Scanning Documents for Long Term Storage

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dbc47
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Scanning Documents for Long Term Storage

Post by dbc47 » Wed Sep 06, 2017 2:22 pm

I've been the Executor/Trustee for two of my relatives (Father & Aunt) who passed away during the past year. I'm finally within striking distance of finalizing everything for both but I now have a large two drawer fire proof file cabinet filled with their documents e.g. old tax returns, insurance papers, banking records, etc. I know I should probably hold on to these records but don't know for how long. I plan on checking with the attorney and accountant who have helped me through this process regarding that. However, I'd like to free up the space all of these documents are taking up, but want to keep the information secure at the same time.
I'm looking on Amazon for "high speed" scanners that might help me with this. Plus I'm not sure of the wisdom of even taking on such a project. I could store all the scanned files on my external hard drives I keep in my safe, but would also consider storing the files in the Cloud, such as Google Drive. Regardless of which Cloud company I end up with I'm still leery of having all this sensitive information floating around out there. I'm not overly technical so I'm not familiar with encryption methods, etc.
I'm trying to keep it simple if that's possible?

If anyone has any recommendations on scanners that would be helpful too.

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flamesabers
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Re: Scanning Documents for Long Term Storage

Post by flamesabers » Wed Sep 06, 2017 2:27 pm

Hello,

Here's a scanner thread I created a few months ago:

viewtopic.php?t=221030

Here's the scanner I decided on:

https://www.amazon.com/Brother-ADS1500W ... B00EKW6JZ4

I connect a flash drive directly to the scanner and then I transfer the files to an external hard drive.

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dual
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Re: Scanning Documents for Long Term Storage

Post by dual » Wed Sep 06, 2017 2:40 pm

dbc47 wrote:
Wed Sep 06, 2017 2:22 pm
I could store all the scanned files on my external hard drives I keep in my safe, but would also consider storing the files in the Cloud, such as Google Drive. Regardless of which Cloud company I end up with I'm still leery of having all this sensitive information floating around out there. I'm not overly technical so I'm not familiar with encryption methods, etc.
I'm trying to keep it simple if that's possible?

If anyone has any recommendations on scanners that would be helpful too.
I think putting the information on an online depository is a good idea if you encrypt it first. I use Veracrypt an open source program hence open to be inspected by savvy users for shenanigans.

As for scanners, I like the Fujitsu ScanSnap S1300i (they may have a newer version). Reliable, fast and it scans 2 sided.

Organizing your data is important. Place the files in directories in some scheme that makes sense to you.

I think running optical character recognition software on the files so you can search within the files and also with a proper program find files with specified content is a good idea.

123
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Re: Scanning Documents for Long Term Storage

Post by 123 » Wed Sep 06, 2017 7:51 pm

In dealing with the estates of a couple of family members over the years I have just boxed the documents and put them in the back corner of one of our closets. One set has been there for 8 years, the other 5 years. Once the assets are distributed and any tax forms filed no one seems to care. If anyone disputes/questions anything it is most likely to happen relatively soon (within a year or two) after the death. It would seem to be an onerous process to scan everything, even if you send it out to be scanned. Dealing with scanned documents images can make it more difficult to find anything since naming/foldering conventions are critical.
The closest helping hand is at the end of your own arm.

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dbc47
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Re: Scanning Documents for Long Term Storage

Post by dbc47 » Wed Sep 06, 2017 8:11 pm

My thinking, right or wrong, was to scan their past tax returns which are about 10 years apiece. Most of the supporting documents are not available, but the returns seem to be complete. Some items may not be suitable to being easily scanned such as life insurance policies, but I may be able to at least compress things by 50% or more. I'll have to check with the attorney and CPA to get some additional guidance on how long to keep the records.

Thanks everyone for your feedback.

seamonkey
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Re: Scanning Documents for Long Term Storage

Post by seamonkey » Wed Sep 06, 2017 8:32 pm

I used the Fujitsu ix500 to scan the entirety of the paper archive. It was awesomely effective at digitizing many years of papers.

