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Ask Slashdot: How To Go Paperless At Home?

timothy posted more than 2 years ago | from the zippo-would-like-to-help dept.

Input Devices 311

THE_WELL_HUNG_OYSTER writes "Over the years, I've had numerous scanners equipped with automatic document feeders — and all of them jam or grab multiple pages at a time (thereby missing pages). Like you, I've got years of tax returns and legal documents to scan, but with these kinds of barriers, it would take months to scan everything. Enterprise-grade machines cost 5 figures. How do Slashdotters become paper-free?"

cancel ×

311 comments

Evernote (5, Informative)

xanadu113 (657977) | more than 2 years ago | (#39005751)

Try using Evernote [evernote.com] and scan as you go, keeping up on all current items. Do extra ones when you have the time.

Re:Evernote (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39005765)

Better yet, use the roundfile. 99.999% of all paperwork doesn't need to exist, much less be saved digitally. Even tax documents sunset in just a few years.

Re:Evernote (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39005809)

What they both said:

Scan as you go.
Toss/shred stuff not really needed.
And sign-up for electronic delivery: most of my tax documents are online in PDF format from the various entities. As well as all my monthly statements, canceled checks, etc.

Re:Evernote (5, Informative)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 2 years ago | (#39006075)

Plus, most companies are quite happy to deliver electronically, since it saves them money. Check with your delivery companies, they might even offer a discount if you go paperless.

You don't have to BUY a machine (5, Insightful)

chronosan (1109639) | more than 2 years ago | (#39005755)

Find someone who'll rent one to you.

Re:You don't have to BUY a machine (2)

Green Salad (705185) | more than 2 years ago | (#39006103)

or, work for a well-equipped firm. Ask to come in one weekend to use their enterprise-grade machine. Avoid the build-up with a consumer-grade machine.

Re:You don't have to BUY a machine (2)

peragrin (659227) | more than 2 years ago | (#39006167)

Or simply make it a new resolution, and know that you have to keep the paper version for five years and ignore the past.

seriously I have been mostly paper free for 5 years now. I have hard copies of stuff that I need to, but if your just storing it, two digital copies stored in different locations works much better, I have 13 years of electronically filed PDF tax returns.

Paper work has little meaning if you don't want it too.

Re:You don't have to BUY a machine (3, Informative)

SkimTony (245337) | more than 2 years ago | (#39006267)

I'll second this. My office has a networked Xerox Multi-function, and it handles scan-to-pdf very nicely, depositing a PDF in my inbox. Since I'm not using any paper or toner (as I would if I were making copies at the office) no one cares if I stay a few minutes late to run a sheaf or two through the scanner.

Out source (5, Funny)

NEDHead (1651195) | more than 2 years ago | (#39005757)

to China

Re:Out source (3, Insightful)

Eponymous Coward (6097) | more than 2 years ago | (#39006421)

Not sure why you've been marked as troll, but there are services that will do this for you. Send them a box of paperwork and a couple of weeks later you get access to everything as searchable pdf files.

Fujitsu ScanSnap or similar (5, Interesting)

introp (980163) | more than 2 years ago | (#39005763)

A sheet-feeder duplex scanner that'll scan and OCR to a PDF. Drop in your year of bank statements, press the button, come back in five minutes. Scan your receipts, product manuals, whatever you actually use. Throw out everything else.

Re:Fujitsu ScanSnap or similar (5, Informative)

Alan Shutko (5101) | more than 2 years ago | (#39005779)

This is the simple answer. This scanner actually works, unlike other ones I've tried. Multifunction printers with scanners, or flatbeds with a document feeder are all much slower and much more prone to jamming. The Scansnap rarely jams but when it does, it tells you and lets you fix it. It hardly ever grabs multiple pages at once, but when it does, it can notice it (mine has an ultrasonic sensor) and will let you fix it immediately.

I've scanned some 10k sheets with mine (not pages, as a double-sided document counts as 1 sheet but two pages). It works extremely well.

Re:Fujitsu ScanSnap or similar (4, Informative)

lhaeh (463179) | more than 2 years ago | (#39005805)

Yup, the Fujitsu ScanSnap 1500M is amazing. Never jams, great OCR software, VERY fast.

Check out the great reviews on Amazon [amazon.com]

You can just toss in receipts and odd sized documents, handles them all fine.

