Quick GDPR checklist for the big day

And so it begins. The mad rush for companies to ensure their compliance with the GDPR before it comes into full force on the 25th of May. Indeed, the rush is so mad that the term ‘GDPR’ is currently being Googled even more than Beyoncé. While these may be troubling times for certain pop stars, we hope that those who are frantically-Googling have covered most of their bases by now. If you haven’t, well, get ready to tap into that “doing all of your school homework on the last day of your summer holidays” mindset (a great start would be reading our previous blog post about what the GDPR is and how it works)! But for most companies, today will simply involve running some checks and making sure that everything has been put in place and is ready to go. As such, we have put together a quick checklist for you to run through before GDPR is officially implemented. Try not to panic too much!

  • Have you formulated and documented a full account of what personal data is held by your company, where the information came from, and who it is shared with (if anyone)?
  • Does the way your company processes data take into account and respect all the individual rights help by your customers, as outlined in the GDPR?
  • Do you have the necessary provisions in place for deleting personal data or providing it in a clear and accessible format should a customer request as such?
  • Have you determined whether or not the methods used by your company to obtain, process, store and retain personal data is in accordance with the GDPR?
  • Is your company’s data retention policy (i.e. the amount of time your company stores personal data) up to GDPR standard and are your customers aware of this?
  • Do you have an updated privacy policy in place, and does it include all details about how your company collects, uses and protects customer information, the choices that your customers have with regards to their own data, as well as their rights and controls?
  • Have your customers been made aware of any changes to the way your company is collecting, organising, storing or altering their personal data?
  • Furthermore, are the most important employees in your company aware of the new regulation and any new responsibilities they may have as a result?
  • Is the way in which your company records and manages consent in line with the GDPR, with customers being told what their consent entails and informed about their right to withdraw content before opting in?
  • Does your company require a data privacy impact assessments (DPIA) and, if so, have you figured out how you would go about conducting one?
  • Likewise, does your company need a data protection officer and, if so, how will you go about recruiting and managing them once they are a part of the company?
  • Is your company equipped and prepared to handle data breaches in a timely manner and with procedures that meet the new reporting obligations outlined in the GDPR?

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At Flexible Storage, we are fully compliant with the GDPR and will be happy to take this load off your shoulders. When you outsource document storage to a company that has knowledge and experience with data protection, you can focus on the growth and success of your business rather than matters of compliance. Get in touch with one of our professional storage consultants for a quote!

Common reasons for using self storage

Self storage facilities serve a number of purposes for people in various different circumstances. For the most part, they are a great solution when you do not have enough space in your home or your office. At Flexible Storage, we provide high-security and purpose-built storage facilities, offering document vaults and self storage units for clients in London and the Home Counties. There is always a viable answer to your storage issues, whatever your circumstances may be.

In what follows, we’ll be outlining some of the most common reasons that people come to us in need of extra storage. Indeed, you may be one of the people who needs to make use of our trusted services for one of these reasons – in which case you know who to call.

Relocating important items

Most homes contain at least some possessions which are not needed on hand at all times. Those which serve no immediate purpose, but should nonetheless be kept in our possession. Such items can be anything from cherished family heirlooms to collectibles set to grow in value. As you read this, there will likely be a few items of this kind that spring to mind straight away – items that you would be hesitant to throw away or sell off. It often makes a lot more sense (financially and emotionally) to keep a hold of such items until they serve a more direct purpose.

In a business context, some companies have items of a similar kind lying around in their offices: documents that are not needed urgently, take up a lot of office space, but cannot be destroyed (because they need to be kept for legal reasons or because they might be needed in future). Given the high cost of office space, it can be cost effective to place these papers in self storage, as opposed to paying high rents on additional storage space in a regular traditional office space. For more on the financial benefits of outsourcing the document storage needs of your company, read our previous blog post on the subject.

Freeing up space

Contrary to the above point, not all of the items appropriate for self storage need to go unused. Many people choose to place items into storage simply because they do not have enough room in their own homes to keep them lying around. Say you like to go mountain biking in the summer, but your flat does not have the space necessary to store your bike for the rest of the year – dilemmas like these are common among those with smaller homes in densely populated cities.

And bikes are just one example: it could be seasonal decor, musical instruments, art supplies, or any other item that you find incompatible with the spatial requirements of modern city living. You still use them, but not often enough to have them always taking up space in your home. When you do find yourself needing to use these kind of items, you know exactly where they are: in the safety of an accessible self storage unit just waiting to be revived!

Changing circumstances

There are many circumstances in which you may find yourself without a permanent home, leaving all your possessions in limbo whilst you figure out the next steps to take. For instance, the transition between properties in the process of moving house is not always a seamless one. In some cases, people secure a sale on their old house before successfully buying a new one, and in others, people empty their home of all personal possessions to make it more marketable.

