Service that would scan/digitize thousands of pages?

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Service that would scan/digitize thousands of pages?

Postby dandan14 » Thu Dec 20, 2012 6:35 pm

I have a very common problem of way too much paper in the house. I have nearly 20 years of tax returns in my file cabinet for starters.

Does anyone know of a way (or a company I can pay) to scan all of that stuff and digitize it?

It is certainly not something that would be cost effective for me to scan 1 page at a time.
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Re: Service that would scan/digitize thousands of pages?

Postby ryuns » Thu Dec 20, 2012 6:45 pm

I don't have a great recommendation for you--it seems that you'd want to be very careful with whom you shared that information. But you could consider upgrading your current scanner to one that could do multiple pages and two sides, especially if you think this will come in handy in the future. My $100 Canon multi function does two sided scans of about 20 pages at a time. Interface for savings is slightly clunky, but it does do PDF with relative ease.

If you're creative, you could also set up a stationary digital camera and take pictures of each page. At, say, 5 seconds a page, it would be tedious but fairly time efficient. You wouldn't have tidy files for each tax year, for instance, but that may not be necessary for, say, 1990-2008 which could sit as one file. (Well, prudence suggests a couple of different files types, like jpeg and PDF or something.)
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Re: Service that would scan/digitize thousands of pages?

Postby JamesSFO » Thu Dec 20, 2012 6:49 pm

(1) Consider disposing of some of the items, do you need 20 year old tax returns for example?

(2) Get a scanner with a sheet feeder, some of these things you probably don't really want third parties scanning, and a $200 Canon Pixma inkjet can scan a stack of 40-50 pieces of paper fairly fast

(3) Look into vendors for the rest, but it may be more expensive than it is worth compared to just rolling your own on the weekend while you watch TV or some such.
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Re: Service that would scan/digitize thousands of pages?

Postby Sidney » Thu Dec 20, 2012 6:52 pm

for older ones, just scan the return but not the supporting docs.
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Re: Service that would scan/digitize thousands of pages?

Postby Curlyq » Thu Dec 20, 2012 7:02 pm

I second the suggestion to get a nice duplex (double-sided, as you would be surprised at how many paper items have information on both sides) high-speed scanner. I have the Epson GT-S50 and love it. I also second the suggestion to decide what paper items you no longer have need for, such as the older tax returns. Also, http://www.shredit.com is a resource to find out if shredding services are offered in your area.

When I took over as financial fiduciary for my dad, we first went through a couple of tall file cabinets of paperwork. The great majority of which, dad did not need to save. I then scanned the remaining documents and made the backup copies. We had the boxes of discards shredded by shredit. It was a wonderful feeling to get rid of the physical and mental weight of all that paperwork and this really facilitated dad's move into a smaller place. I'm doing the same for myself this winter.
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Re: Service that would scan/digitize thousands of pages?

Postby Kevin_RN » Thu Dec 20, 2012 7:13 pm

I bought EPSON GT-1500 from staples (link: http://www.staples.com/Epson-WorkForce- ... uct_768141) recently and have started to convert my files to PDF formats. I was on a roll the first couple of days and was able to scan a lot of documents including all my income tax returns, mortgage stuff, pay stubs, etc... I am not done due to my procrastination though. :oops:

You also need to have an external hard drive to store these e-files. I bought WD My Passport 3TB from costco for like 120 bucks. The e-files are in my imac and my portable external hard drive.
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Re: Service that would scan/digitize thousands of pages?

Postby mike143 » Thu Dec 20, 2012 8:52 pm

Kevin_RN wrote:I bought EPSON GT-1500 from staples (link: http://www.staples.com/Epson-WorkForce- ... uct_768141) recently and have started to convert my files to PDF formats. I was on a roll the first couple of days and was able to scan a lot of documents including all my income tax returns, mortgage stuff, pay stubs, etc... I am not done due to my procrastination though. :oops:

You also need to have an external hard drive to store these e-files. I bought WD My Passport 3TB from costco for like 120 bucks. The e-files are in my imac and my portable external hard drive.

What happen when your house burns down? If you have though of that and have a safety deposit box, what happens when you have a local disaster, flood, fire, etc.
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Re: Service that would scan/digitize thousands of pages?

Postby Curlyq » Thu Dec 20, 2012 9:00 pm

mike143 wrote:What happen when your house burns down? If you have though of that and have a safety deposit box, what happens when you have a local disaster, flood, fire, etc.


