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A Guide to Buying Office Filing Supplies

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A Guide to Buying Office Filing Supplies

An organised office can save a great deal of time and is the only efficient way to run a business or home accounting system. The types of files that accumulate in any given office are numerous and varied, so it is essential to maintain order and control over these files before they take control of the office.

Increasingly, the modern office needs a hard drive, but there is still much hard copy that needs to be stored in such a way that it can be located in a moment and out of sight again just as quickly. Along with hard drive storage solutions, filing cabinets, desk trays, and A4 lever arch file folders hold a central place.

When a customer seeks to better organise their office through an efficient filing system, their practical requirements are only a part of the problem. They should also ascertain the type of filing system that is most conducive to their natural work flow.

Physical Storage Devices

The thousands of files in an office can be organised in many ways. The particular way someone chooses to achieve this may reflect personality, personal preference, or space limitations. Sometimes, personal ideals have to give way to practical necessities, and in such circumstances many people are faced with the daily challenge of workspace organisation. Depending on business type, some businesses deal almost exclusively with electronic files, which require minimal space, whilst others deal with hard copy that demands highly organised physical storage.

The usability of an office space is essential. For high efficiency, an administrator must be able to quickly locate any file pertaining to their business. As important therefore as clear labelling is, a categorical filing system may be even more so. There is no single hard copy storing solution that suits everyone because people differ in their approach and methodology. Essential characteristics to look for in all storage devices, however, include ease of physical accessibility, high category and subcategory visibility, and a numerical layout which meets our sense of logic.

Mobile Office Shelving

This type of storage device is normally the domain of large or corporate business, medical centres that hold patient records, libraries, museums or other places with extensive archival material. This storage system is called mobile because each partition slides open; not because it can be moved about. It consists of a series of shelved library panels that are interconnected and can be separated on a pulley system either manually or with an electric motor.

The advantage of mobile shelving is that it enables a huge amount of documented material to be stored with minimal space allocation, and allows an administrator to keep all documents in one location. Although some units are quite large, smaller models are available for the average office.

Office Shelving

The benefit of this system is that all stored material is placed in open view. Office shelves, or bookcases, vary in width, height and depth, and so are highly adaptable to individual needs. This shelving system enables an administrator to keep all files in document holders, such as magazine files, or lever arch files, or both for easy visual identification without the need to open drawers.

Both magazine files and lever arch files have labelling facilities to allow an administrator to organise all data logically and alphabetically. An obvious drawback of this system is that it cannot be locked and is thereby accessible to everyone; however, it may be permissible in offices with restricted access.

Filing Cabinets

A filing cabinet is a traditional way of storing important files in a highly organised and secure way with lockable drawers. The filing cabinet involves two or more sliding drawers that contain metal rungs on which many hanging folders called suspension files attach.

Each drawer of the filing cabinet is categorised, and each file folder within a drawer is subcategorised or numbered with a tab system, usually in alphabetical order to assist in locating specific files. The general efficiency of this system ensures it is still popular with both small and large business, and it is commonly also used for domestic purposes. eBay lists a broad range of these cabinets to suit a variety of needs, with both lateral and vertical standing cabinets available.

Expandable Files

Expandable files are useful for both domestic and professional use, although their limited capacity means their professional application is rather more an accessory than a complete filing system. The device opens to reveal paper or plastic divisions that are used to separate and organise documents alphabetically or categorically. They can be carried as a briefcase and are ideal for travelling agents or sales representatives.

Ring Binder Files

Ring binder files are spring loaded retaining folders for loose paper documents. Files can be stored by either having holes punched in them and slid through open rings, or slid into pre-punched plastic sleeves. There are many variations to these folder binders; some versions having long been used as much for study purposes as for office file storage. eBay has a broad selection of binder files with varying capacities to suit a variety of business requirements. Again, these binder files are perfect for mobile work.

