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Looking for Secure Vault Storage? Advantage DS3 is Eastern Iowa’s Fire Lock Vault

Choosing a reliable and trustworthy records management company is essential for ensuring the secure storage of your most critical records, films, and computer media. You must perform adequate due diligence to ensure the vendor you select is both qualified and capable of meeting your organization’s needs. When selecting a records center for secure vault storage, there are several important factors to consider. Here are some key things to look for:

  • Compliance with Standards: Check if the records center complies with relevant industry standards and certifications, particularly in relation to the testing and certification of their vault. At a minimum, the records center should be able to provide documentation that the vault has a Class 350 four-hour rating for protecting paper documents, a Class 150 four-hour rating for microfilm, computer equipment and historic artifacts, and a Class 125 four-hour rating for computer media, digital records and sensitive server equipment. In addition, look for certifications like NAID AAA for information destruction, or alignment with standards for storage by governing bodies like NARA, or ANSI/AIIM, or ISO certifications for quality management and information security management that demonstrate their commitment to best practices in all areas of managing a record’s lifecycle.
  • Vault Design and Construction: Examine the facility’s design and construction materials. The records center should be able to provide you with documentation that their vault has been fire tested and that the construction technology that is used by the architect will in fact perform in any type of fire. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) has designed many standards on how to protect the vault, the records center, and the building in general. A proper fireproof vault will have a stand-alone technology that causes the vault door to automatically close at the first detection of smoke or heat around the vault and seal the fire dampers and cable trays automatically. The vaulting solutions that provide the most protestation from fire is constructed with rigorously tested materials, such as the ceramic fiber insulating core used in the Advantage Document Scanning and Storage Solutions’ vault. This ensures the vault is dry and inert even after withstanding the 5-hour 2000° F. UL 72 / ASTM E-119 Time Temperature Curve Test. The vault should not only be fireproof, but also be designed to mitigate the risk of extreme weather conditions as well. In the Midwest, it is particularly important that the vault be constructed to withstand the potential of damaging winds from an event like a derecho or tornado. The vault should be rated for 185 mph wind loads. In addition to protection from high winds, ensure that the vault has an integrated vapor barrier to prevent high moisture levels or steam from penetrating the vault so in the event of a disaster the records within the vault are never subjected to moisture or other potentially caustic chemicals. 
  • Fire and Environmental Protection: Ensure that the records center has appropriate fire suppression systems, preferably a gas-based suppression system like the waterless 3M Novec 1230 Fire Suppression System utilized in Advantage’s FireLock vault. This type of fire suppression agent is clean, will not damage the vaults contents, and leaves zero residue in the event of an activation. You should also look for features such as smoke activated hydraulic vault door closers, and specifications including a Class 125 four-hour rating for computer media, digital records, and sensitive server equipment, as well as a Class 350 four-hour rating for protecting paper documents. The facility should also have climate control systems in place to maintain optimal temperature and humidity levels, which are crucial for preserving the integrity of your records. Eliminating steam or high moisture levels is critical to protecting computer media. UL 72 testing specifications mandate that vault and safe environments must not exceed 125°F (52°C) or a relative humidity above 80% for the duration of the rating within the vault chamber. 
  • Security Measures: The primary concern when choosing a records center for secure vault storage is the level of security they provide. Look for facilities that have robust physical security measures such as access controls, surveillance systems, alarms, and 24/7 monitoring. The facility should also have measures in place to prevent unauthorized access, including strict protocols for employee background checks and restricted access to sensitive areas. Advantage Document Scanning and Storage Solutions has maintained comprehensive documentation of our policies, procedures, and practices, and would be happy to share them with you to help you establish your own evaluation criteria. The documentation outlines steps Advantage has taken to ensure all employees are insured and bonded, having completed a background check at the time of employment. It spells out specific policies like all our personnel are randomly drug tested and must assent to a confidentiality agreement as a condition of employment. It also discusses day-to-day operational procedures, like employees being required to wear an Advantage logo on their ID badge, shirt, or jacket, and all visitors at all facilities are required to sign in, issued a visitors pass, and escorted throughout the premises. The records management centers you are evaluating should have similar detailed documentation and provide it to you upon request.
