Space, the final frontier? Or just another commodity that we all need more of? These days it seems that space is at a premium, whether it's space to live, space to work, space to think, virtual space to store our data or space to store our ever increasing inventory of material possessions.

The world is becoming an increasingly crowded place with the majority of the population now living in burgeoning cities, and there aren't many better examples of this than good old London Town. The upshot of all this overcrowding is that many people find they don't have enough space to store all they need, whether it be domestic goods, business supplies, archives, stock, vehicles or data. Where on Earth can we store all this stuff? Read on for some answers.

Self-Storage in London

Can't move for all the clutter that's imperceptibly but inexorably taken over your home or work-place? If you're looking to free up more space at home or in the office, self-storage is the way to go.

Self-storage spaces are rented in a similar way to other property; once you sign the contract the space is yours to store whatever you wish although there are exceptions - most self-storage companies won't allow you to store flammible liquids or gases, food etc. They also don't take kindly to people storing fire-arms, so if you're looking for extra storage space for your newly-formed militia it's probably best to look elsewhere! Self-storage units come in a variety of sizes, usually measured in square feet - from a locker large enough for a few boxes or suitcases, right up to rooms measuring hundreds of square feet which can easily store the contents of a large house.

Self-storage can be a pricey business so it's worth shopping around to find the best price. Expect to pay a premium for extras such as 24 hour opening or electricity in the units. The location of the self-storage company will also affect the price - as with other property, rents in Chelsea will probably be more expensive than those in the suburbs. When shopping around check whether the rent is paid by the calender month or four-weekly; suppose two companies give the same 'monthly' quote, company A charges rent by the calender month and company B charges rent four-weekly. If you plump for company B you will end up paying 8.3% more over the year than with company A!

Some companies offer a collection service so you don't have the hassle of arranging transport to get your belongings to your storage unit. One such company is Henfield Self-Storage. Not only do they offer a collection service but, if you're storing for at least 6 months and are prepared to pay in advance, or are moving from another self-storage company, the collection is free! Their branches are located in North London and Surrey, and they are soon to open a third in South London.

Archive Storage

Remember a few years ago when everyone was looking forward to the paperless office? So much for that prophecy - hard paper copies of important information aren't likely to disappear from our offices anytime soon. And they take up space - lots of it.

If you're storing old archives which are unlikely to be needed in a hurry, or are happy to organise a filing system for yourself, then a self-storage unit would most likely be sufficient. However, if you need someone to file your archives for you or you need documents retrieved and delivered, a dedicated archive storage company is what you're after.

Secure Data Management Ltd are a London based company providing secure document storage with the added benefit of a retrieval and delivery service. They even have an emergency document retrieval service so that that one absolutely essential document can be retrieved within 4 hours!

Data Storage

BACK UP!! BACK UP!! No, you're not about to run over the neighbour's cat, it's just your IT department telling you to make copies of all your important computer records. I'm sure we've all been told to backup our important files ad nauseum, but where do you store all this information? There's not much point storing them in the same premises as your computers or servers as any disaster that affects your computer system (flood, fire, burglary) will probably put paid to your precious backups as well.

These days backups are usually done over the internet, with the information being passed securely to a server which is located off-site. Many companies will install software onto your computer system which will automatically send your important data to be stored on their remote server. Wanstor is a London based company offering remote data backup from as little as £1 per gigabyte per month.

Vehicle Storage

One thing that London is definitely NOT known for is its overabundance of parking spaces. And let's face it - what public spaces are available aren't exactly cheap (or secure!).

If, like Mr Prescott, the road outside your home is struggling to cope with the amount of Jags parked there, or little oiks keep keying your pride and joy, or some moron in a Mercedes has reversed into your Ducati while it's parked - maybe it's time to think about storing your vehicle somewhere a bit safer.

One option is to rent a private parking space or garage. This is probably the best option if you regularly use your wheels. There are several companies out there that act as letting agents for parking spaces and garages - one that's well worth checking out is Park Let; they have plenty of off-street, secure spaces in London.

Another option is to use a specialist vehicle storage company. Such companies are usually geared towards dealing with the more affluent sectors of society - so if you've been looking for somewhere to store your original AC Cobra or Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow, these are the people to contact. A good place to start is Hamiltons Car Storage, based just outside London they offer storage for classic, sports and prestige cars and motorcycles. All vehicles are kept in a de-humidified atmosphere to negate moisture damage, covered by cotton coveralls, connected to battery conditioners, started and brought up to operating temperature once a month and are protected by a 24h monitored security system. As with many other specialist vehicle storage companies, they offer a range of extra services including valeting and servicing