Magazine Files

Magazine files represent popular, simple and convenient ways to store a variety of files for a wide range of purposes. In business, they are typically used chronologically and alphabetically in office shelving, or as readily accessible documents on a desk top. This storage device is comprised of an L-shaped container that can be made from a host of different materials. Most do not contain separators, but a tabbing system could be used for keeping order.

Letter Filing Desk Trays

Letter filing desk trays are a desktop method of data storage, normally in the form of correspondence that requires immediate or short-term response or despatch. They are typically three level storage devices that are made from plastic but sometimes other materials. The shape and design of these storage containers emphasises their convenience for keeping short term papers, such as accounts and invoices.

Virtual Storage Devices

For many businesses, it is more practical and space efficient to convert hard copies to computer file formats compatible for specific business needs. Naturally, all virtual files need to be reliably backed up, and some, depending on their value, may need to be backed up on several different devices.

Servers

Many businesses store all their files on their server hard drives. These drives can be synced with individual computers on the network so that all data can be accessed locally. The large capacity of most server hard drives enables huge quantities of files to be stored, and the potential of further hard drives being added further increases this quota.

External Hard Drives

An external hard drive is the most logical device on which to store electronic files. Hard drives may be partitioned into subsections according to individual requirements or for security purposes, or simply organised with a folder tree system. The contents may be synced with a Mac, PC, or with mobile devices, such as a notepad, iPad, or iPhone.

Additional hard drives can be "daisy chained" to the original to add storage capacity. For extra security, it is desirable to choose a hard drive with a RAID (Redundant array of independent discs) number of between five and 10. This is so that data, in the event of disc failure, can be recovered from other parts of the drive.

Cloud Storage

Cloud storage is a popular solution to space limitations, and facilitates data storage and access from anywhere in the world. An administrator can set up either a free or paid online account with a cloud hosting company for all their file storage needs. An NAS server with a built in external hard drive can be used as a secure a backup device and access point.

In Summary

The following chart summarises some of the pros and cons of the various storage modes. All of the listed storage methods are in some ways practical and advantageous according to individual business needs.

Storage Mode

Advantages

Disadvantages

Mobile Office Shelving

Compact; large storage

Cumbersome; heavy

Office Shelving

Open display

Security risks

Filing Cabinets

Practical; efficient

Unattractive; heavy

Expandable Files

Lightweight; portable

Limited use

Ring Binder Files

Lightweight; portable

Limited storage

Letter Filing Desk Trays

Convenient; lightweight

Limited storage

Servers

Large virtual storage

Expensive

External Hard Drives

Large virtual storage

Susceptible to damage

Cloud

Worldwide data access

Potential security risks

It should be understood that not all of these storage devices serve the needs of every office. Space limitations or office design may dictate storage types as much as taste.

How to Buy Office Filing Systems on eBay

Purchasing office filing supplies on eBay is straightforward when you have a clear concept of your own office requirements. Simply conduct a keyword search of the item of your choice, such as filing cabinet, and look through each appropriate listing. Alternatively, narrow your search with the available filter options if you have a more specific type in mind.

Upon finding a few different items that appeal to you, carefully look through all details under each listing. Examine all photos displayed to ensure they appear to match the item's description. Pay attention to the conditions of sale and returns policies, as these can vary between sellers. Also check the postage and handling options, as your chosen method likely depends on the item you buy. It is also advisable to make note of your designated seller's customer feedback score and eBay seller rating. This information can be a clue as to what type of service to expect.

Conclusion

The day-to-day responsibilities of running an office can sometimes get in the way of planning the most effective mode of filing important data. It is possible to spend disproportionate amounts of time looking through a filing system in search of the elusive file or chasing a duplicate because the original appears to be lost. Misplaced files always come with a cost to efficiency and professionalism, but the right filing system for a particular office can be the ideal solution to preventing such mishaps.

eBay has a broad selection of office filing supplies that can usually be purchased far more cheaply than at retail outlets, whether online or at brick and mortar stores. Finding the exact filing solution that can provide the answer to typical office glitches may only be a matter of conducting an office assessment. Some furniture rearranging may be needed, but this is a small price to pay for a much healthier business.

 
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