Re:Fujitsu ScanSnap or similar (1)

kanweg (771128) | more than 2 years ago | (#39006051)

I have one of those and the programmer should be shot. Make that at least a dozen of times. After each scan I have to make half a dozen of mouse clicks to get ready for the next scan. Close the floating window. Then it asks me whether I want to throw away the last scan. Why would I want that? And why is it the default? Then you have to go to the dock, right-click (not an ordinary click), select the proper menu item to get the floating window again. AAARrrrrrggghhh.

What it does a nice job at is recognizing single sided and double sided, as well as orientation. OK, deduct two bullets.

Bert

Re:Fujitsu ScanSnap or similar (5, Informative)

jrkotrla (690946) | more than 2 years ago | (#39006351)

As an owner and avid fan of the ScanSnap S1500, I tell you: "Read the manual" (or at least the help files)

You can configure as you like, but on mine I press the blue magic button and I have a PDF file stored on my HDD in a folder I have preselected. This PDF is named according to the naming convention I have selected, and is later OCR'd when my computer is idle, as I have selected. No other selection boxes pop up and I don't have to click on anything at all on my computer. Just the one blue button.

That's why the Scansnap is magic

Photos? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39005849)

Is the Fujitsu SnapScan any good at scanning a stack of glossy photographs? I've got thousands of old glossy prints I want to digitise, but the last sheet-feed scanner I tried couldn't cope with these, and flatbed is too slow.

Re:Fujitsu ScanSnap or similar (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39006065)

The others posting about the ScanSnap S1500 are spot-on. I can't find any Linux drivers that work for it but as long as you have Windows or a Mac you don't need to worry about it.

Re:Fujitsu ScanSnap or similar (3, Informative)

puck01 (207782) | more than 2 years ago | (#39006095)

I'll agree with this. It just works and does so quickly.

Add a good shredder and a secure redundant storage system and you're good to go.

Which Fujitsu ScanSnap? (1)

walterbyrd (182728) | more than 2 years ago | (#39006353)

There seems to be many models.

http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss/185-9740896-4241560?url=search-alias%3Delectronics&field-keywords=Fujitsu+ScanSnap&x=10&y=19

Re:Fujitsu ScanSnap or similar (1)

swalve (1980968) | more than 2 years ago | (#39006407)

I have an Officejet 6500. Its scanner works fine. You just have to clean the separation pad and rollers pretty often. I scanned a bunch of my old stuff just with the built in Windows scanning software, and converted to PDF later. Seemed easier. More importantly, I have NEVER had to use a single file that I created. So I don't worry too much about it. I'll just delete the folders in a few years.

For ongoing stuff, almost all my bills have websites where I can download PDFs of my bills, and I just save those. For other stuff, I just print to PDF. I keep each year's stuff in a separate folder, and name the files like 2012 01 January Mortgage.pdf By printing to PDF and saving PDFs, there is almost nothing I actually have to manually scan anymore.

For my taxes, the IRS forms are almost all available from their website as fill-in forms, and I just fill them in and save them with the info. (Being paranoid, I also print them out and keep them in a file.)

Outsource it. (3, Informative)

Fished (574624) | more than 2 years ago | (#39005767)

Lots of places will scan documents for you on professional-grade scanners, including your local Kinko's. Sometimes, you don't save money by trying to do it yourself -- like when you keep buying another cheap scanner at a couple hundred a pop to avoid getting it done professionally.

Re:Outsource it. (5, Insightful)

mj1856 (589031) | more than 2 years ago | (#39005989)

Why the hell would you give the guy at Kikos a box of your tax returns and legal documents? Especially since you are asking him to scan them! It only takes a minute for him to make his own digital copy and poof! There goes your identity.

Re:Outsource it. (1)

Mannfred (2543170) | more than 2 years ago | (#39006011)

Outsourcing is definitively the way to go if your archive is big. I am facing the same problem - basically looking to digitize an old archive of miscellaneous "important" documents - and a local business offered to scan my estimated 50,000 pieces of paper for GBP 1350 (approx USD 2150). That's 4 cents per document - a no brainer in labour-saving and time-saving terms.

Re:Outsource it. (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 2 years ago | (#39006127)

And storing them on their Facebook page - priceless!

Re:Outsource it. (2)

peragrin (659227) | more than 2 years ago | (#39006195)

Why scan them all? I bet you only need about a 10% of them actually scanned the rest you simply have to store in case they might be needed.

