Best solution for digitizing documents?

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ermcgrat
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Best solution for digitizing documents?

Post by ermcgrat » Tue Dec 05, 2017 10:58 am

I hate keeping paper records. For 6 years I've been scanning everything with NeatReceipts. It's been a pretty good solution as it really reduces the clutter, and makes it easy to find what you're looking for (as long as you tag/organize your documents appropriately). However, their software has been going through a lot of changes, namely that they want you to use their cloud-based storage now.

I'm just wondering if other people digitize their documents, and what they are using. I see there are some mobile apps where you can just use your camera to "scan" documents. I imagine there are some much better/newer options out there since I started down the Neat path several years ago.

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climber2020
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Re: Best solution for digitizing documents?

Post by climber2020 » Tue Dec 05, 2017 11:06 am

I use the Turboscan app on my iPhone. It's good if you don't have mountains of documents to scan. Since most stuff now is digital, I find that there really aren't too many occasions where I need to scan a physical piece of paper. I don't keep receipts unless it's for something super expensive, and once the warranty runs out, I toss those as well.

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randomizer
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Re: Best solution for digitizing documents?

Post by randomizer » Tue Dec 05, 2017 11:08 am

Scanbot iOS app, syncs to Dropbox.

obgraham
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Re: Best solution for digitizing documents?

Post by obgraham » Tue Dec 05, 2017 11:09 am

I've been scanning almost everything since 2005, and now have little or no paper files. It's the way to go. Organization is the key. I'm now in the process of switching all my magazine subscriptions to digital files.

All my stuff is on my own computer, with multiple backups, rather than "cloud".

Each year gets a folder for its financial records, and a second one for tax information.

Then I have a folder marked "Filing Cabinet". In there are subfolders labeled just as they would be in a filing cabinet drawer. If I scan some new document that has nowhere logical to go, I simply make a new subfolder for it.

I can find any document in my system in much less than a minute.

I save a LOT of stuff, and toss very little. My 13 years of data is now about 10 gigs, and has 11,000 files.

Caduceus
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Re: Best solution for digitizing documents?

Post by Caduceus » Tue Dec 05, 2017 11:10 am

I bought a portable scanner because I don't like the quality of camera scans. Time consuming but I only have half a shelf of papers now.

miamivice
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Re: Best solution for digitizing documents?

Post by miamivice » Tue Dec 05, 2017 11:18 am

I haven't bothered with preserving (digitally or otherwise) documents in nearly a decade. My wife many years ago pointed out that I wasted a lot of time filing everything, so I started shredding paper documents. Eventually I opted in to receiving electronic documents for everything and no longer receive anything that needs to be preserved.

There are just a handful of items that I still need to preserve but paper copies are fine for that.

Now that we live in an electronic world, I figure that any record I might need later can be retrieved.

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Ethelred
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Re: Best solution for digitizing documents?

Post by Ethelred » Tue Dec 05, 2017 11:21 am

I've been looking into this recently, though have yet to spend the money and get started. Our filing cabinet is nearly full of old financial documents.

The current plan is to download Duplicati as back-up software (free), and back-up firstly, to a local hard drive (that I already own) and secondly, encrypted, to Google Drive (free up to 15GB). The main cost will be the scanner, and I can't decide if I can justify spending $420 on the Fujitsu Scansnap ix500. I will be following this thread with interest to hear other suggestions.

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Ethelred
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Re: Best solution for digitizing documents?

Post by Ethelred » Tue Dec 05, 2017 11:27 am

miamivice wrote:
Tue Dec 05, 2017 11:18 am
I haven't bothered with preserving (digitally or otherwise) documents in nearly a decade. My wife many years ago pointed out that I wasted a lot of time filing everything, so I started shredding paper documents. Eventually I opted in to receiving electronic documents for everything and no longer receive anything that needs to be preserved.

There are just a handful of items that I still need to preserve but paper copies are fine for that.

Now that we live in an electronic world, I figure that any record I might need later can be retrieved.
The problem comes when financial institutions only retain documents for a limited time. For some of them, this is surprisingly short.

WageSlave
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Re: Best solution for digitizing documents?

Post by WageSlave » Tue Dec 05, 2017 11:49 am

obgraham wrote:
Tue Dec 05, 2017 11:09 am
I've been scanning almost everything since 2005, and now have little or no paper files. It's the way to go. Organization is the key. I'm now in the process of switching all my magazine subscriptions to digital files.

All my stuff is on my own computer, with multiple backups, rather than "cloud".

[ ... snip ... ]
I use pretty much the exact same process. Only thing I'd add (to the OP) is that you want a document scanner, not a flatbad scanner. The document scanner had a feeder like a copy machine---it's a million times faster than loading pages one a time into a flatbed scanner or taking pics with your phone. I use a Fujitsu ScanSnap s1500. It's served me well for over a decade. But there are many options.