I'm slowly moving my digital items to the Cloud, but there are downsides to that as well.
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Re: Service that would scan/digitize thousands of pages?

Postby mike143 » Thu Dec 20, 2012 9:11 pm

Curlyq wrote:
mike143 wrote:What happen when your house burns down? If you have though of that and have a safety deposit box, what happens when you have a local disaster, flood, fire, etc.


I'm slowly moving my digital items to the Cloud, but there are downsides to that as well.

I hate the term cloud all it equals is a client server architecture or data storage infrastructure you don't own/control.
Last edited by mike143 on Thu Dec 20, 2012 9:13 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Service that would scan/digitize thousands of pages?

Postby Kevin_RN » Thu Dec 20, 2012 9:12 pm

mike143 wrote:
Kevin_RN wrote:I bought EPSON GT-1500 from staples (link: http://www.staples.com/Epson-WorkForce- ... uct_768141) recently and have started to convert my files to PDF formats. I was on a roll the first couple of days and was able to scan a lot of documents including all my income tax returns, mortgage stuff, pay stubs, etc... I am not done due to my procrastination though. :oops:

You also need to have an external hard drive to store these e-files. I bought WD My Passport 3TB from costco for like 120 bucks. The e-files are in my imac and my portable external hard drive.

What happen when your house burns down? If you have though of that and have a safety deposit box, what happens when you have a local disaster, flood, fire, etc.


I was just answering the OP's question regarding having "way too much paper in the house" and having the files scanned. He did not ask how he can protect the files from fire or disaster.

I converted my files to pdf documents to reduce the clutter in my house. I think that is what the OP wants as well.
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Re: Service that would scan/digitize thousands of pages?

Postby MathWizard » Thu Dec 20, 2012 9:17 pm

Do you have a nephew or niece that you trust who would do it for a fee?
It would be a way to keep the money in the family, and their time is worth less than yours.
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Re: Service that would scan/digitize thousands of pages?

Postby 02sbxstr » Thu Dec 20, 2012 9:38 pm

In terms of retained records, when was the last time you were asked to reproduce one? I'm 63 years old and have never had to do so. If you want to keep tax returns forever, be my guest, but it is most unlikely that anyone will ever ask to see them. As for financial, I don't think Vanguard (or Fidelity, etc.) is going to cook the books on your account, so why keep their records forever? It would be very hard to alter computer records because these records are backed up daily and change these backups would be problematic. I make .pdfs of what I think I would like to retain and back up on carbonite, been doing so for years. Relax.
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Re: Service that would scan/digitize thousands of pages?

Postby bottlecap » Thu Dec 20, 2012 9:47 pm

Call a local copying service. If they don't do it, they should be able to recommend someone.

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Re: Service that would scan/digitize thousands of pages?

Postby LadyGeek » Thu Dec 20, 2012 9:52 pm

02sbxstr wrote:I make .pdfs of what I think I would like to retain and back up on carbonite, been doing so for years. Relax.

Caution, carbonite is not an archival service. If you delete a file, it will be gone in 30 days. Permanently. See: Retention of Deleted Files

You may want to discuss this on one of several computer backup threads. Search the forum for carbonite.
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Re: Service that would scan/digitize thousands of pages?

Postby THY4373 » Thu Dec 20, 2012 10:23 pm

I just got done scanning over 20,000 pages (my scanner has a counter in it) and this is physical pages (it scans both sides at the same time if I select duplex but the page count is the same whether it is simplex or duplex). I purchased a used HP 8350 scanner that came with the original software (important because it would be expensive otherwise). It basically converted everything to PDF and OCR'ed it. The OCRing is important because it make your records electronically searchable. I can much more easily find stuff now. If you have a fast duplex scanner it really isn't all that time consuming. I would just load up the scanner and let it run as I was around the house. I would reload as I walked by the scanner. Doing it on and off in my spare time I did most of the scanning in a couple of months. Very easy and cost effective. My scanner was about $150 used and it had only scanned about 1000 pages before i got it so basically new (it appears to be government surplus). I would totally recommend doing this your self if you have a bit of time and inclination.
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Re: Service that would scan/digitize thousands of pages?

Postby LadyGeek » Thu Dec 20, 2012 10:28 pm

How accurate was the Optical character recognition? From 5.0 Best Practices for Optical Character Recognition:

Most commercial software packages boast an OCR accuracy of between 97% and 99%. These rates are based on character errors, not word errors. So while 97% of characters may be accurate in an OCR'd document, only 75% of words may be spelled correctly. Any of the following factors can also affect the accuracy of the OCR:..
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Re: Service that would scan/digitize thousands of pages?