So start out doing everything digital for this year, and only scan in items that actually apply to this years records.

In 10 years you will have a fraction of the paper stored, and full archives.

Buy a used enterprise-class scanner (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39005769)

Consumer grade ADF scanners are toys.
You should be able to find a used one, like the Panasonic KV-S3065 for under $1000.

Re:Buy a used enterprise-class scanner (1)

ducman (107063) | more than 2 years ago | (#39006059)

You probably can't find one, any more, but I bought a used HP ScanJet 5, and installed BSD on it. This page has a lot of info on the process: http://www.berklix.com/scanjet/ [berklix.com]

It's still working far better than any other scanner I've used.

Do you think it's worth it? (5, Insightful)

jcreus (2547928) | more than 2 years ago | (#39005773)

All those tax returns, legal paperwork... Can't they just stay on a box or at the basement? It'll require lots of work, and get few benefits. I would understand for new documents; i.e. introducing to a spreadsheet some taxes/things to pay. But why care about the past? Or, at least, why scan? Just type the figures, it'll be more semantic and wouldn't involve machines (except for you and the computer).

Re:Do you think it's worth it? (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39006131)

Also, if you need past tax returns, you can call IRS and they will be happy to fax them to you.

Re:Do you think it's worth it? (1)

rubycodez (864176) | more than 2 years ago | (#39006161)

and make a cutt-off date for paperwork you will keep, say 8 years. In 4 years over half your pile will be gone, 8 years your pile will be shreds, problem solved.

Re:Do you think it's worth it? (4, Insightful)

swalve (1980968) | more than 2 years ago | (#39006413)

This is where Banker's Boxes are great. Just move last year's files into a box and put a destruction date on it. Done.

Epson GT-2500 (1)

pitkataistelu (1973264) | more than 2 years ago | (#39005781)

I don't know what ADF scanners you have tried, but I have been enormously pleased with Epson's GT-2500. With straightforward letter-sized/a4-sized paper it is very reliable, at least with the Windows software. Unfortunately, the Linux software calls jams all the time when they're not even physically happening.

I haven't used it much lately just because the photocopier at my office is even faster and allows me to dump scans onto an ftp account.

ScanSnap (5, Interesting)

MikeMo (521697) | more than 2 years ago | (#39005783)

Fujitsu ScanSnap S1500 totally rocks. I bought that refurbished for $250. Add in Yojimbo or Evernote and you'll be set. We've gone paperless in our office and at home, and this machine is the heart of that. We scan everything and shred it.

It's nice not having the paper around, but the BIG thing is not having to find it - it's always at your fingertips, searchable by document content or via the keywords in Evernote or Yojimbo.

Re:ScanSnap (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39005891)

This is one of the best purchases I ever did, such amazing thing.

I don't own books anymore. I scanned them, the original pages(I cut the books) are in my parents's boxroom, hundreds of kilometers away.

Re:ScanSnap (3, Funny)

Shoe Puppet (1557239) | more than 2 years ago | (#39006193)

(I cut the books)

You, sir, are worse than Hitler.

Evernote (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39006089)

Add in Yojimbo or Evernote and you'll be set.

The one thing I don't like about Evernote is that you cannot buy it; your only choice is to rent it at $x/month. There is no option (I asked) to simply pay them $y once, and simply get the current version of the software.

I have no need for all the online syncing stuff (which I can understand as a monthly fee), and have no desire to send personal documents into the cloud (especially since it's in the US and I'm in Canada).

Toilet paper (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39005787)

How do you expect to be "paperfree" when almost the entire use of your paper has nothing to do with priting anything?

Most of paper is used for toiletpaper or paper towels or paper tissue.

So, how do you use those 3-shells??

Re:Toilet paper (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39005975)

Bidet and hand towels?

Re:Toilet paper (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39006263)

I trained my dog to lick my ass. No more toilet paper either.. and it feels good too, yay!

One word : Napalm... or a camera scanner (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39005789)

Having worked in archives, I recommend you this kind of scanner.
hovercam [thehovercam.com] .
ok, it's manual but nothing is as fast as this under 2k$.

Use Neat! (1)

Purist (716624) | more than 2 years ago | (#39005791)

This product is fantastic:

http://www.neat.com/

I use mine all of the time.

Get an iPad (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39005793)

and STFU

Paperless at home? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39005795)

I don't now seems I would still need TP at least.

another vote for Fujitsu Scansnap (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39005797)

I own a Fujitsu Scansnap S1500. It's worth the 400 bucks.