Then I shred everything using a Fellowes Powershred 79Ci. This was a pretty quiet shredder (comparatively).

Finally, the shred got composted. I trust our worms not to steal our identities.

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dbc47
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Re: Scanning Documents for Long Term Storage

Post by dbc47 » Wed Sep 06, 2017 9:27 pm

seamonkey wrote:
Wed Sep 06, 2017 8:32 pm
I used the Fujitsu ix500 to scan the entirety of the paper archive. It was awesomely effective at digitizing many years of papers.

Then I shred everything using a Fellowes Powershred 79Ci. This was a pretty quiet shredder (comparatively).

Finally, the shred got composted. I trust our worms not to steal our identities.
May I ask how you stored all the scanned files? External hard drives, cloud?

AlohaJoe
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Re: Scanning Documents for Long Term Storage

Post by AlohaJoe » Wed Sep 06, 2017 9:29 pm

dbc47 wrote:
Wed Sep 06, 2017 2:22 pm
If anyone has any recommendations on scanners that would be helpful too.
Depending on the number of documents you have, I would consider looking into a scanning service. https://www.shoeboxed.com/features/ is one I know of (but haven't used). You mail them a box of papers and they do all the work for you. It costs money but...as executor of an estate those are the kinds of costs you should be charging the estate.

I have scanned a large number of things (>20 books) and it took me weeks (not continually, obviously). It just isn't very much fun to feed some sheets into a scanner, make sure things don't get clogged, save the files, etc. In my case I uploaded everything to Evernote, which is also where all of my tax returns are kept.

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Ice-9
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Re: Scanning Documents for Long Term Storage

Post by Ice-9 » Wed Sep 06, 2017 9:53 pm

dual wrote:
Wed Sep 06, 2017 2:40 pm
I think putting the information on an online depository is a good idea if you encrypt it first. I use Veracrypt an open source program hence open to be inspected by savvy users for shenanigans.
+1 for creating an encrypted Veracrypt container in your cloud folder. Straightforward instructions for first-timers here: https://veracrypt.codeplex.com/wikipage ... 20Tutorial

seamonkey
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Re: Scanning Documents for Long Term Storage

Post by seamonkey » Thu Sep 07, 2017 10:53 pm

dbc47 wrote:
Wed Sep 06, 2017 9:27 pm
May I ask how you stored all the scanned files? External hard drives, cloud?
Two external hard drives, one local and one in a safe deposit box.

obgraham
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Re: Scanning Documents for Long Term Storage

Post by obgraham » Fri Sep 08, 2017 12:14 am

Why do you need to keep this stuff? Once the IRS deadlines are passed, I'd pitch the lot. Any business affairs not cleared out by then don't really matter. And the answer then can be "records are gone, sorry." After all, it's not you, they're dead!

We are obsessed with our "records" these days. I still occasionally get someone calling me for their "medical records". It's 17 years since I retired and closed the business. I shredded the lot at 10 years, way longer than I should have hung onto them.

Jillian
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Re: Scanning Documents for Long Term Storage

Post by Jillian » Fri Sep 08, 2017 12:29 pm

I'm sure there are better ways, but I just store things on a thumb drive and have the thumb drive in a safety deposit box in addition to having files on my computer.

I'm still not really trusting of "cloud" type solutions and I don't like the fees.

But ask the attorney how long you should keep them and also take in consideration the possibility of someone coming along and challenging something. If there's a relative out there that could get litigious, might be a good idea to keep them around.

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VictoriaF
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Re: Scanning Documents for Long Term Storage

Post by VictoriaF » Fri Sep 08, 2017 12:45 pm

Jillian wrote:
Fri Sep 08, 2017 12:29 pm
I'm sure there are better ways, but I just store things on a thumb drive and have the thumb drive in a safety deposit box in addition to having files on my computer.

I'm still not really trusting of "cloud" type solutions and I don't like the fees.
A thumb drive in a safe deposit box protects you from a loss of data at home. But a flood may destroy both of your thumb drives.
If the files on your thumb drive are unencrypted someone may steal the data.
If you encrypt your files, you may as well create a backup in the cloud.

