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A Practical Guide to Archive Storage and Shelving

23 Feb, 2024
Store all your important documents, files & records smartly, safely and securely. Find files easily and get organised.

Managing space effectively is crucial in any office, business, or warehouse. And when it comes to storing all those important documents, files, and records, it’s not just about stashing them away. It’s about doing it smartly. That’s where this guide comes in. We’re here to walk you through the nuts and bolts of archive storage and shelving solutions – the kind that makes finding that important file easy, keeps your valuable records safe, and helps you use every inch of your space wisely. With Total Racking Systems at your side, we’ll show you how simple changes in your storage approach can lead to big improvements in how your space feels and functions. Whether you’re looking to declutter, safeguard critical documents, or get a bit more organised, let’s dive into how to improve your space.

What is archive storage?

Archive storage refers to the methods and systems used to preserve, organise and store various archival materials, such as documents, records, photographs and digital files, for long-term retention and easy retrieval.

Preservation of Materials:

The primary purpose of archive storage is to preserve materials from damage or deterioration over time. This involves protecting them from environmental factors like humidity, temperature fluctuations, light exposure, and physical damage.

Organised and Systematic Storage:

Archive storage systems are designed to organise materials to make them easily accessible and retrievable. This might include categorizing, labelling, and indexing the materials for efficient management.

Security and Protection:

Security measures are crucial in archive storage to protect sensitive or valuable materials from theft, loss, or unauthorised access. This could include physical security measures and digital safeguards for electronic records.

Specialised Storage Solutions:

Archive storage can involve specialised solutions depending on the type of material being stored. For physical documents and books, this could mean acid-free boxes, climate-controlled rooms, or shelving systems designed to support weight without causing damage. For digital archives, it might involve secure servers, backups, and data management systems.

Long-Term Accessibility:

A key feature of archive storage is ensuring that materials remain accessible over the long term, even as technologies or organisational systems change.

Compliance with Standards and Regulations:

For many organisations, particularly those in the public sector or certain industries, archive storage must comply with specific legal standards and regulations regarding record-keeping and data retention.

Where is archive shelving used?

Archive shelving is a critical component in the organizational infrastructure of many offices, businesses, and institutions, especially those dealing with substantial amounts of paperwork and important files.

Offices and Businesses:

In the corporate world, archive shelving offers a structured solution to manage an often overwhelming volume of paperwork from legal documents to financial records.

Libraries and Educational Institutions:

Libraries, universities, and other educational institutions rely on archive shelving to manage their extensive collections of books, journals, and research papers.

Government Institutions:

Government agencies use archive shelving to store sensitive and critical documents, complying with regulatory standards for record-keeping and confidentiality.

Museums and Cultural Centers:

For museums and cultural centres, archive shelving is indispensable for preserving historical documents, artworks and artifacts.

Small to Medium-Sized Operations:

In smaller operations, archive shelving maximises available space, accommodating various sized materials, from standard cardboard boxes and manila folders to larger items, ensuring they are easily accessible.

Design and Structure of Archive Shelving:

Archive shelving systems are typically modular and made from durable materials like galvanized or painted steel. They consist of multiple shelves, with brackets adjustable in 25 mm increments, suitable for heavy-duty storage.

Choosing the Right Shelving System:

Selecting the appropriate archive shelving system is essential. It involves considering the organisation’s needs, stored materials, and available space.

benefits of archive shelving?

Archive shelving is designed for heavy-duty storage of documents, increasing storage capacity and efficient paperwork organisation. Archive shelving can be static or mobile and customised to fit the available space and specific storage needs. The shelving typically features multiple levels that are adjustable to accommodate different sizes of materials, and it can be fitted with dividers, drawers, and other accessories to enhance organisation and accessibility further.


Total Racking Systems’s archive shelving is designed for durability, withstanding high-weight demands.

Maximises space

Using unused vertical space is efficient and helps maximise spaces that would otherwise be wasted.


Incorporating various security measures, Total Racking Systems’s archive shelving systems are tailored for different industry demands.

Easy to Access, Easy to Handle

There’s no point in storing something if you can’t get to it easily and safely. Total Racking Systems designs its storage solutions so that you can access and handle your documents without any risk of damaging them.

Special Considerations for Archive Storage

Factors like environmental control, protection from fire and smoke, water damage prevention, light exposure, emissions and security are crucial when storing archives.

Damp, mould, insects, unsuitable packaging, and frequent or careless handling cause the most damage. All materials, especially low-grade papers and photographs, are vulnerable to light damage, particularly ultraviolet light.

Here is a rundown of special considerations for your archive and records storage facility.


Temperature and humidity changes can lead to chemical changes and the eventual degradation of your material. Your facility should have a climate system to control the environment. In addition, ventilation ducts and filters are a must for keeping dust and mould at a minimum. For the safe storage of infrequently handled archives, a constant temperature within the range of 16 – 19º C with a tolerance of 1ºC on either side and relative humidity (RH) between 45-60% with a tolerance of 5% on either side is recommended. RH is a measure of how damp or dry the air is.

Fire and smoke

In addition to sensitive smoke alarm systems, your facility should have fire-resistant doors and windows. It’s also good to consider fire-resistant construction features like fire-resistant floors, walls, and ceilings.


Archival shelving should be situated away from windows, exterior walls and plumbing to prevent water damage. The lowest shelf should be placed a minimum of 6″ above the floor level.


Delicate documents can be damaged from exposure to both sunlight and fluorescent light. LED lighting can be a safer alternative to protect documents from light exposure.


Plastic and wood can release chemicals that can lead to the eventual damage of records. Wood can also encourage the growth of mould and mildew. You can protect your materials by storing them in acid-free boxes on metal shelves. Also, open shelving systems allow for proper air circulation.


Another factor to consider with archival storage is security and accessibility by incorporating theft prevention measures like electronic security systems.

Archive Shelving Solutions by total racking systems

Total Racking Systems offers a variety of shelving options tailored for different archival needs, from the versatile RUT shelving system to space-efficient mobile compacting storage:

RUT Shelving System:

Versatile and budget-friendly, perfect for storing documents directly on shelves or in filing boxes, suitable for small to medium-sized operations.

Mobile Compacting Storage:

Offers high-density storage and is particularly suited where records are accessed less frequently, like old records. It’s space-efficient and great for medium-sized setups. These mobile compact systems save space and keep everything within reach when needed. They usually have RUT shelving with coated steel shelves. However, the same principles of compacting bays can be utilised with other shelving systems, such as long-span shelving, wire shelving and even pallet racking.

Longspan Shelving:

A smart choice for medium-sized collections, adjustable for different-sized items, balancing affordability and capacity. This shelving can handle standard boxes and folders.

Wire Shelving and Mesh Decks:

Wire mesh shelves offer a number of benefits, including better light and air circulation and less dust accumulation, whilst complying with fire safety standards. Ideal for sensitive archives.

Pallet Racking System:

Ideal for bulkier archives, offering solid support and plenty of room.

Storage Containers:

Essential for keeping documents safe, with options like acid-free boxes and stackable plastic bins.

Speak With An Expert

There are many factors to consider when storing archives or records, and switching to a new system can be more than a little overwhelming. We understand that setting up a new storage system will take time and money.

However, it’s crucial to consider what you may lose by not storing your materials according to efficient and safe modern standards. Are you willing to take that risk?

At Total Racking Systems, our storage experts will work with you to design a system that meets your unique needs and fits your budget. Depending on the shelving type you choose, the ceiling height, or the floor weight capacity—we can help you maximise your storage potential! Contact us Today

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