As the self storage industry continues to evolve, operators are presented with different options to cater to the growing demands of customers. Whether you are starting a new self storage business or already own an existing facility, you may need to answer this question during your business journey, are internal self storage or external self storage facilities best for you?
In this blog post, we will explore what sets these options apart, highlight the benefits and drawbacks of each, and provide an objective overview for aspiring operators.
Internal Self Storage

Internal self storage refers to storage facilities that are typically located inside a building, often in a multi-storey facility. These storage units are accessible only through the building, requiring users to navigate corridors or elevators to access their storage space. The facility will usually include a reception area and/or office space.

The key benefits of internal self storage units are:

Security Features
There is often a range of security measures in place for indoor self storage facilities. These include security gates, alarms, surveillance cameras, access control and unit locks. This helps keep belongings safe and secure.

Internal facilities typically offer the advantage of being located nearer to populated areas, making it more convenient for customers to access their belongings without traveling far. This proximity is especially advantageous for urban tenants, as it saves time and effort. There are also a range of on-site amenities such as trollies and packing supplies.

Indoor self storage facilities are a more flexible option compared to outdoor facilities. These units come in a range of sizes and the design can be optimised to maximise space within a building.

Climate Control
Many internal self storage facilities boast climate-controlled units, providing added protection against extreme temperatures, humidity, and other environmental factors. This feature appeals to customers with temperature-sensitive items or those seeking optimal storage conditions.

Pest Control
Infestation risk is reduced within internal facilities. Since you are not exposed to nature, there are fewer entry points for insects, pests, and other undesirable animals, providing a safe and secure storage space.

While internal self storage offers numerous advantages, it is important to consider the disadvantages before making a decision.

Due to their location within larger buildings, internal storage units may have limited access hours or require users to navigate through common areas, walkways, or elevators. This can present challenges for customers who require frequent or after-hours access to their belongings.

Internal self storage facilities often come with higher overhead costs, including rent and maintenance. These costs may be passed on to customers through higher rental fees, possibly making it less attractive to price-sensitive renters.

Loading/Offloading Goods
Moving belongings in and out of indoor storage facilities can be more difficult then external units. If the building is restricted with access or on higher floors, loading and offloading goods will require you to navigate through corridors and lifts. While there is efficiency in doing this, it is more challenging compared to external units.

External Self Storage

External self storage units or shipping containers, on the other hand, are located outside and refer to standalone structures where customers can drive up to their units for easy loading and unloading. These units are typically arranged in rows or multiple units within an open lot and can be used as individual storage rooms or relocatable units.

Let’s examine the benefits external self storage units offer:

External self storage units generally come at a lower price point compared to internal options. The reduced overhead costs, often associated with standalone facilities, allow operators to offer competitive pricing, appealing to customers looking for budget-friendly storage solutions.

External self storage units provide customers with the ability to drive up to their units, eliminating the need to navigate through a larger building. This ease of access is particularly valuable for users with large or heavy items and for those who frequently visit their storage space.

Storage Space
Outdoor storage allows space for larger units which makes them accessible to heavy items such as vehicles and machinery, which may not be easy to access indoors due to navigating around corridors.

Security Features
The area where the outdoor units are located can be secured with features such as, heavy duty or electronic locks, surveillance cameras, flood lighting, fencing and access control date access. This can help protect from damage and theft.

Maximise Space
If you have any underutilised space at an existing self storage facility or other areas, external units are the perfect solution to maximise profits by using underutilised space. It is also a good solution for those who are new to self storage and would like to test the waters before committing to building a new facility.

While external self storage units offer cost advantages and easy access, certain factors should be taken into account:

Weather Exposure
Unlike internal storage, external units are more likely to be exposed to weather conditions, especially extreme temperatures, rain, and snow. This exposure might require customers to take additional measures to protect their units such as opting in for insulated units.

Geographical Limitations
External self storage facilities might be limited in their geographical placement. Finding large enough plots of land in densely populated areas is a challenge, meaning customers may have to travel a bit further to access their storage units.

Pest Control
Since the outdoor self storage units are exposed to nature there is risk of infestation and certain measures would need to be taken into consideration to avoid insects, pests, and other undesirable animals.


It is essential for operators to understand the differences between internal self storage and external self storage before making a decision for their business. While internal self storage offers convenience and climate control, it may come with accessibility challenges and higher costs. On the other hand, external self storage offer affordability and easy access but expose belongings to weather conditions and may be geographically limited.

Selecting the right self storage solution or space configuration is essential for your business success. Ultimately, the choice between internal and external self storage boils down to the unique circumstances, target market, and objectives of each operator. By carefully evaluating these factors, operators can make an informed decision that aligns with their business vision and meets the needs of their customers.

For further information about the Janus International range of self storage solutions, please get in touch on: or +44 (0) 20 8744 9444.

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