Postby aja8888 » Thu Dec 20, 2012 11:36 pm

02sbxstr wrote:In terms of retained records, when was the last time you were asked to reproduce one? I'm 63 years old and have never had to do so. If you want to keep tax returns forever, be my guest, but it is most unlikely that anyone will ever ask to see them. As for financial, I don't think Vanguard (or Fidelity, etc.) is going to cook the books on your account, so why keep their records forever? It would be very hard to alter computer records because these records are backed up daily and change these backups would be problematic. I make .pdfs of what I think I would like to retain and back up on carbonite, been doing so for years. Relax.


I'm in your camp ^^^ except for Carbonite backup routine (I use an external drive and also flash memory). I recently went through my old tax records and shredded all the tax returns I had saved from the early 1970's through 2000. Next are the four file drawers full of who knows what? :confused

At work, we use an outside service anytime a client wants up to set up an online dataroom (like Merrill Datasite) for an asset sale/bid process. There are fee services to do this, but pricey. Like some of the previous posters above, there are some great desktop scanners that can handle large quantity of documents well. I believe we (at work) have a small Xerox one that the admins use for our company record archiving purposes.
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Re: Service that would scan/digitize thousands of pages?

Postby Aptenodytes » Fri Dec 21, 2012 8:14 am

THY4373 wrote:I just got done scanning over 20,000 pages (my scanner has a counter in it) and this is physical pages (it scans both sides at the same time if I select duplex but the page count is the same whether it is simplex or duplex). I purchased a used HP 8350 scanner that came with the original software (important because it would be expensive otherwise). It basically converted everything to PDF and OCR'ed it. The OCRing is important because it make your records electronically searchable. I can much more easily find stuff now. If you have a fast duplex scanner it really isn't all that time consuming. I would just load up the scanner and let it run as I was around the house. I would reload as I walked by the scanner. Doing it on and off in my spare time I did most of the scanning in a couple of months. Very easy and cost effective. My scanner was about $150 used and it had only scanned about 1000 pages before i got it so basically new (it appears to be government surplus). I would totally recommend doing this your self if you have a bit of time and inclination.

+1
I have done this with a new Fujitsu ScanSnap and been very happy. The advantage of doing it yourself, once you get over the initial hump, is that you can easily scan new incoming documents.
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Re: Service that would scan/digitize thousands of pages?

Postby THY4373 » Fri Dec 21, 2012 8:18 am

Aptenodytes wrote:+1
I have done this with a new Fujitsu ScanSnap and been very happy. The advantage of doing it yourself, once you get over the initial hump, is that you can easily scan new incoming documents.


Agreed I scan anything new that comes in during the week over the weekend while having my coffee and reading this site and others. It is so much easier than filing which I tended to put off until I had a major pile of stuff and which then took me a couple of hours to do. The Fujitsus are definitely better for document scanning than the HP I got but I wanted to do photos/negatives so I needed a flatbed scanner since I did not want to get two scanners.
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Re: Service that would scan/digitize thousands of pages?

Postby Aptenodytes » Fri Dec 21, 2012 8:21 am

LadyGeek wrote:How accurate was the Optical character recognition? From 5.0 Best Practices for Optical Character Recognition:

Most commercial software packages boast an OCR accuracy of between 97% and 99%. These rates are based on character errors, not word errors. So while 97% of characters may be accurate in an OCR'd document, only 75% of words may be spelled correctly. Any of the following factors can also affect the accuracy of the OCR:..

In my experience the accuracy has been extremely good, though I haven't felt a need to do a quantitative test. I can't recall searching for a document that I knew had been scanned and not being able to find it. I definitely recall running searches and getting hits on handwritten documents that were OCRed accurately, which was a pleasant surprise.

Anyway, any degree of random-access searching is a step up over a stack of papers. And I can always browse them manually, analogously to the way one pores over paper, if I think I can find something better that way. Browsing large thumbnails of the PDFs is a fairly efficient way to locate something.

If you use Evernote, as I do, you have the option of letting Evernote do the OCR for you, which speeds up the processing because the OCR takes place asynchronously.
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Re: Service that would scan/digitize thousands of pages?

Postby THY4373 » Fri Dec 21, 2012 8:25 am

LadyGeek wrote:How accurate was the Optical character recognition? From 5.0 Best Practices for Optical Character Recognition:

Most commercial software packages boast an OCR accuracy of between 97% and 99%. These rates are based on character errors, not word errors. So while 97% of characters may be accurate in an OCR'd document, only 75% of words may be spelled correctly. Any of the following factors can also affect the accuracy of the OCR:..


