A Buyer’s Guide to Office Filing Cabinets

It’s interesting to see that despite changes in technology and office design, the classic filing cabinet has remained a tried and trusted staple. Things may have changed in the way that data is stored, but there will always be a need for paper documents. Filing cabinets are your best and most secure option for storing those hard copies.

A good filing cabinet will help you sort out that confusing mass of paperwork on your desk and give you a place to secure it all. You’ll be able to be more productive and efficient. Even if you’re working in a small office space, an organised system will always help you to keep it tidy and looking professional. The correct filing system will help you get organized and remain so. It will let you easily access the documents when necessary, provide security and privacy, and eliminate clutter.


Types of Filing Cabinets


Lateral Cabinets


This type of cabinet is best if you have a large volume of documents to store. They are wide, however, so they take up more space than some other designs so it’s important to measure your space before your purchase. Lateral cabinets can come with two or more drawers but aren’t as deep as other models. This makes it possible to sort through your files from a seated position and may prove more convenient in certain office situations.


Vertical Cabinets


Vertical cabinets are tall and narrow so are great for home use or for offices where floor space is limited. The drawers are narrower but deeper than those of lateral files. You’ll need enough space to fully open the drawers and reach those pesky files right at the back.


Mobile Cabinets


Thanks to their castors, these are a highly convenient option as they can be moved from place to place when necessary. They roll smoothly over most floors, including carpets. Usually in a vertical style with two or three drawers, they are available in a lateral formation too. They can also come designed to fit under a desk to save space. Just remember to check the size before purchasing.


Open Shelves


Similar to bookshelves, these cabinets come with shelves that are wider at the front, narrow towards the back and with open fronts. They are best for offices where space is at a premium as they can be placed in narrow passageways. They are also ideal in environments where files need to be accessed frequently.


Flat Filing Drawers


This type of filing system is designed for oversized, flat documents such as maps, canvases or blueprints that shouldn’t be folded or rolled. They can be placed one on top of the other to keep them flat and safe.


Fireproof Filing Cabinets


These are a worthwhile investment if you have irreplaceable documents. They come in lateral and vertical styles. TA fireproof cabinet will not only secure your documents against fire, but also protect them from water damage and theft. Smaller cabinets are great for at-home use to keep your passports, birth certificates and other vital documents safe.


Safety and Security


Vertical cabinets tend to be top heavy when the top drawers are opened fully so always opt for a cabinet with a counterbalance mechanism. This will prevent it from falling forwards.


While most filing cabinets lock, some don't. The most popular kind of lock is the sliding teeth variety, and the cam lock. Sliding teeth locks have a mechanism inside the cabinet that is operated by a key. Cam locks have a metal rod that locks the drawers and is also operated by a key.


While these are the two basic security options, there are other more sophisticated locking mechanisms available. Electronic locks utilise a code, do away with the need for keys and can also serve to check who accesses the files. Lock bars with padlocks can serve as secondary precautions for highly sensitive documents.


Cost and Quality


Filing cabinets are prone to constant, repetitive use, so make sure you pick one that is good quality. Choose a cabinet that’s going to allow for future expansion and will still look good after several years of service. When looking at your budget, remember to factor in delivery costs. Some companies offer free delivery.




Filing cabinets come in steel, wood, aluminium or plastic. While steel offers durability and the most secure locking mechanisms, they are often very heavy. They aren’t always the most attractive option, but they will undoubtedly last for many years.


Aluminium cabinets have the advantages of steel ones such as durability and locking capability, but they have the advantage of being lighter and cheaper.


Plastic filing cabinets are certainly cheaper than any other options. But they won’t last the distance and will have to be replaced within a couple of years. They are also not nearly as secure as metal cabinets.


Wooden cabinets are much more attractive than any of the other materials. They are almost as durable as metal and certainly as stable. Wood will also add a warm ambience to the office environment.


On Delivery


Because of the sheer weight of most filing cabinets, you won’t be able to have the usual online courier option but will require special freight shipping. Remember to clarify what happens once the truck delivers the cabinet to your location. Will you need to have people on hand to offload it or does the company provide that service? Also, always check for damage before signing the delivery form.


Even though an 8GB memory stick can store around twelve million pages of information, most offices still have a large number of hard copies to file. Not everyone has gone paperless, and even if your company has tried, you’ll still have suppliers who send you hardcopy invoices. Plus, older documents that were created before the digital revolution need to be stored someplace. For these reasons and many more, filing cabinets are still vital pieces of office furniture that will be around for a long time to come.

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