of unexciting records your business must retain. In addition to static documents, your business also has ‘working’ documents – editable files with routine changes or updates.

If you are a twenty-first-century business, online document storage may not be new to you. If you’re evaluating your existing storage or setting up a brand new system, below are some questions to ask.

Ease of access & use

This is often the first set of questions to ask when evaluating online storage. Clunky, difficult-to-learn interfaces can cost the time and mental energy of those accessing and storing documents.

  • How will employees or contractors access the information? On a phone, computer, tablet?
  • Does the system require a separate login or account to have full access?
  • For documents that are editable or have frequent changes, how will the person work in these documents?
  • How much effort is required to become proficient with the interface?

Integration with other apps

Similar to ease of access, an online storage platform that integrates with existing business software or services can create shortcuts for editing or saving into the system.

  • What software platforms do you already use for your business? Microsoft suite, Google suite, iCloud?
  • Does your existing email, chat, or virtual mailbox integrate with an online storage platform?


Most businesses have some level of security needs for their documents. It may be a general ‘we don’t want anyone outside the company to view these documents.’ Or your business may need more options for creating various layers of access for different job descriptions. Note that questions of increased security sometimes interfere with ease-of-use desires.

  • Does your business have documents with sensitive information?
  • Does your business have industry-specific online document security requirements?
  • Do security requirements trump ease of access or integration considerations?
  • What levels of authorization do you need to limit the access of unauthorized users?
  • Does your business need an audit trail that provides data on when and who accesses/changes documents?

Storage costs

This consideration could be the lowest on the list, given the generally reasonable rates for large amounts of storage space offered by online storage providers. However, if your company has large amounts of data or requires specific security protocols, this can increase costs.

  • How much data will you be storing?
  • How often can you purge old documents?
  • How do storage costs fit into the budget?

It’s hard to provide a specific recommendation. Situations can vary from business to business, making a one-size-fits-all suggestion impossible. But I hope the questions above have helped you to narrow down your ‘must-haves’ when evaluating online storage solutions.

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