Document Storage or Document Management: Know the Difference

Not all document management systems are created equal. Firms that are looking for ways to improve their document  management processes usually need more than just digital storage. A full-featured document management system will offer many additional features that help firms truly benefit from paperless workflows. So how can you tell if a system offers document storage or document management? The infographic below outlines 5 major differences.

Document Storage or Document Management

File format

A document management system stores files in their native formats so you can work on them as needed. On the other hand, document storage systems don’t typically allow you to edit documents. Instead, they store files as static PDFs or in proprietary formats instead.

Version Control

Many firms use document storage systems to archive final documents. But this type of system usually doesn’t maintain multiple versions or preserve file history. Version control features in a document management system help protect firms by creating audit trails and allowing you to recover older versions.


Document management systems are excellent collaboration tools, with check-in/checkout of files and useful notes that enable teams to work together more efficiently. In contrast, document storage systems typically don’t enable collaboration. Consequently, team members have no way of knowing if others are working on the same file.

File Retention

Document storage systems can leave firms open to discovery and litigation risks because they store documents indefinitely. Unfortunately, keeping files too long can be just as bad as not keeping them long enough. A document management system should include retention settings that help firms manage and enforce retention policies.


Because they are designed to enhance collaboration, document management systems should allow access to appropriate staff via mobile devices and in client or remote offices. Since document storage systems store static files, you can’t work on the documents remotely. In fact, you may not be able to access them at all.

To learn more about document management systems, download our whitepaper, Document Management: A Tax Season Planning Guide.


Aimee Hall

Product Marketing Manager at Wolters Kluwer Tax & Accounting

All stories by: Aimee Hall