How to Choose a Filing Cabinet
If you find yourself constantly surrounded by a sea of paperwork at your desk, a filing cabinet may be just the tool to get you back afloat. Deciding to get a filing cabinet is one thing, but choosing one is another. With the number of options available, it can be tough to know which is right for you and your office. Consider these common filing cabinet types before you begin your shopping journey so that you can narrow the playing field.
Lateral Filing Cabinets
Lateral filing cabinets are designed for high-volume work environments since they can hold a large amount of paperwork at once. These units include multiple drawers, and many are equipped with an anti-tip mechanism that prevents them from falling over when a drawer is fully opened. Because lateral filing cabinets are wider than they are deep, filing is typically done from side to side. Most can accommodate both letter- and legal-size hanging folders. As lateral filing cabinets are so large, measure the space where you intend to put your new cabinet before you buy.
Vertical Filing Cabinets
Vertical filing cabinets are common in home offices and workspaces with little floor space to spare. These units can have the same number of drawers as a lateral file, but each drawer is narrower. File folders are typically sorted in a front-to-back formation, and the drawers are typically deeper than those found on lateral cabinets, so be aware that you will need to have enough clearance space to fully extend them.
Mobile Filing Cabinets
Mobile filing cabinets are convenient since they can be rolled around wherever needed. These units typically come equipped with 2 or 3 drawers and are most commonly vertical. Most mobile filing cabinets are designed to fit neatly under standard-height desks to provide convenient storage without occupying much room. The majority of mobile filing cabinets can accommodate both letter- and legal-size paperwork, but, due to their compact size, some only hold letter files. Be sure to check the description of the cabinet you’re considering to make sure it can hold legal files, should you need it.
Open-Shelf Filing Cabinets
Open-shelf filing cabinets are wide and shallow, resembling bookcases more than filing cabinets. These units feature open fronts that are suitable for filing end-tab folders side-by-side. Designed for use in narrow aisles and areas with limited space, these arrangements are great for highly accessed files such as those used in medical facilities.
Flat Filing Cabinets
Flat filing cabinets are a series of flat, shallow drawers designed to keep large, flat items, such as blueprints or maps, neatly organized and protected. Most flat filing cabinets can be stacked on top of one another to maximize office space.
Fireproof Filing Cabinets
If you work with sensitive documents, keeping them in a fireproof filing cabinet will be worth your investment. Fireproof filing cabinets prevent damage caused by an open flame, but they’re also water and theft-resistant, ensuring ultimate safety for your most important documents. Fireproof filing cabinets come in vertical and lateral varieties, so you can find the one that best suits your office space and the amount of paperwork you have. Fireproof filing cabinets are commonly used in large corporations where assets need to be protected. Still, they can be useful for anyone, including home office employees who want to keep their Social Security card, birth certificate, and other important documentation safely stored away.
Locking capabilities: Not all filing cabinets lock. Be sure to read carefully to determine whether or not your file of choice is lockable.
Counterweights: Counterweights help prevent filing cabinets from tipping, which could be an important feature if you tend to pack your files as full as they can get.
Follower blocks: Follower blocks are metal drawer dividers often used in filing cabinets before hanging files became commonplace. Some units still use these, so be sure to determine whether or not you want this type of filing technique.
Hanging bars: Hanging bars are what keep your file folders hanging. If you want to file your documents in a front-to-back fashion in your lateral filing cabinet, purchase additional handing bars for this purpose.