  • Access Controls and Audit Trails: A reputable records center should have strict access controls and maintain detailed audit trails. Look for facilities that implement authentication mechanisms, such as biometric or card-based access, to ensure that only authorized personnel can access the vault storage area. Additionally, they should have robust tracking systems to monitor and record all activities related to document access and movement.
  • Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity: Consider the location of the records center in relation to your organization. It should be easily accessible and located in a secure area, away from potential risks such as flood zones or high-crime areas. Inquire about the records center’s disaster recovery plans and business continuity protocols. They should have strategies in place to mitigate the impact of potential disasters and ensure the continuity of services. This may involve data backup and redundancy systems, off-site data replication, and alternative storage options in case of emergencies.
  • Insurance Coverage: Inquire about the records center’s insurance coverage. They should have appropriate insurance policies to cover any potential loss, damage, or liability associated with your stored records. Verify that they, like Advantage, are insured and bonded by several agencies that perform their own audits and reviews of their facility. Request documentation that their employees are insured and bonded, and that disaster and recovery plan carries language that references their role and responsibility in the case of loss and or damage. 
  • Data Privacy and Confidentiality: Confidentiality is crucial when storing sensitive records. Evaluate the records center’s policies and procedures to protect the privacy of your information, including employee confidentiality agreements, data encryption measures, and compliance with relevant data protection regulations. Advantage Document Scanning and Storage Solutions has maintained comprehensive documentation of our policies, procedures, and practices, and would be happy to share them with you to help you establish your own evaluation criteria.
  • Document Retrieval and Service Level Agreements: Understand the records center’s policies and service level agreements regarding document retrieval. Ensure that they offer prompt and efficient retrieval services when you need access to your records. Review their processes for requesting and delivering documents, as well as any associated fees. Make note of additional steps taken to offer further protection to your records by the record management companies you are evaluating. For instance, at Advantage, we require that only authorized employees of Advantage handle pickups and deliveries, we do not allow or employ 3rd party couriers or contractors. The actual loading and unloading of vehicles for daily pickups and deliveries are performed inside of our facility. Only vehicles owned and insured by Advantage are used for picking up and delivery of our client’s records and are driven inside our facility for security as well as protection from the various elements of the weather.  Each records management company offers their own processes and procedures, so compare what is offered, and decide if they meet or exceed your organization’s needs. 
  • Scalability and Flexibility: Consider your future needs and growth potential. Ensure that the records management company can accommodate your changing requirements, whether it’s additional storage space, document digitization, or customized services. Some records centers, like Advantage’s, offer a wide range of additional document related solutions that go above and beyond the standard storage services. Look for a vendor that can manage the complete lifecycle of your document, and any foreseeable use cases related to them. This may include active file management, long term-off site storage, digital transformation, data archiving, secure document destruction, archival microfilming, or secure vault storage.
  • Contract Terms and Pricing: Review the contract terms, pricing structure, and any additional fees associated with the secure vault storage services. Ensure that the pricing is transparent, and there are no hidden costs. Understand the terms of the contract, including termination clauses and any penalties.
  • Track Record and Reputation: Research the records center’s track record and reputation in the industry. Seek references or client testimonials to get insights into their reliability, customer satisfaction, and adherence to service level agreements. Make note of the vendor’s relationships with respected businesses, organizations, and agencies that are like your own. If you are in the healthcare industry, references from the University of Iowa Health or UnityPoint might be of particular interest. A good offsite storage company should be able to provide you with a long list of recognizable names that utilize their secure vault storage services.   

By considering these factors and conducting thorough research, you can select a records center that meets your requirements for secure vault storage that aligns with your specific needs, provides reliable and secure document storage, and offers excellent customer support. We are confident that you will discover that Advantage Document Scanning and Storage Solutions is the most qualified records management center in eastern Iowa for offsite records management and storage.


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