Wipe and Flush (-1, Troll)

kawabago (551139) | more than 2 years ago | (#39005803)

It just works.

Fuji Scansnap (1)

tofu2go (727555) | more than 2 years ago | (#39005821)

Hands down the best personal document scanner out there. It is fast, scans duplex, and outputs PDF files. My sister and I both own one. A client of mine also bought one on my recommendation, and the clinic I work at has one as well.

Plenty of 4 figure price tag ADF scanners (1)

Zakabog (603757) | more than 2 years ago | (#39005839)

I work in a computer shop and I've set up numerous ADF scanners, none of which cost more than $3,000 and most of which were $1,500. They all seem to work great and I've heard no complaints of jams or picking up extra paper. They're almost all small (like a small inkjet) scanners without a flatbed, and they all operate in the 30+ ppm range and support scanning over a network. A few Fujitsu's, a few Canon's and one monstrous and very old HP SCSI scanner (comes with a flatbed as well) and none of them so far as I can tell have had any issues jamming or missing pages

Tax returns? (-1, Troll)

Kohath (38547) | more than 2 years ago | (#39005857)

You have tax returns? Stop being a sucker. Quit your job and apply for government benefits. Relax and start living off your neighbors' hard work. There's a nearly endless stream of products and services you're entitled to receive. Why work? Why fill out complicated tax forms?

There are probably free, government funded, services to scan documents. But stuff like that isn't for suckers like you. You have to pay.

Why go "Paperless"? (3, Insightful)

schroom5 (68971) | more than 2 years ago | (#39005861)

I really don't understand the whole idea of going paperless. The vast majority of paper we get, we don't really need to keep more than a month or so. Bills, etc, when you get them, you review them for errors, if everything looks good you pay it, at most I keep 2 months worth of back bills around. If you close an account, keep the last statement for a year or two. Taxes, insurance papers, titles & deed, those you need to keep long term, but 7 years worth of returns, insurance contracts, deeds & titles will fit easily in one, maybe two, plastic file boxes that you can get from Staples for $20. A 2 draw filing cabinet and a couple plastic file boxes should handle the filing needs of the average family. Most people just keep too much paper. The reason you want to keep paper around is if there is ever a disagreement it is usable in court. I'm not sure scanned documents can be submitted to court, so I would never just scan then shred my tax returns.

Use a mounted camera (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39005871)

I had this exact problem. With a scanner I was getting up to 3 scans per minute, and even at that rate it would have taken me months to scan all I wanted. I realized the problem was the physical moving of the element, and that if it were to take the whole snapshot at once then it would be a lot faster. A camera mounted overhead, with a trigger to snap photos dropped my scan time down so much I was doing 12-15 pages per minute. Assuming you get it well lit, with a decent camera that has little distortion, you can get images that are as good as a scanner MUCH faster. I posted about my setup here:

http://bobbaddeley.com/2011/05/fast-scanner/

Even hand-held in a pinch (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39006409)

When I was in a seemingly endless business travel, I discovered through desperation that my little 12 megapixel Canon pocket camera could take a decent whole-page document image. The JPEG files are also small enough to snap many pages and then go through the images to purge things later in batch mode, using a photo gallery program.

It's not as crisp as a good flatbed scan, but it is more readable than a fax, perfectly readable right from the camera, and easily cleaned up with usual digital photo post-processing tools (just to normalize the whites/blacks and perhaps crop to the page edges) if you want to make a clean print or PDF later for some reason. I used Gimp to crop/rotate/scale images to exact page sized images when I needed to print them. For one-off jobs I would also clean up the color curves in Gimp, but for large documents I ended up using a shell script and command-line Linux tools to adjust colors and convert many pages at once into a single PDF. In my experience, maybe 10% of the pages I imaged and stored would ever get this treatment because I had to submit them somewhere in electronic or paper form.

I placed the document on the floor, stood over it with flash and focus-assist lights enabled, zoomed into telephoto mode (to reduce barrel distortion from the lens) and then framed it up using the LCD on the back and took a shot. For multi-page documents, I spread them out and then walked down the line, efficiently snapping many pages in a row. You immediately realize the great throughput a camera has compared to any consumer scanner, and easily adapt to odd page sizes, stiff paper, etc. which would disrupt a page feeder.