As long as you have a sane organizational structure, you can be a "digital packrat" or "digital hoarder". Documents don't really occupy much storage space, relative to what storage space costs.

After scanning, I make sure my backups have run, then I shred all the paper documents.

Ethelred wrote:
Tue Dec 05, 2017 11:27 am
The problem comes when financial institutions only retain documents for a limited time. For some of them, this is surprisingly short.
I regularly download important documents from institutions for which I've gone "paperless" (which is basically all that offer it). I store these documents in the same (digital) folder structure as my scans of paper documents. It's one giant digital filing cabinet.

billthecat
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Re: Best solution for digitizing documents?

Post by billthecat » Tue Dec 05, 2017 12:03 pm

Fujitsu ScanSnap (to scan) and then PDFPenPro (to OCR). Some moved to specific folders using Hazel (based on account numbers). All automatic.

I hate paper and do what I can to eliminate it.

And it drives me nuts when other people will print something and then scan it so they can email it to me. <scream> :oops:

2015
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Re: Best solution for digitizing documents?

Post by 2015 » Tue Dec 05, 2017 1:08 pm

billthecat wrote:
Tue Dec 05, 2017 12:03 pm
Fujitsu ScanSnap (to scan) and then PDFPenPro (to OCR). Some moved to specific folders using Hazel (based on account numbers). All automatic.

I hate paper and do what I can to eliminate it.

And it drives me nuts when other people will print something and then scan it so they can email it to me. <scream> :oops:
+1t's for this reason I dread going to the mailbox. Invariably, despite electing electronic notifications everywhere, some *#^!@ institution will send me paper via mail (to be added to the "to shred" pile).

I scanned all of my documents over a year ago, and maintain virtually no paper files. In fact, for the past year I've been migrating from my old analog life of owning physical "stuff" of any kind to accessing it in digital form based upon need. I've been getting rid of everything from furniture, to electronics (e.g., stereo, television, clocks, etc) , luggage, physical files, safes, or excess of any kind. Freedom from the ball and chain of clunky, obese, space hoarding stuff, particularly paper, is absolutely liberating.

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Ethelred
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Re: Best solution for digitizing documents?

Post by Ethelred » Tue Dec 05, 2017 1:59 pm

WageSlave wrote:
Tue Dec 05, 2017 11:49 am
I regularly download important documents from institutions for which I've gone "paperless" (which is basically all that offer it). I store these documents in the same (digital) folder structure as my scans of paper documents. It's one giant digital filing cabinet.
Agreed, that's my plan, too. But it doesn't sound like miamivice, who I quoted, is intending to download the files.

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Top99%
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Re: Best solution for digitizing documents?

Post by Top99% » Wed Dec 06, 2017 8:46 am

There is lots of good advice on how to scan your documents. The only thing I will add is for critical documents (or priceless family photographs for that matter) keep one copy either in the cloud or off site. For the latter, a pair of cheap external drives employed with this strategy works well:
1) Initially make backups onto drives 1 and 2 and store them off site (work, friend's house, safe deposit box)
2) When you have new files to backup take drive 1 home, backup and then return to off site storage. Put a sticky note on drive 2 so you will remember it is next in the rotation.
3) Now when you have new files to back up repeat 2) except swap drive 1 for drive 2
4) rinse and repeat when you need to do backups
The idea is to always have at least 1 copy of your files off site to protect against fires, floods, or theft. Also, if you have really sensitive data on the drives you might want to encrypt them.
Adapt or perish

AntsOnTheMarch
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Re: Best solution for digitizing documents?

Post by AntsOnTheMarch » Wed Dec 06, 2017 9:02 am

iOS 11 now scans documents directly from the notes app. No 3rd party app needed. The result is a pdf which can be stored in notes, iCloud, or any other cloud account (Dropbox, google drive, etc). You can also file any downloads from your online accounts in the same places—so you can roll your own filing and redundancy scheme. A simple back up scheme would be to copy the iCloud files onto your computer’s hard drive. Assuming you have a back up routine for it, they will get backed up multiple times as well as being on the cloud.

Monster99
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Re: Best solution for digitizing documents?

Post by Monster99 » Wed Dec 06, 2017 10:03 am

I use a HP multi-function printer to scan documents - it has a sheet feeder that can stack uptp 20 to 25 pages and it can do pdf, gif ect. formats. I bought it for less than 100 bucks and it will even fax...😁

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lthenderson
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Re: Best solution for digitizing documents?

Post by lthenderson » Wed Dec 06, 2017 10:07 am

I thought scanning receipts went the way of the cassette tape.

I only save those big ticket items where I might have a warranty concerns and frankly those could fit easily in an envelope. Doesn't seem worth the time or expense of scanning. All my financial records I can look up online. Anything I have to keep for taxes get stuck in a folder until I do my taxes and get ditched after the required three years, 7 if I claimed a loss.

