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Updated Aug 31, 2022 4:31 PM

Life comes with inevitable office detritus. While more and more of modern life is going digital, there are still bills, birth certificates, warranties, tax records and returns, the deed to your house, etc., that need to be filed in some secure storage space. The key to keeping your important documents organized and easy to find—and stopping them from taking over your living space—is to find the filing system for your particular needs. The great news is, unlike the austere rectangles of yore, the best file cabinets can be super stylish to amp up your interior decor instead of detracting from it.

Even if they’re more concentrated on function than form, filing cabinets are more a boon than a burden. While it may sound counterintuitive, dedicating this space can help free up space, so check out our selections for the best cabinets that can make it easier to establish a filing system organized from A to Zen.

How we chose the best file cabinets

File cabinets don’t just hold any old papers—they protect important documents that ensure we can live our lives to the fullest. They also allow us to revisit important memories if they’re used to store film. This means there’s a lot at stake when it comes to distinguishing the finest file cabinets from the flops. Plus, storing things physically looks a lot different than storing things online. In our judging, we took the number of drawers, materials, wheels, fireproofing, and design into consideration. We also looked at critical reviews and user recommendations and conducted heavy research to choose the best file cabinets.

What to consider when buying the best file cabinets

At their root, all filing cabinets do the same thing: file. But finding the best file cabinets for you has everything to do with your particular needs and preferences. Do you want something on wheels that can be moved from room to room? What about something fireproof for incredibly important, sensitive documents? Are you looking for a two-drawer, three-drawer, or four-drawer file cabinet? Do you need an option that locks? Do you like the austere, all-business look of a metal filing system, or would you prefer something a bit warmer, like wood? Do you like the classic straight-up-and-down vertical filing system, or do you prefer lateral file cabinets, which feature drawers on the wide side? Perhaps even instead of searching for one that fits your desk, you want to purchase a cabinet that comes with a desk! 

If you’re looking for some serious office organization, here is what you should know about choosing the best file cabinet:  

Material

There’s a reason metal filers have been around for so long. First and foremost, they’re sturdy and durable, and they can also be lighter than some other materials, such as wood. What you sacrifice is style: For the most part, metal file cabinets look like, well, metal file cabinets. But if aesthetics aren’t your main concern and you just want a safe place to organize important papers, you really can’t go wrong with a steel style.

Aesthetics

If aesthetics are important to you and you’re turned off by the austere look of metal, there are plenty of other good-looking options. Wood pieces have the look of regular furniture, so they blend seamlessly with the rest of your furnishings and don’t scream “filing cabinet.” The only downside is that you may have to pay a bit more to get the look, and they get heavy quickly. There are also some cool metal file cabinets out there that look modern thanks to rounded corners and a unique design.

Movement

If movement is important to you, be sure to pick a style that has 360-degree wheels for maximum ease. They move in every direction and on most surfaces, so whether you’ve got hardwood floors or wall-to-wall carpeting, you should be all set. The good news is that many cabinet models—in loads of styles—feature casters, so it’s not hard to find a pick that’s right for you and also rolls with it, baby.  

All-in-one vs. standalone

The greatest part about buying a minimalist all-in-one desk with a file cabinet is that you get the best of both worlds: a work surface plus a place to store your important papers without the cumbersome design of a solid desk with multiple drawers. Plus, you know all the pieces will match, and you won’t have to worry about measuring to make sure the cabinet clears the desk. It’s by far the easiest way to incorporate a filing system into your desk.

Fireproofing

A combination of fireproof insulation and metal is what makes a file cabinet resistant to flames and smoke. Look for a cabinet with a UL (Underwriters Laboratories) rating that corresponds with what you need to protect: 350 for paper, 150 for tapes and film, 125 for floppy disks (the numbers correspond to the heat resistance the cabinet can provide; e.g., a UL Class 350 can withstand 350 degrees Fahrenheit for one hour). These are not cheap, but if what you’re storing is priceless (or at least extremely difficult to replace), shelling out now for a cabinet that will protect you later is a worthwhile investment.

Budget

You can be on your way to a more organized life for less than $50. Perhaps you won’t get something as heavy-duty as an old-school filer, but you can certainly create your own system using lots of freestanding file boxes. In fact, a filing system comprised of affordable separate boxes gives you flexibility: You can store some boxes in one room, others in another, hide some away in a closet … they’re actually a great option for anyone looking for a little more latitude in the way they store. 

The best file cabinets: Reviews & Recommendations

Most of us think of office cabinets as pieces that belong at, well, the office. But with more and more people working from home, and the traditional workday moving from eight hours to reachable-all-the-time, having dedicated home office furniture for your work documents can add a real peace of mind—and allow you to distinctly delineate your work-life balance (even when they’re technically in the same place). Here are the best file cabinets we found to up your work-from-home set-up.

Best overall: Lorell 14341 18-Deep Two-Drawer File Cabinet 

Lorell

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Why it made the cut: At 2 feet high, this file cabinet is a no-fuss solution that fits easily in your home office.

Specs

  • Lock: Yes
  • Dimensions: 14.5 x 18 x 24 inches
  • Number of drawers: N/A
  • Wheels: No

Pros

  • Made of sturdy steel
  • A built-in lock ensures security
  • Deep for papers for all sizes

Cons

  • Heavy

At 24 inches, this steel vertical cabinet features two drawers that open and close easily thanks to its glide suspension. Its 18-inch depth fits most papers and folders. Weighing 19 pounds and without wheels, you’ll want to place this somewhere you plan to keep it. However, this is a fuss-and-frills-free file cabinet that is perfect for keeping important documents organized. An included key lock means you can keep them secure if need be.