The best technique was to lock my forearms against my hips, hold the camera as parallel to the floor as I could, and "pan" by swaying my hips while maintaining a good, flat focus plane. The first couple pages were difficult, but then I learned how the camera felt when correctly positioned, and started getting good shots on the first exposure. For small receipts and statements, I placed them on a blank white page so I could clean up the image later if needed, including cropping and scaling to the known page size and maintaining the physical dimensions for printing a 1:1 copy.

Simple Scan with Brother MFC-7840W (3, Insightful)

El_Oscuro (1022477) | more than 2 years ago | (#39005875)

I have Simple Scan on Ubuntu and a networked Brother MFC-7840W. The Brother has a multiple page feeder which doesn't jam much and Simple Scan which supports multiple pages. Couldn't be easier. Just put your document in the feeder, push scan and a few minutes later you have a 10 page PDF of it.

Cheap scanners (3, Insightful)

DogDude (805747) | more than 2 years ago | (#39005879)

I'm not sure what kind of document feeders the poster has been buying, but I regularly scan and fax hundreds of pages a week on a very affordable Brother multi-function machine. They cost about $300 and work just fine.

Of course, you could also take those old tax returns and stick them in a box in a closet somewhere on the 1/1,000,000 chance that you may ever need to look at them again.

I don't understand Slashdot's obsession with articles and questions about turning simple, mundane tasks into grossly overcomplicated, expensive technical "problems" in need of grossly overcomplicated, expensive technical "solutions".

good scanners are not THAT much $$$ (1)

sribe (304414) | more than 2 years ago | (#39005885)

You don't need a scanner that costs "5 figures". You need something between a ScanSnap ($500) and an fi-6140 ($1,500). You can also look for used/refurb...

Buying the wrong brand? (1)

whoever57 (658626) | more than 2 years ago | (#39005905)

The cheap HP Multifunction I bought 18 months ago has worked for me. Yes, there are the occasional jams, but I have been able to scan all my old tax returns and continue to scan new documents. HP has made a loss on this machine, since I have not installed (let alone bought new) the ink cartridges.

"How to go Paperless at Home?" (5, Insightful)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 2 years ago | (#39005923)

Install a bidet.

Re:"How to go Paperless at Home?" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39006073)

I suppose that you're just going to sit there and drip dry...

No, i'm not going to ask!

Re:"How to go Paperless at Home?" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39006211)

Install a bidet.

Dang, I thought that was a drinking fountain!

Niggers and roap (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39005927)

You know what to do when you see a nigger fag walking down the road. You string him up and hang him.

The question is not what to do with a nigger. The question is whether or not this comment will be deleted.

http://yro.slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=2666467&cid=39004837

Slashdot is now officially completely uselessly stagnated. Ban my IP from this shit useless groupthink site.

Fucking fags.

Huh? (3, Insightful)

PCM2 (4486) | more than 2 years ago | (#39005947)

My reaction is, why would you want to go "paper-free"?

Seriously. Are you allergic to paper or something?

It would be one thing if everybody sent you bills and documents electronically and you never had to deal with paper again, but you're talking about scanning things in with a document feeder. WTF?

Seriously. It is much, much harder to keep records electronically than to throw the pieces of paper into a file cabinet and forget about it. This is well documented.

Maybe for a company that produces huge piles and mounds of documents every year it makes sense to want to convert them to electronic formats, but for an individual it makes no sense. And you're not talking about stuff like marriage licenses, now, you're talking about random individual tax records from years ago. WHY are you losing sleep over it?

The mere fact that it's hard for you to figure out how to do it should be a big clue that IT'S AN INCREDIBLE AMOUNT OF WORK THAT YOU WOULDN'T OTHERWISE HAVE TO DO. Are you so bored?

Re:Huh? (5, Insightful)

devilspgd (652955) | more than 2 years ago | (#39006037)

Seriously. It is much, much harder to keep records electronically than to throw the pieces of paper into a file cabinet and forget about it. This is well documented.

True. Equally well documented is how much easier it is to index paper by multiple keys, as well as rapidly resort and search file cabinets. Oh wait, no, that's electronically stored documents.

Seriously, storing paper is a ton easier and it works for many purposes. Until you move, or have a fire, or your basement floods, or you need a copy of that letter you received from your insurance company 18-24 months ago confirming a change to your home because they're now claiming they weren't informed you're using natural gas instead of electric heat and are declining a $250,000 insurance claim after the aforementioned fire.