MindTheGAAP
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Re: Best solution for digitizing documents?

Post by MindTheGAAP » Wed Dec 06, 2017 10:13 am

Ethelred wrote:
Tue Dec 05, 2017 11:21 am
I've been looking into this recently, though have yet to spend the money and get started. Our filing cabinet is nearly full of old financial documents.

The current plan is to download Duplicati as back-up software (free), and back-up firstly, to a local hard drive (that I already own) and secondly, encrypted, to Google Drive (free up to 15GB). The main cost will be the scanner, and I can't decide if I can justify spending $420 on the Fujitsu Scansnap ix500. I will be following this thread with interest to hear other suggestions.
We looked at the ScanSnap and we decided to go with Doxie Q for the price. I've since used a ScanSnap at work and it's an impressive scanner but we don't scan THAT much now that the initial motherload is digitized. The Doxie does a good job and the bonus is it's portable since it is battery powered (but can be plugged in).
"One of the funny things about the stock market is that every time one person buys, another sells, and both think they are astute" - William Feather

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Ethelred
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Re: Best solution for digitizing documents?

Post by Ethelred » Wed Dec 06, 2017 11:05 am

MindTheGAAP wrote:
Wed Dec 06, 2017 10:13 am
We looked at the ScanSnap and we decided to go with Doxie Q for the price. I've since used a ScanSnap at work and it's an impressive scanner but we don't scan THAT much now that the initial motherload is digitized. The Doxie does a good job and the bonus is it's portable since it is battery powered (but can be plugged in).
Thanks, that's useful info.

I ended up buying the Epson ES-400 yesterday for $280 instead, which still seems expensive, but much better value.
https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/ ... ument.html
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01M4NANZ6

It doesn't review as well as the Fujitsu, but part of that seems to be the quality of Epson's own OCR software. It comes bundled with Abbyy Finereader Sprint, which is supposed to be excellent, so it should work out fine.

obgraham
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Re: Best solution for digitizing documents?

Post by obgraham » Wed Dec 06, 2017 12:12 pm

It doesn't review as well as the Fujitsu, but part of that seems to be the quality of Epson's own OCR software.
I think you'll be happy with the Epson -- their scanning software is very good, and to me more flexible than Canon's. (HP's we won't mention!)

However, if you scan your paper documents to pdf's, I've never understood the need for OCR software.

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Ethelred
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Re: Best solution for digitizing documents?

Post by Ethelred » Wed Dec 06, 2017 12:45 pm

obgraham wrote:
Wed Dec 06, 2017 12:12 pm
It doesn't review as well as the Fujitsu, but part of that seems to be the quality of Epson's own OCR software.
I think you'll be happy with the Epson -- their scanning software is very good, and to me more flexible than Canon's. (HP's we won't mention!)

However, if you scan your paper documents to pdf's, I've never understood the need for OCR software.
Maybe I misunderstand the details, but I'll be scanning to searchable pdf, so I can use search and so avoid having to categorize every document manually. To me that requires OCR software.

Capsu78
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Re: Best solution for digitizing documents?

Post by Capsu78 » Wed Dec 06, 2017 3:00 pm

Top99% wrote:
Wed Dec 06, 2017 8:46 am
There is lots of good advice on how to scan your documents. The only thing I will add is for critical documents (or priceless family photographs for that matter) keep one copy either in the cloud or off site. For the latter, a pair of cheap external drives employed with this strategy works well:
1) Initially make backups onto drives 1 and 2 and store them off site (work, friend's house, safe deposit box)
2) When you have new files to backup take drive 1 home, backup and then return to off site storage. Put a sticky note on drive 2 so you will remember it is next in the rotation.
3) Now when you have new files to back up repeat 2) except swap drive 1 for drive 2
4) rinse and repeat when you need to do backups
The idea is to always have at least 1 copy of your files off site to protect against fires, floods, or theft. Also, if you have really sensitive data on the drives you might want to encrypt them.
I do pretty much the same, but 1 small trick that helped speed the back up process was buying 3 identical HD back ups from Costco that all have the same power/ cable connectors... I swap out one and just plug the other into the existing wiring...no digging under the desk etc. Keep one next to my computer, keep one in the safe and one at my daughters house, plus a separate hard drive built into my computer for all my photos and scans. I manage 117,000 images and scans, so I want plenty of redundancy. I lost my first 6 months of digital photos in the "Great Computer Crash" of 2007 and vowed I would never be crashed out again.

JimmyD
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Re: Best solution for digitizing documents?

Post by JimmyD » Wed Dec 06, 2017 3:15 pm

Scan anything important to Google Drive via phone. Works perfectly.

