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Paperless?
Old 12-23-2012, 06:56 AM   #1
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Paperless?

I'm thinking of getting a sheet feed scanner so that we can go paperless as much as possible. Tax returns, interesting articles, user manuals, receipts, etc. Looking at a lot of scanners, but mainly Fujitsu Scansnap. Online reviews are helpful, but there are always good tips to be had here at er.org.

Anyone have a scanner, software or home digital filing system that they recommend?
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Old 12-23-2012, 07:25 AM   #2
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Well, interesting question. I use TurboTax so returns are stored electronically anyway. Most articles are available online, so you can copy and paste and save. User manuals are also available online. When I buy something I go look for the manula online and save it too. I used to save every receipt...I MEAN EVERY receipt for about 15 years. One day I decided it didn't matter anymore. Took me 4 hours to shred/burn everything. I keep it all in quicken anyway, so I don't need the receipts. The only ones I save anymore are the ones for electronics or stuff I might have problems with or might return. Those you want to keep in paper form anyway. The scanners that are focused on "going paperless" are too high priced and the reality is that you likely don't need one.

That being said, I'm into Genealogy and have been digitizing all of my source materials and 4 generations of family pictures. I use the Canon 9000F. Canon U.S.A. : Consumer & Home Office : CanoScan 9000F

If you do decide to get a scanner, the 9000f is about the best for the price...and you can do papers, pictures AND negatives.

My 2cents.
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Old 12-23-2012, 07:40 AM   #3
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I went on a paperless crusade about a year ago when we moved to smaller space and I got rid of some file cabinets that I had in our old (bigger) house. My HP printer has a scanner so that is what I use, but most times I can access things online and download a pdf. I just have file folders with pdfs for the most part. If there is a better system to organize these things I would be interested in hearing about it.

Most receipts are available on line and many are things that it would not be the end of the world if I could not find (I'm thinking electric bills, cable bills, phone bills, etc.). I do a virtual file each quarter with bank statements, investment account statements, credit card statements, etc. essentially whatever is available for each asset or liability I have.

I like REattempt's idea of having a virtual file with owner's manuals - I have a whole drawerful. I also have tax returns, charitable contribution receipts, etc in a virtual file.

I use Quicken for my accounting and for more important receipts (real estate tax bills, etc) I sometimes attach a pdf to the payment. I was doing it for a lot more things at first but my Quicken file was getting bloated.
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Old 12-23-2012, 07:49 AM   #4
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Like others have said, what wasn't originally saved electronically, I've scanned in as PDFs for years. Went back and scanned all my tax returns back to the late 70's and shredded the paper copies I had all those years. I've had an HP 4&1 print/scan/copy/fax for years, it was a work Christmas party gift, so it cost me nada. However, the PDF files from my 4&1 are larger than I'd like. I used to scan docs in a work on the main copier, and the PDF files from that were small yet still sharp images. All part of our ongoing decluttering, a happy project.
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Old 12-23-2012, 09:00 AM   #5
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Question for those who are (going) paperless: What type of digital storage system do you use and what type of backup system?

omni
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Old 12-23-2012, 09:08 AM   #6
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Question for those who are (going) paperless: What type of digital storage system do you use and what type of backup system?

omni
I keep my files on my HD, all backed up with an external HD (updated every 2 weeks). And I write it to CD/DVD periodically, then delete those files from both HDs FIFO, to minimize exposure.
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Old 12-23-2012, 09:37 AM   #7
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Fujitsu ScanSnap S1500M.
Amazon.com: Fujitsu ScanSnap S1500M Instant PDF Sheet-Fed Scanner for the Macintosh: Office Products

I bought this almost two years ago, and have used it almost daily since.
Both the hardware and software are supremely user-friendly and bulletproof, and I absolutely love it.

I've gotten rid of a couple of file drawers full of old documents, and practically every new document that comes in gets scanned and shredded in short order.

I'm sure there are equivalent models that cost less, but this one had such stellar reviews from every source I checked that I went ahead and bought it. Very glad I did.
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Old 12-23-2012, 09:56 AM   #8
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When I went paperless a couple of years ago, I used a Xerox Documate 510 scanner to scan every document stored in my file cabinet.

I don't have to scan a lot of documents anymore - most can be found online as PDFs nowadays.

I store my docs in an encrypted volume on my hard drive and back up the volume on an external drive.
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Old 12-23-2012, 10:13 AM   #9
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Fujitsu ScanSnap S1500M.
Amazon.com: Fujitsu ScanSnap S1500M Instant PDF Sheet-Fed Scanner for the Macintosh: Office Products

I bought this almost two years ago, and have used it almost daily since.
Both the hardware and software are supremely user-friendly and bulletproof, and I absolutely love it.

I've gotten rid of a couple of file drawers full of old documents, and practically every new document that comes in gets scanned and shredded in short order.