But sure, paper is easier to throw into a file cabinet and forget about.

Re:Huh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39006207)

The problem with throwing pieces of paper into a file cabinet is that the storage space required for this monotonically increases over time, unless you commit to going through the documents periodically and discarding what's no longer necessary.

You're worried about doing an "incredible amount of work that you wouldn't otherwise have to do"? Try spending the day pawing through your filing cabinet and pulling files that you want to discard. Now that I've gone paperless with my Scansnap with an ADF, it takes me less than 60 seconds to ingest a batch of documents into the system, and because storage space is cheap, I never have to go through the effort of moving around stacks of old files.

Re:Huh? (1)

MikeMo (521697) | more than 2 years ago | (#39006427)

Once again, it's not so much about not having the paper in a drawer or box or file cabinet - it's about being able to find what you need without searching through said drawers or boxes or file cabinets. And, it's incredibly easy. Load into scanner, up to 15 pages at a time, push button, drag file to Yojimbo, done. Oh, one more step - shred.

Can you go paperless? (2, Insightful)

OzPeter (195038) | more than 2 years ago | (#39005951)

What happens in 4 years time when the IRS wants to do an audit on your 2011 return and makes the request "Show us the receipts"? Likewise for any legal document under the sun. Sure its great to have scanned copies, but I bet that there is still a requirement to back them up with the paper originals

("oh look, I just found he document giving me ownership of slashdot. Pity its worthless")

Re:Can you go paperless? (1)

devilspgd (652955) | more than 2 years ago | (#39006055)

Scan everything, toss it in a box unsorted, with nothing but the start and end dates written on the boxes.

99.whatever% of the time the electronic copy's searchability will win, usually having information matters more than having the original paper. For those few situations where you need the paper, the electronic copy's "created on" date tells you which box it's in.

Re:Can you go paperless? (3, Informative)

cob666 (656740) | more than 2 years ago | (#39006077)

The IRS has accepted scanned receipts since the late 90's, provided they are identical to the original and legible.

Re:Can you go paperless? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39006083)

Well, the difference is in my jurisdiction, as long as you have a regular practice of scanning in documents and then destroying the originals, this is all that is necessary to pass the legal bumps. Although, YMMV, depending on where you live.

In any event, whether in paper form or scanned form, you'd still need to prove that the document is what you purport it to be. The IRS and similar places are well aware you can fake the paper form too.

Re:Can you go paperless? (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39006085)

http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/p17.pdf

Page 16.

Basic gist: can go paperless as long as the digital images are indexed, legible and retrievable.

Re:Can you go paperless? (1)

oldspicepuresport (1551767) | more than 2 years ago | (#39006101)

When I did this as my summer job last year (at an accounting firm) I can assure you that all the receipts, legal invoices, correspondence, notes, business cards, etc. associated with an account were all scanned into the file.

You can use photocopied documents for an audit, so it's not like the originals are actually required. As long as everything that would have been in the paper file is in the electronic file there is literally no difference.

When someone needed a file that had been scanned, they simply printed it out from file. These print-outs are essentially the exact same thing as photocopies, and would serve the same purpose to an auditor.

Re:Can you go paperless? (1)

jago25_98 (566531) | more than 2 years ago | (#39006119)

use your cameraphone? use spectacle lens to focus

Or burn it all and run naked in the garden

Re:Can you go paperless? (1)

BuildMonkey (585376) | more than 2 years ago | (#39006213)

I've used the Fujitsu Snapscan S1500 for the past 18 months and I cannot think of enough good things to say about the hardware. Using the included ScanSnap Organizer, I throw a bill or statement on the machine and it's scanned in seconds. The software uses AbbeyFine OCR to create a "backing" of searchable text in the PDF; the scanned image is presented for viewing and printing. The OCR works very well for printed documents, rather poorly for handwriting. It also has the ability to put the scanned document into a folder based on keywords, e.g. 'Sprint', 'Chase', etc. When I want to find specific documents, it is far faster to type in 'Chase 2011' to get all my bank statements from last year than to search through the files.

Keeping my life on the hard drive means that I have to use special care in backups, which I take using USB hard drives. The usual: rotating media, off site, annual benchmark that lives for years...

I am much more comfortable now that I will be able to produce receipts for the IRS on request than I was with a paper filing system. This is far less work for me and I feel much better about finding things. Documents are stored in searchable PDF; no worries if AbbeyFine or ScanSnap go out of business.

