Before you entrust your most valuable goods to a safe there are a few things you need to consider first. There are a variety of safes on the market and many have distinct functions, advantages and drawbacks.

Buying the wrong type of safe for your specific needs might leave you dissatisfied and feeling like you wasted your money. However, the right safe can mean the difference between losing and keeping your most valuable and prized possessions. Here are four decisions you should make before buying a safe:

Fire vs. Security Safe

The two forces that you have to worry about are man and Mother Nature. Luckily, there are safes specifically built for each one. A security safe is designed to withstand physical attacks. They are intended to extend the time it takes for a criminal to crack a code or locking mechanism. For example, the Phoenix Planet Eurograde 4 safe has an excellent Eurograde 4 rating and a Platinum Star 2 rating making it a high quality security safe but not rated for fire protection.

A fire safe is specifically designed to withstand heat and flame for specified amounts of time. Even when engulfed in fire, this type of safe keeps the interior at a tolerable temperature so that sensitive documents don’t get damaged. However, sometimes even the best fire safes don’t offer the highest security. The Sentry OA5835 Digital Electronic Fire/Water Safe is tested to withstand fire for up to 120 minutes but is only really good for protecting against inexperienced criminals. It can take intense heat but not intense physical safe cracking.

There are hybrid safes available that can withstand both burglary and natural damage. These are typically higher in price but tend to prove themselves in their effectiveness.

Key vs. Digital Locks

Safes usually have either digital locks or mechanical key locks. A digital lock offers quick access and convenience for safe owners and some even have fingerprint scanning technology. Plus, the combinations are easier to change on a digital lock than on a key lock. However, digital locks are possibly vulnerable to tampering or combination guessing, although this is unlikely.

Key locks are generally considered to be more secure than the digital option. If you don’t have the physical key you will have a hard time getting in. Some safes even have dual lock features which require two keys. On the other hand, this means you need to keep track of the physical keys and if you lose one, the locks are difficult to change.

What Eurograde Class Do You Need?

If you are set on having a certified and tested safe then you will want to take Eurogrades into consideration. The Eurograde system is a rating from 0 to 6 that describes how a safe faired when tested and the monetary value you should entrust it with. The higher the Eurograde rating, the superior its security (it can also mean a higher price.) Eurograde 4, 5 and 6 are great for businesses, especially ones that are responsible for a lot of money or valuables like payroll services or jewellers. Eurogrades at the lower end of the spectrum are fine for home use. Just be sure you don’t keep contents in a safe that aren’t rated for the value.