Theseus
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Re: Best solution for digitizing documents?

Post by Theseus » Wed Dec 06, 2017 3:32 pm

Ethelred wrote:
Tue Dec 05, 2017 11:27 am
miamivice wrote:
Tue Dec 05, 2017 11:18 am
I haven't bothered with preserving (digitally or otherwise) documents in nearly a decade. My wife many years ago pointed out that I wasted a lot of time filing everything, so I started shredding paper documents. Eventually I opted in to receiving electronic documents for everything and no longer receive anything that needs to be preserved.

There are just a handful of items that I still need to preserve but paper copies are fine for that.

Now that we live in an electronic world, I figure that any record I might need later can be retrieved.
The problem comes when financial institutions only retain documents for a limited time. For some of them, this is surprisingly short.
I agree. Case in point? When I moved my accounts from E*Trade to Fidelity in 2004, I thought it would have transferred the cost basis. At least that's what my Fidelity agent said. So I didn't take a print out of cost basis. Well it didn't get transferred. And a month later when I noticed and called E*Trade they said they don't keep that information for the accounts that are closed.

Luckily, I always insist on paper statements (weird for an IT guy :-) ) as I don't trust technology to bail me out in a jam. And just two hours ago I was able to reconstruct all my cost basis from old E*trade statements.

hirlaw
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Re: Best solution for digitizing documents?

Post by hirlaw » Thu Dec 07, 2017 12:00 pm

I am looking at different services to store documents. I am thinking of Box. Does anyone have any experience or comments regarding Box.

Thanks!

gotester2000
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Re: Best solution for digitizing documents?

Post by gotester2000 » Thu Dec 07, 2017 1:16 pm

Monster99 wrote:
Wed Dec 06, 2017 10:03 am
I use a HP multi-function printer to scan documents - it has a sheet feeder that can stack uptp 20 to 25 pages and it can do pdf, gif ect. formats. I bought it for less than 100 bucks and it will even fax...😁
Same here - using a cheap HP multifunction - I am a software guy. The easiest thing to do is to not buy any other software or service. The only hobby I have is to minimize - whatever docs are important sits on a small memory card which is duplicated for back up. I purge unneeded docs. I do not keep anything personal on any gadget - work or home. No fear of others using it nor its safety - my gadgets are like dumb terminals - use and throw without personal storage and with complete peace of mind!

Almost there
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Re: Best solution for digitizing documents?

Post by Almost there » Thu Dec 07, 2017 2:58 pm

How long does one keep scanned documents?

For example:
1. Back in 2009 I transferred funds from Fidelity to Vanguard
2. Back in 2010, my employers changed from Mass Mutual to Principal for the 401(K). Then later in the year, I left the company and transferred all funds to Vanguard.

I do have an Excel spreadsheet where all changes/additions are noted.

AntsOnTheMarch
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Re: Best solution for digitizing documents?

Post by AntsOnTheMarch » Thu Dec 07, 2017 4:44 pm

Almost there wrote:
Thu Dec 07, 2017 2:58 pm
How long does one keep scanned documents?

For example:
1. Back in 2009 I transferred funds from Fidelity to Vanguard
2. Back in 2010, my employers changed from Mass Mutual to Principal for the 401(K). Then later in the year, I left the company and transferred all funds to Vanguard.

I do have an Excel spreadsheet where all changes/additions are noted.
Last time I purged paper docs was when we downsized. Some of the stuff was almost 30 years old. Since downsizing to an apartment and going digital, I see no reason for purging. Hard disk space (and now cloud storage) is so cheap that I question the value of even sorting through old docs. PDFs don’t take up much space at all. Chances are some file formats may become obsolete or files become unreadable or corrupted down the road though.

obgraham
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Re: Best solution for digitizing documents?

Post by obgraham » Fri Dec 08, 2017 1:24 am

(All electronic guy, again.)

Purging the old stuff is more trouble than it is worth. I just ledave it there. And since my filing system tells me it's old, I ignore it.

I download and keep all my investment statements (all Vanguard now) quarterly, and monthly bank statements. Sure, they're available online. But you never know when that might change. Example: I like the check "image" if I made a donation by check. Used to be easy to get, but now CapOne360 has eliminated it. But I already have the copies I want.

beingzero
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Re: Best solution for digitizing documents?

Post by beingzero » Fri Dec 08, 2017 8:41 am

Scanner Pro by Readdle is an awesome app that can save to a bunch of places including dropbox, Gdrive etc. Try it out you will love it. No need to buy expensive scanners.

Edit: My crisp response sounded like I work for them but no :-). So I am editing my response. I have been using that app for the last 6 months and has made my life a lot simpler. No need to position the paper in a particular way, no need for a clean background etc to snap pic. The software recognizes the paper area and grabs only that part even if the background is a cluttered mess like my office desk.

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