After seeing the recommendation here, I need to check into Yojimbo or Evernote.

Re:Can you go paperless? (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 2 years ago | (#39006237)

Scanned stuff works fine, at least according to my accountant. IF you ever had the IRS go back and question hundreds of documents - if they thought you were padding an account or similar - THEN the actual receipt might be useful. Otherwise, not so much.

You do realize that lots of stuff doesn't even get to paper at all these days.

laziness (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39005965)

Feed the pages in by hand, you lazy motherfucker.

If the document is worth not throwing out, it's worth the 1 second it takes to put it in the scanner.

I guess the asker is unemployed (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39005987)

Otherwise he could just use the scanner at the office!

Easy (1)

TastyCakes (917232) | more than 2 years ago | (#39005995)

Do it at work! Not only do they have better machines, you get paid to do it there!

Re:Easy (0)

TastyCakes (917232) | more than 2 years ago | (#39006013)

And by the by, if you have to poo and it's your lunch hour, wait! You'll get paid to do it a few minutes later.

Re:Easy (3, Funny)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 2 years ago | (#39006251)

Do it at work! Not only do they have better machines, you get paid to do it there!

When will you surf Slashdot then?

By understanding "paperless" (2)

realityimpaired (1668397) | more than 2 years ago | (#39005999)

I go paperless by realizing that "paperless" doesn't mean I expunge all of the paper in my home, only that I don't print anything, and try to get all of my correspondence electronically. In other words, "paperless" means "consume no paper", not "have no paper".

I still have old tax returns, etc. at home as well. I am still paperless, because all of new bills come electronically, I pay them through online banking, I no longer have print news or magazine delivery, and since I put a red dot [reddotcampaign.ca] in my mailbox the only "mail" I get are parcel deliveries and seasonal cards. I have tried to convince family to stop spending money sending xmas cards (especially since I'm not an xian and don't celebrate xmas), but good luck convincing your 90-year old grandmother that she shouldn't be sending you cards, when she's only just wrapped her head around your being a lesbian, and is still having trouble with the tree-hugging dirt-worshipper thing.

Re:By understanding "paperless" (3, Insightful)

AdamWill (604569) | more than 2 years ago | (#39006217)

Maybe you could stop being a self-obsessed idiot and cut your grandmother some slack. She's not sending you Christmas cards to spite your right-on tree-hugging ideals or because she's trying to convert you to Christianity. She's sending Christmas cards because that's what a lot of people do for the people they love. Ever considered that to her, *not* sending you a Christmas card might be as bad a breach of protocol to her as getting a paper bill or whatever is to you?

3 years (1)

V-similitude (2186590) | more than 2 years ago | (#39006003)

I'm always slightly tempted to find a solution for scanning paperwork, but it's just not worth it. Three years is about the most time you'll need any of that stuff -- it's not like photos and such that you want to digitize to keep forever and have easy access to. So throw everything in a box during the year. It's easy enough to find what you need through one year's paperwork. Then sometime after new years, box it up and throw it in a closet. After 3 years, shred it.

If you want to keep track of finances there are much better solutions than scanning receipts. For example, Mint.com.

Receipts w Disappearing Ink (1)

Green Salad (705185) | more than 2 years ago | (#39006295)

Some receipts are printed with disappearing ink. Some can't be read after a month...yet alone 3 years. This is especially true of the copies on yellow receipt paper. I scan when my wallet gets too fat to fold. Scanning allowed me to take deductions that more than paid for the scanner.

Pay someone or rent a scanner (1)

oldspicepuresport (1551767) | more than 2 years ago | (#39006023)

I did this as my summer job last year. We were tasked with converting many (hundred) bankers boxes full of files into electronic format.

We used the Canon DR-9050C, which I believe runs about $10k retail. This is considered a "production" scanner, and so is top of the line for its class. It was generally a great scanner, scanning about 100 ppm with good resolution. That being said, even this scanner had occasional problems with taking multiple sheets in at once (especially for files older than 4+ years, and light-weight paper). The hassle involved with organizing, de-stapling, taping receipts to paper, lining everything up for the scanner, etc. is really the biggest drawback with this sort of operation.

