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What Is the Difference Between Self Storage and Mini Storage

Isabella Blake | April 13, 2021 @ 12:00 AM

When you look into renting a storage unit, chances are you’ll come across two important terms: mini storage and self storage. For example, our company is called Derrel’s Mini Storage, but there are plenty of facilities that use “self storage” in their titles. So, what’s the difference?

These days there’s practically no difference. The terms are interchangeable. Some people do note slight differences in meaning, but on a practical level, they don’t matter. However, some history will help.


Self Storage

The term “self storage” is short for “self-service storage,” and it dates back to the 1960s. Russ Williams and Bob Munn were pioneers in the field, and they opened a Texas facility called “A1 U-Store-It U-Lock-It U-Carry-the-Key.” These days, since people know what self storage is, we don’t need to describe it in the title of our businesses, and the company Williams and Munn started is now AAA Self Storage. Oddly enough, they opened that first location as a place for oil companies to store their barrels and supplies, not for ordinary people needing to store their belongings.


Mini Storage

When the 1970s rolled around, the industry really took off. Entrepreneurs realized that a lot of people needed somewhere to store their extra stuff and the self storage industry exploded. Back then, however, many of these new companies used the term “mini-storage.” The idea is that when you rent a unit, you’re renting a “mini-warehouse” for your personal possessions.


To Get Specific

There’s no set definition for mini storage as opposed to self storage these days, though a few people do use the term in slightly different ways.

Older facilities, dating back to the 1970s, often use mini storage in their titles. However, the majority of these facilities have updated their premises and technology since the early days and are indistinguishable from facilities using the term self storage.

Some facilities with parking lots where you can store your car, RV, or boat, like many of our Derrel’s Mini Storage locations, consider the parking spaces as a sort of mini-warehouse and therefore use the term mini storage.

Some people think of extra-large storage units as mini storage. That may seem backward, but units 20x40 or larger really are like small warehouses.


Look at the Features

For the most part, within and outside the industry, mini storage and self storage are considered two terms for the same thing.

When you need to rent a storage unit or a space to park a vehicle, instead of focusing on these terms, it’s best to look for the features you need.

Derrel’s Mini Storage has sixty facilities throughout central California, and our sites offer a variety of features. We have climate-controlled storage, RV and boat storage, gated entry, online bill pay, indoor and drive-up units, on-site management, and a range of unit sizes from small to extra-large. We’ll help you set up personal or business storage, too. 

When you do need a unit, whether you prefer the term self storage or mini-storage, sign up with us online or in person. We’re always happy to get you started with a new storage unit.

Isabella Blake
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