I don't know the accuracy of the program I use but at the word level it has to be way better than 75% because I have never yet run into a problem in any of my modern records. The software I use puts an invisible layer of text over the scanned in image so you still have everything even if the OCR has a bad day. I have cut and pasted a fair amount of this invisible text into emails and the like and have not noted any errors. The only place I have seen issues is where I have scanned in old genealogy texts from books my dad had "xerox" copies of microfiche from the Library of Congress. The text was in pretty bad shape so the OCR did have issues but again you still have the original scanned image to read. So at least in my case errors in OCR are not fatal but I agree I would not want to rely on the OCR'ed text alone.

Edit: And just to add my scanner and its software is at least five years old so hardly state of the art these days. I suspect if I wanted to pony up for some new software it might even be better but it works very well for me in any case.
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Re: Service that would scan/digitize thousands of pages?

Postby mlipps » Fri Dec 21, 2012 10:57 am

Depending on what your office culture is like, you could probably just go in on a Saturday sometime & do it there for free. Our office scanner lets you put a USB drive in and scan things directly to it.
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Re: Service that would scan/digitize thousands of pages?

Postby Sidney » Fri Dec 21, 2012 11:31 am

mlipps wrote:Depending on what your office culture is like, you could probably just go in on a Saturday sometime & do it there for free. Our office scanner lets you put a USB drive in and scan things directly to it.

Keep in mind that many high volume devices use hard drives to store the digitized image before it is either sent somewhere (often email) or printed. The image may remain on the device when you walk away.
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Re: Service that would scan/digitize thousands of pages?

Postby THY4373 » Fri Dec 21, 2012 12:10 pm

mlipps wrote:Depending on what your office culture is like, you could probably just go in on a Saturday sometime & do it there for free. Our office scanner lets you put a USB drive in and scan things directly to it.


For mass scanning like OP appears to need I'd probably ask for permission as scanning 1000s of pages is a little different than some incidental personal use no matter what the culture is. And as previously mentioned there is potentially a leakage risk as well.
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Re: Service that would scan/digitize thousands of pages?

Postby Jay69 » Fri Dec 21, 2012 3:49 pm

Pick up a Fujitsus scanner, crazy fast and simple to use. It will detect single and double side sheets and toss out the blank ones. Check out Newegg and read up on them.

I will toss a 50 page spec in the thing at it just works.
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Re: Service that would scan/digitize thousands of pages?

Postby Jay69 » Fri Dec 21, 2012 3:51 pm

THY4373 wrote:
mlipps wrote:Depending on what your office culture is like, you could probably just go in on a Saturday sometime & do it there for free. Our office scanner lets you put a USB drive in and scan things directly to it.


For mass scanning like OP appears to need I'd probably ask for permission as scanning 1000s of pages is a little different than some incidental personal use no matter what the culture is. And as previously mentioned there is potentially a leakage risk as well.


This is a option as well, matter of fact we let our guys take home the scanner over the weekend for personal use. small office!
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Re: Service that would scan/digitize thousands of pages?

Postby steve88 » Fri Dec 21, 2012 8:01 pm

many poster here mention fugitsu scanner, but which one to get?
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Re: Service that would scan/digitize thousands of pages?

Postby Jay69 » Fri Dec 21, 2012 8:24 pm

steve88 wrote:many poster here mention fugitsu scanner, but which one to get?



This is the one that we use

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16838115052

It does come with a full version of Adobe Acrobat X Standard if you need it as well.

I found it on Slickdeals when we bought it, it did come from Newegg for $350 or something close to it.

If you look around you will see them being used in medical clinics, lawyers offices etc. We use it in a enginnering office.
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Re: Service that would scan/digitize thousands of pages?

Postby OAG » Sat Dec 22, 2012 2:19 pm

02sbxstr wrote:In terms of retained records, when was the last time you were asked to reproduce one? I'm 63 years old and have never had to do so. If you want to keep tax returns forever, be my guest, but it is most unlikely that anyone will ever ask to see them. As for financial, I don't think Vanguard (or Fidelity, etc.) is going to cook the books on your account, so why keep their records forever? It would be very hard to alter computer records because these records are backed up daily and change these backups would be problematic. I make .pdfs of what I think I would like to retain and back up on carbonite, been doing so for years. Relax.


+1 - 72/75 here - same experiences.
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