Best wooden: DEVAISE Three-Drawer Rolling File Cabinet with Lock

DEVAISE

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Why it made the cut: Security and style aren’t sacrificed with this wooden file cabinet.

Specs

  • Lock: Yes
  • Dimensions: 17.7 x 15.5 x 25.8 inches
  • Number of drawers: 3
  • Wheels: Yes

Pros

  • Two stationary drawers
  • Lock-in-place casters
  • Stable and strong

Cons

  • Technically has only one drawer to store documents

If you’re looking for a stylish file cabinet that is as secure as it is beautiful, look no further than this wooden file cabinet on wheels. Five anti-tipping, swiveling, lock-in-place casters make this one easy to move from room to room but stable enough to stay put wherever it lands. No handles give it a modern look. Two stationery drawers and one filing drawer that fit letter-size hanging folders hold up to 55 pounds each. Ball bearings ensure the drawers open and shut smoothly. Plus, one lock secures all three drawers. 

Best three-drawer: INTERGREAT Locking Three-Drawer Filing Cabinet

INTERGREAT

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Why it made the cut: A 330-pound weight capacity makes this cool filing cabinet pretty tough.

Specs

  • Lock: Yes
  • Dimensions: 19.8 x 15.7 x 25 inches
  • Number of drawers: 3
  • Wheels: Yes

Pros

  • Stylist
  • Durable
  • Adjustable hanger

Cons

  • Technically has only one drawer to store documents

This unique filing cabinet looks like a furniture piece straight from “The Jetsons” and is sure to be a stylish addition to your office. Two stationery drawers let you store office supplies and other essentials—hello, snack drawer. The bottom third drawer of this cabinet features an adjustable hanger that’s perfect for folders for ultimate document organization. Inset handles and ball bearings make the drawers easy to open and close. The entire unit can hold up to 330 pounds, making it pretty but tough. Plus, it’s treated with eco-friendly powder to keep it corrosion, rust, and damage-free after purchase.

Best for home office: COASTER Brennan 3-Drawer Reversible Office Deck

Coaster Home Furnishings

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Why it made the cut: There’s no need to get a separate desk with this cabinet-tabletop combination, making it perfect for your home office.

Specs

  • Lock: No
  • Dimensions: 23.5 x 47.25 x 30 inches
  • Number of drawers: 3
  • Wheels: No

Pros

  • Built-in desk
  • Neutral colors match with many color schemes
  • Can hold legal documents

Cons

  • Heavy

This simple setup, with silver steel frame, is the perfect combination of form and function at a relatively reasonable price point. It comes in a weathered grey to go with any color scheme and includes two storage drawers and one file cabinet with Euro glides (it can hold letter/legal/A4 files). Simply add a desk chair and you’re ready to get to work. However, it’s a little on the heavy side at 72.6 pounds.

Best fireproof: Fireking Turtle Fireproof File Cabinet 

FireKing

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Why it made the cut: Get ultimate peace of mind with this ultra-protective fireproof file cabinet.

Specs

  • Lock: Yes
  • Dimensions: 22.13 x 17.75 x 52.75 inches
  • Number of drawers: 4
  • Wheels: No

Pros

  • Legal-size drawers
  • Incredibly durable
  • Scratch-resistant finish

Cons

  • Expensive

All four letter/legal-size drawers of this tower are deep enough and equipped to hang folders (no extra accessories required). A key lock stores everything inside securely, and a scratch-resistant finish keeps the outside free of damage too. The fireproof insulation is 100% gypsum reinforced by a 1-inch x 2-inch lattice made of 14-gauge galvanized welded steel wire, providing safety in case of fire, impact, or explosion. Although it is expensive, it’s a worthwhile investment if you’re looking to store important documents and have peace of mind that they’ll stay safe.

Best budget: Aesthetic File Organizer Box 

ZICOTO

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Why it made the cut: You don’t have to spend a lot of money to stay organized thanks to this cheap file box.

Specs

  • Lock: No
  • Dimensions: ‎15.95 x 13.1 x 10.2 inches
  • Number of drawers: N/A
  • Wheels: N/A

Pros

  • Cheap
  • Looks less intimidating than a standard file cabinet
  • Collapsible when not in use

Cons

  • Might need something sturdier if looking for a long-term solution

The best part of these space-saving linen cabinets is that when you’re not using them, they collapse down to a slim, flat square for easy storability. Built-in handles make them easy to move around, and a card slot allows you to label each box so you can easily find what you’re looking for. Note that when hanging files are present, you won’t be able to use the lid. 

FAQs

Q: Are steel file cabinets fireproof?

No, steel file cabinets are not necessarily fireproof. Only cabinets that are insulated specifically to stop fire from getting in and have a suitable UL rating for whatever you’re storing are considered fireproof. The absolute most important thing to check for is proper insulation, which slows down the fire’s encroachment on the inside of the cabinet. 

Q: Do lateral file cabinets hold more?

The drawers of a lateral file cabinet extend from the long horizontal side, meaning that they can hold more than traditional vertical pieces. The tradeoff is that they also take up more room and aren’t designed to fit under a desk. They’re perfect for anyone with room to spare and/or lots of free wall space.

Q: What is the difference between legal- and letter-size file cabinets?

Letter-size paper is 8.5 by 11 inches; legal is 8.5 by 14 inches. Most cabinets can accommodate letter-size paper (it’s the most common size, similar to A4). If you use mostly legal-size paper or you’re not sure, be on the safe side and invest in office organization that will fit both.

Final thoughts on the best file cabinets

The best news about being ready to buy any filing system is that it means you’re on your way to a less cluttered life. Once you’ve committed to office organization, you just need to figure out the features you want and need in your filing cabinets—wheels, sleek design, versatility, lateral drawers—and get shopping for other office furniture to keep your work-from-home set-up clean and efficient.

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