Victoria
WINNER of the 2015 Boglehead Contest. | Every joke has a bit of a joke. ... The rest is the truth. (Marat F)

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gasdoc
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Re: Scanning Documents for Long Term Storage

Post by gasdoc » Fri Sep 08, 2017 12:47 pm

Scanned files in three places:
1. Computer hard drive
2. External hard drive
3. "The cloud"

I merely scan it one time, and the data is stored in all three places.

gasdoc

Jillian
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Re: Scanning Documents for Long Term Storage

Post by Jillian » Fri Sep 08, 2017 12:55 pm

VictoriaF wrote:
Fri Sep 08, 2017 12:45 pm
Jillian wrote:
Fri Sep 08, 2017 12:29 pm
I'm sure there are better ways, but I just store things on a thumb drive and have the thumb drive in a safety deposit box in addition to having files on my computer.

I'm still not really trusting of "cloud" type solutions and I don't like the fees.
A thumb drive in a safe deposit box protects you from a loss of data at home. But a flood may destroy both of your thumb drives.
If the files on your thumb drive are unencrypted someone may steal the data.
If you encrypt your files, you may as well create a backup in the cloud.

Victoria
Every form of data storage has positives and negatives.

I happen to think storing sensitive data in the cloud is far more vulnerable to the wrong person having access to it than a thumb drive in a safety deposit box. But that's just me.

Also, see companies like PhotoBucket. They recently took everyone's files and basically are asking for a ransom to have it returned. These companies change owners/business models or simply go bankrupt.

And than there's companies like Equifax that just got hacked that probably have the best security in the world.

I see merit in Cloud storage but it does have some negatives as well.

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VictoriaF
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Re: Scanning Documents for Long Term Storage

Post by VictoriaF » Fri Sep 08, 2017 1:39 pm

Jillian wrote:
Fri Sep 08, 2017 12:55 pm
VictoriaF wrote:
Fri Sep 08, 2017 12:45 pm
Jillian wrote:
Fri Sep 08, 2017 12:29 pm
I'm sure there are better ways, but I just store things on a thumb drive and have the thumb drive in a safety deposit box in addition to having files on my computer.

I'm still not really trusting of "cloud" type solutions and I don't like the fees.
A thumb drive in a safe deposit box protects you from a loss of data at home. But a flood may destroy both of your thumb drives.
If the files on your thumb drive are unencrypted someone may steal the data.
If you encrypt your files, you may as well create a backup in the cloud.

Victoria
Every form of data storage has positives and negatives.

I happen to think storing sensitive data in the cloud is far more vulnerable to the wrong person having access to it than a thumb drive in a safety deposit box. But that's just me.

Also, see companies like PhotoBucket. They recently took everyone's files and basically are asking for a ransom to have it returned. These companies change owners/business models or simply go bankrupt.

And than there's companies like Equifax that just got hacked that probably have the best security in the world.

I see merit in Cloud storage but it does have some negatives as well.
I am not trying to change your mind and I agree that every form of storage has its vulnerabilities. But I want to clarify my earlier point. Cybersecurity is not a set of stand-alone measures, it's an architecture that mitigates various threats and vulnerabilities. For example:

1. Issue: the hard drive fails.
Mitigation: backup data outside the hard drive.

2. Issue: ransomware makes the hard drive and all connected drives unusable.
Mitigation: backup data to drives that are disconnected from your network.

3. Issue: a family member or intruder steals your data.
Mitigation: encrypt sensitive data on the hard drive and all backup drives (external drives, thumb drives, cloud).

4. Issue: the hard drive and home-based backups are stolen or destroyed in fire.
Mitigation: keep copies in a bank safe deposit box and in the cloud.

5. Issue: a flood destroys both your home and your bank where you have a safe deposit box.
Mitigation: keep a copy in the cloud.

6. Issue: breach of security in your cloud provider.
Mitigation: local encryption of sensitive data before you upload it to the cloud.