In any case, self storage would be a welcoming home for all your items (albeit a temporary one)! There are other changing circumstances to consider where you may need to use self storage. When your kids eventually fly the nest, they will probably leave a range of items in their wake, many of which will have a certain sentimental value but are not convenient to keep lying around. Since your grown-up kids are unlikely to be keen on the idea of reclaiming their childhood toys, it could be worth placing such items in self storage instead of chucking them or flogging them. After all, what was once a family bedroom can be converted into a spare room or a home office.

Unforeseen circumstances

Self storage is often the most convenient solution in situations that often cannot be predicted. One of your friends looking for a temporary place to stay while they look for a job in the area? Best make room for their arrival and clear out the spare room, sharpish! Newborn on the way? Time to remove all those dangerous furnishings and clear up enough space to build a nursery! Eventually, once your friend has found a new job or your tot has grown out of their nursery, those items you moved swiftly into storage can just as quickly be returned to your home.

Some find themselves having to relocate their possessions for more unfortunate reasons, including divorce, repossession, or damages to their property. Having had no time to prepare, sudden circumstances like these might require you to seek temporary storage for all your items, at least while you figure things out. Hopefully, you will never need self storage for such reasons, but it’s sensible to have the number of your nearest storage facility to hand just in case.

Offering various self storage packages (including both business and student), our priority is to meet your long and short term needs while keeping all your possessions as safe and secure as possible in our local storage facilities. Feel free to get in touch to discuss your requirements with one of our friendly storage consultants.

Is cloud storage safe for your company?

In the past, people didn’t always trust their banks. They wondered why anyone would be foolhardy enough to place their hard earned valuables in the hands of someone else – instead, they chose to stuff them in the mattress, hide them in a safe, or just invest cash straight away. Nowadays we don’t have bandits roaming the streets, and the idea that our homes are safer than the banks is almost laughable.

However, when it comes to data, companies are often carry this old-fashioned mindset, choosing to store data on personal servers rather than entrust it to the cloud. Are they right? Is it safer than other options? And finally, what can you do to maximise your security?

How secure is the cloud?

The term “the cloud” is a little misleading, hinting at an intrinsically fluffy nature. However, the security of cloud based systems is generally regarded by IT experts to be safer for businesses than legacy systems. Not only is the data more physically secure, sitting within remote, guarded data centres, it’s also highly encrypted, making it impossible to comprehend without an encryption key.

A huge benefit of cloud storage is that at least three copies of your data will be kept on at least three different servers. This built-in redundancy means that all the servers would have to fail simultaneously for the data to disappear, the odds of which make a lottery win look pretty likely in comparison. Even if this were to happen, the data can be normally be recovered in a couple of days.

Who owns the key?

The cloud should really be called “some clouds” or, more accurately, “a disparate collection of independent remote servers of varying security”, to reflect the fact that there are a number of companies able to store your data. Unfortunately, neither of these terms are quite as catchy and so the myth prevails that one rule applies to all systems. In reality, the owner of the encryption key will vary depending on the provider. Most companies will keep the key themselves, allowing their systems to access their data for indexing. This means that you’re able to search through your documents whilst using their servers, as well as access them with the simple provision of a password.

For those who wish to trade convenience for an additional layer of security, certain companies will hand ownership of the encryption key directly to the user. As part of this trade-off, users are required to upload and download files through service-specific client applications, many of which contain encryption functions.

It should be noted that neither system is truly impenetrable, keeping your keys at someone else’s house always carries the risk that they can be taken without the owner noticing. Likewise, if you lose the keys (or your password) while they’re with you, all your data will be rendered irretrievable.

How best to protect yourself

When it comes to protecting your personal data, a good approach is to use your own encryption software to safeguard your files before uploading them to a service that keeps ownership of encryption keys. This way you get the best of both worlds, combining convenient access with peace of mind. If you truly want to maximise your security, consider using authenticated encryption – this requires some technical knowledge but allows you to see whether any modifications have been made in the metadata of the file.

Bear in mind that sharing and collaborative services will be rendered unusable by additional encryption. It’s up to you to decide whether the risk is worth the reward. Just bear in mind that the majority of businesses rely on the cloud providers to provide security – the vast majority encountering no issues.

What other options are available?

Keeping physical backups seems to go against the whole principle of the cloud. After all, isn’t the cloud essentially one huge backup? However, think of the cloud more as a means of reaching your digital files no matter where you are. An addition to, rather than a substitution for existing storage solutions. What the cloud can’t do, however, is house your existing physical documents. Fortunately for you, Flexible Storage offers all the benefits of cloud based storage, just from the confines of high security, CCTV-monitored, security grade, hardened steel vaults. When needed, documents can be retrieved by vetted professionals, scanned and securely sent, regardless of location.

At the end of the day, how you store your data is entirely up to you. The cloud is becoming larger and more popular with every passing day, and can be a valuable tool businesses of any size. However, it’s always worth keeping your own copies files safe and sound, just in case the worse comes to worst. Failing that, you could just stuff them in the mattress…

With various packages on offer alongside data management, scanning, and shredding services, our priority is to meet the long and short term needs of your company while keeping all your documents as safe and secure as possible. Feel free to get in touch to make an appointment and discuss your requirements with one of our friendly storage consultants.