I'm sure there are equivalent models that cost less, but this one had such stellar reviews from every source I checked that I went ahead and bought it. Very glad I did.
I've seen some reviews online that indicate a problem with either the Scansnap or its Adobe 9 software with the Mac lion or mountain lion operating system. What operating system are you running?
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Old 12-23-2012, 10:16 AM   #10
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Regarding back-ups, I used to have a RAID 1 (mirrored) array on my computer, keeping a real-time backup, along with a back-up on a separate hard drive kept in a separate physical location. In other words, for each hard drive I had, there 2 extra ones with the same data on.

I have now become a bit less paranoid and settle for running a back-up to just one extra hard-drive and keeping that drive in a fireproof case in my place. At some point, I intend to also give a back-up to a friend to add redundancy.
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Old 12-23-2012, 11:02 AM   #11
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I've seen some reviews online that indicate a problem with either the Scansnap or its Adobe 9 software with the Mac lion or mountain lion operating system. What operating system are you running?
Mountain Lion (MacOS 10.8.2).
No problems here.
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Old 12-23-2012, 11:50 AM   #12
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I am mostly paperless.

Rather than have a dedicated scanner I have an HP officejet 8600 printer/scanner.

Things that were important to me

I wanted an automatic feeder since that saves time

Wanted to be able to scan both sides of documents. Lots of things (example - insurance policies) are two sided.

Some things are very touchy and jam easily. The HPs seem to do well.

I also wanted to be able to scan to glass and not just sheet fed since sometimes I want to scan things that can't be fed through.

TO back up I regularly save everything to an external drive. I actually have a couple of these. I also have a couple of computers that I keep copies of all this on.
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Old 12-23-2012, 11:53 AM   #13
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I have the Scansnap S1100 at work and use it daily. It is great for a few sheets at a time...if you are doing big docs however, a sheetfed would be better. Very easy to use and set up...no power cord either (USB).
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Old 12-23-2012, 12:21 PM   #14
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Highly recommend the fujitsu scansnap (we have the s1500m). We have run hundreds of thousands of pages through it and it works great (over 1500 books plus lots of other misc papers).

In terms of a digital filing system, you can quickly become buried under a mountain of files if you don't have a consistent naming system. Books get named "Author -- Title -- Year" and papers/bills get title "YYYYMMDD - bill name". We also turn on OCR for all files to make the PDFs searchable. OCR will take extra time but you can run it in the background.

For backup, everything has at least three backups with at least 1 offsite. I use hard drives with an external USB dock (the dock is easier than managing external cases + adapters) and store them in the anti-static bag in the original box. Software wise, we use rsync (a command line tool) but there are lots of programs that will do this incrementally. I would not use finder / windows explorer copy as they are not incremental and I don't think they verify the write.

Important files with SSN numbers are stored in an encrypted disk image.

For photos, the scansnap is not so great and so we are using a Canoscan 9000f. Photos are digitized at 600 dpi (1200 dpi /48bits for important pictures) and files are numbed by YYYYMMDD_XXXX where XXXX is a sequence number. I just started with photos and I'm thinking of organizing/captioning the photos in lightroom (but I may use aperture/iphoto as that is what the rest of my family uses).
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Old 12-23-2012, 03:47 PM   #15
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I'm still old school. Like that paper. Kill them trees!

Sure I eventually shred all of it, but I have tons of time and what happens when the commies/Taliban take over our computers and will not allow us to retrieve that receipt from 2005?
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Old 12-23-2012, 07:15 PM   #16
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Mountain Lion (MacOS 10.8.2).
No problems here.
What kind of OCR software are you using?

Or are you storing scans as graphics files rather than some kind of text which can be searched with Spotlight?
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Old 12-23-2012, 07:32 PM   #17
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What kind of OCR software are you using?
The software that came with the scanner (ScanSnap Manager). Good stuff.
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Old 12-23-2012, 07:40 PM   #18
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Thanks everyone for the tips!

Once again this forum has pointed me in the right direction. I started organizing my files today, online manuals, past receipts. I'm familiar with file naming conventions from some megacorp clients so I'm good to go there. Now I just need to order the scanner and finish up the rest of my personal stuff. Also using it to finish documenting my retirement transition at work. This should be the last tool I need to organize myself paperlessly.
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Old 12-23-2012, 10:36 PM   #19
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Wow that scanner is lot more than I expected.

Doesn't look like you can scan photos?
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Old 12-24-2012, 09:09 AM   #20
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What kind of OCR software are you using?

Or are you storing scans as graphics files rather than some kind of text which can be searched with Spotlight?
Though you didn't ask me, I store everything as PDFs, IOW graphics of a sort. I wouldn't bother with OCR software since it's all "records" - not something I'd edit or modify. Like others I use filenames to help me find whatever I might need. YMMV

Has OCR software gotten that accurate? Admittedly it's been years since I tried using OCR software, but even when reading a clear printed document, the software inevitable misread up to 25% of the text/numbers making it less than useful.
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