7. Issue: technical glitch prevents access to your cloud drive.
Mitigation: thumb drive with backup in a bank safe deposit box.

8. Issue: sensitive documents are frequently updated.
Mitigation: update an external drive and cloud drive immediately; update the thumb drive in the bank safe deposit box periodically.


The mitigation of the issues noted above can be reduced to a few actions:
1. Have several copies of your sensitive data: hard drive, external (disconnected) drive, cloud (disconnected) drive, safe deposit box.
2. Encrypt your sensitive data in your hard drive, external drives, and cloud.

Victoria
Last edited by VictoriaF on Fri Sep 08, 2017 1:52 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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objectivefunction
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Re: Scanning Documents for Long Term Storage

Post by objectivefunction » Fri Sep 08, 2017 1:50 pm

Once you have a clear timeline from a lawyer and/or CPA, you'll have a better idea how safe you need to keep them. I would not put them in "the cloud" unencrypted. You could put them on an external drive or thumb drive and store it in your house or a safe deposit box or something. If there is a minuscule chance of a 100-year flood destroying the data, then maybe that's an acceptable risk given timeline and the likelihood that you would ever need the data?

MathWizard
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Re: Scanning Documents for Long Term Storage

Post by MathWizard » Fri Sep 08, 2017 1:53 pm

If it were me,
I'd have Copyworks just scan them onto a USB drive, thus would be cheaper than buying a high-speed scanner, and faster than
using an all-in-one scanner.
You have to remove all staples, and just hand them the stack.

Alternatively, I'd buy an SD card for my digital camera, and just snap photos of each page. I'd make a copy to keep at home in the fireproof safe, and keep a copy of the SD card onto another (or a USB drive), and store the SD card in a plastic case in an envelope
in my safety deposit box.

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Watty
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Re: Scanning Documents for Long Term Storage

Post by Watty » Sat Sep 09, 2017 9:21 am

Thumb drives are not a really good long term storage medium. There is lots of information on that if you Google it.

You should also ask the lawyer if there are any documents that you need original copies of. I would not assume that a scanned image would always be usable if there is a lawsuit or audit.
dbc47 wrote:
Wed Sep 06, 2017 2:22 pm
I could store all the scanned files on my external hard drives I keep in my safe
The way some fireproof safes work is that they have liners that give off lots of water when they get hot so that the contents of the safe get wet and don't burn. That would not be good for a hard drive. I have also had a USB hard drive fail when I did not use it for about two years. I suspect that some mechanical component got stuck after not being used for a long time.

They make archival quality CDs and DVD's that might be a better choice and you could make multiple copies that you could keep in different location so that if one went bad you would still have another copy.

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dbc47
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Re: Scanning Documents for Long Term Storage

Post by dbc47 » Sat Sep 09, 2017 9:36 am

The way some fireproof safes work is that they have liners that give off lots of water when they get hot so that the contents of the safe get wet and don't burn. That would not be good for a hard drive. I have also had a USB hard drive fail when I did not use it for about two years. I suspect that some mechanical component got stuck after not being used for a long time.
Thanks for the info. I have a dehumidifier for my big safe which seems to work well, but you're right about safes giving of moisture during a fire. I've already started the scanning process and so far I'm just concentrating on old tax returns. When those are completed I will tackle scanning just a whole bunch of miscellaneous documents that are just taking up space. Life insurance, Trust documents, and other really important stuff may be scanned later, but will probably keep the originals after speaking with the attorney's office etc.

Putting the scans on a CD or DVD is also a good idea. I've pretty much given up on storing copies in the cloud at the moment.

tibbitts
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Re: Scanning Documents for Long Term Storage

Post by tibbitts » Sat Sep 09, 2017 9:51 am

I guess I would consider CD/DVD already somewhat of a dead format and I think reading it in the future will be similar to reading old computer tape formats today. I haven't found sufficiently convenient encryption for my cloud files so I just selectively encrypt a few files (like account/password info) and don't worry about the rest.

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