There are physical and digital files in your small business that needs to be retained for a certain length of time. Some need to be kept forever, others only for a short period. Today, we are talking about how to dispose of physical and digital files for your small business that you do not need any longer.
You may be wondering why do I need to dispose of them properly. Well, there are several benefits of doing this the right way. Below are just a few.
Benefits of getting rid of these physical and digital files.
- Minimizing unnecessary storage: you don’t need to keep everything forever. This will free up space on your computers as well as physically.
- Protect customers, employees, and subcontractors from a breach of their personal information.
- It shows that your company cares about your people and the people that support you.
Remember, these files could be physical or digital. So today we will be talking about the best way to get rid of both.
How to get rid of small business physical paper files?
For physical paper files, like payroll, human resources, subcontractor documents, and business financials, the best process is to shred the record with a cross-cut sectional shredder. Below are the ones I found on Amazon.com (affiliate).
There are shredding companies that will come to you with a shredding truck to shred the documents on the premises. Below are some companies I found online.
While we have a lot of physical files, we also have several digital files that need to be appropriately destroyed. Read on to find out what to do with the unwanted digital files.
How to get rid of small business digital files?
They must be destroyed by shredding them and wiping out the hard drives of old computers, printers, copiers, and servers. All these devices may keep an image of the information. Just destroying the device may not work these days. Nor, will remove it from by deleting it from File Manager on your computer. A better way is to restore the computer to the factory settings and wiping all the content. After you do this, you can revisit the folders and places your information would be and see if everything has been removed.
Some companies also offer services that do the disposal and destroying of these files and documents. But, they may also be at risk. Choose a company that conducts background checks on its employees. They also offer risk indemnification. And, they track assets during the disposal process. They also make sure they are environmentally responsible in their disposal process.
Below is a company I found online that offers services to help you destroy your digital business files.
But how long do I need to keep my business files, you may be wondering.
How Long to Keep Business Files (digital and physical)
Below are guidelines on how long to keep business files. The length may be different than personal files.
|Business Files (Digital and Physical)||Years to Keep|
|Employees records||keep for 3 years from the termination|
|Employee earnings records||keep for at least 4 years after termination|
|Records involving unclaimed property, such as an unclaimed paycheck, check state laws||4 years after termination|
|Timecards||keep for at least 7 years|
|Employment tax records||Keep for 4 years from the date the tax was paid|
|Travel and entertainment records||Keep mileage logs, receipts, and other supporting documents for 4 years|
|Sales tax returns||Keep as long as your state law requires|
|Business property||Keep records of costs and deductions supporting documents until the asset is sold, traded, or disposed of from that date add 7 years|
Well, there you have it. I hope this gives you direction on how to get rid of physical and digital files in your small business. Please leave us a comment below on how you get rid of your digital and physical files. We would love to hear from you.
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