Easy Ways to Scan Paper Documents
The one weakness of online file storage is that it does not protect physical documents. Making the switch to online file storage often includes scanning lots of paper documents. This can be a huge burden for individuals and small businesses that don’t already have an easy way to scan paper documents to the digital format.
If you would like to add your paper files to your backup account, you’re going to need to scan those documents to the digital format. This is not a fun task if you have a lot of paper files lying around the home or office. Fortunately, you have a few options for scanning paper documents in bulk.
Do It Yourself with a Bulk Scanner
This is the best option if you have lots of documents don’t want to spend a ton of money. Get a quality scanner that can load documents in bulk. One scanner in particular that consistently gets high reviews is the Fujitsu ScanSnap S1500. This scanner can scan documents in bulk and automatically turn them into PDF files, JPG files, editable Word files or editable Excel files.
The Fujitsu ScanSnap will set you back about $400 but it’s worth the money if you have a lot of documents and expect to scan more in the future. It can easily scan both the front and back of documents. You can load up to 50 pages at once into the scanner and it will take care of the rest.
You’ll get about 20 pages per minute with this scanner. So if you have 100 pages to scan, it will take you about five minutes. A thousand pages will take you about an hour. Even with this high end consumer scanner, a large collection of files might take a while. On the positive side, the cost of the scanner is cheaper than outsourcing a large set of paper files.
There are cheaper scanners out there, but you get what you pay for with this kind of hardware. I have a cheap scanner attached to my printer and it’s lucky to get 1 page per minute. Each page must be loaded separately and scanned one at a time. This solution works fine for scanning files as I get them, but I would not want to use a scanner like this to scan hundreds of pages all at once.
Pay Someone Else to Scan Your Papers
There are a number of companies that will scan your documents for you. Outsourcing is more expensive but also more hands-free. Just bring your documents in to the scanning service and they’ll take care of the rest. The downside to outsourcing your scanning needs is that it costs more per page.
Kinko’s is a popular option because it is everywhere. The last time I checked, Kinko’s was charging $0.49 per page. This can add up quickly if you have a lot of files. Then again, a paid document scanning service does save you a lot of time. Compare the cost of outsourcing to the cost of missing work to scan pages all day and make your decision from there.
You can also do a local search on Google to compare prices between scanning services in your area. To do this, visit Google.com and click on the “maps” link at the top of the page. Type “document scanning” followed by your area code into the search bar and click on the search button. This will bring up a list of all scanning services near you.
When you’re done scanning and uploading everything to the cloud, you can either trash your original copies or keep them. Legal documents, birth certificates, social security cards, wills, marriages licenses and other files of significant importance should be kept forever. If you have any questions about what to keep and what to throw away, contact a lawyer. Certain business industries have strict controls on how long documentation must be kept.
Climate controlled storage units can also be used to house original copies. This solution isn’t optimal for really important files though. Your best bet is to lock your files up in a lock box at the bank and keep copies backed up online. This combination of storage methods provides maximum protection for your files.
Speaking of which, a business idea that I’ve been mulling over recently is the idea of combining online storage with self-storage. Self-storage customers come from all backgrounds, but personal computers are slowly infiltrating all of society. With affiliate programs and white label solutions so easy to set up, I wouldn’t be surprised if we don’t see the occasional self-storage business start offering online storage to its customers.