Depending on how many files you have to scan, it may honestly be worth your time to contract this out (look for 'document management' companies), if your time is worth money and you have a lot of files it is probably a better option. If you don't want to contract it out, look at renting a production grade scanner because anything less will see you go insane with frustration. Our scanner came with excellent software that scanned directly to various formats, we scanned to PDF. Many of these production scanners also allow you to use OCR, which obviously takes longer to scan but is pretty damn cool.

There were 2 of us scanning, it took us about 6 hours to scan 4-5 bankers boxes, this includes the organizing, destapling, taping, etc. So to give you a metric, this 10k machine allows 2 people working diligently to scan about 1 bankers box of files every 1.5 hours. If you are scanning a bunch of small files it can take significantly longer, a bankers box full of 80 personal tax files took far longer to process than a box full of 150-400 page corporate files.

Lastly I'll say good luck, this can be a pretty mind-numbing job, but the end product is well worth it :)

Do it "passive agressive" ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39006025)

just don't print yourself, the trees for the stuff that you get in the mail are already dead anyhow, just don't print anything yourself, ideally don't even own a printer.

got somewhere to go? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39006053)

What's wrong with it taking months to scan? You've been fine this long. Do a couple a day, and scan new stuff from now on.

eInvoice (1)

Kjella (173770) | more than 2 years ago | (#39006061)

More and more companies here in Norway now offer eInvoice (eFaktura). Basically they arrive at my online bank as a PDF that I can download and archive/print or just leave there for reference, the archive goes back years. You can use it with or without automatic billing, so if you prefer to manually approve each invoice you can do that. It also gives you a simple link back from payment to invoice, brilliant. No fiddling with papers and a scanner, no large documents, no OCR issues, cheaper for them, easier for me, a win all around and much more secure than my email, as secure as my online bank. Why the rest of the world hasn't adopted it I don't know, I'd say it's a brilliant system.

Keep the paper, it lasts. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39006111)

Keep the paper; tax returns, brokerage confirmations etc. The paper in a box, in dry place, is a safe and long lasting storage medium.
Any electronic version will be ephemeral . I am still providing proof of purchases for stock fraud schemes of the early 2000s.
Get large manila envelopes, at the beginning of the year take your old (two years ago) stuff and put in the envelopes , label them, Tax, brokerage, paid bill, ... .
In ten years the box will be full. get another one.

NB: Tax can be audited 3 years from date of filing. AND there are ways to get beyond the limit.
 

Use a bidet. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39006139)

That's where I'd start :D

Install a PDF exporter as your default printer (2)

HouseOfMisterE (659953) | more than 2 years ago | (#39006163)

Install a PDF exporter/printer as your default printer on your PC/Mac/etc. For Windows I would recommend the free PDFCreator from http://sourceforge.net/projects/pdfcreator/ [sourceforge.net] .

I do a lot of online shopping and like to keep a copy of my purchase receipts. I print my receipts to PDFCreator, name the output file something descriptive (YYYY-MM-DD - Merchant + Item description.pdf) and save the PDFs to a receipts folder. It fulfills my needs, doesn't waste paper, and I can print a receipt copy if I ever have the need.

How To Go Paperless At Home? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39006179)

How are you gonna wipe that ass of yours?

Simple: I don't (1)

msobkow (48369) | more than 2 years ago | (#39006185)

I like having hard copy of important documents filed away for future reference. They don't take up nearly as much space as my paperbacks, CDs, and DVD collections do, so the 1-2 boxes of paperwork is just flat out not worth worrying about for me.

Digital Camera (1)

adamgolding (871654) | more than 2 years ago | (#39006187)

1. http://www.sharpics.com/tabletop-monopod-p-28.html [sharpics.com]
2. Digital camera with a remote switch option (i.e. Poweshot G10)
3. Black Surface
4. Bright Lights
5. http://www.i2s-bookscanner.com/produits.asp?gamme=1011&sX_Menu_selectedID=path_1011_GEN [i2s-bookscanner.com] (To 3d deskew text)
6. http://finereader.abbyy.com/ [abbyy.com] (to straighten up text a bit more in the 2d realm, and OCR the book)

Via this method it's about as fast as you can flip the pages. (Use the remote switch with your foot.)

Unfortunately you can't buy this convenient device any more:
http://hughsung.com/blog/index.php?itemid=61 [hughsung.com]

Use a digital camera? (3, Informative)

hawguy (1600213) | more than 2 years ago | (#39006197)

When I had a bunch of old documents i wanted to image, I used a tripod to suspend my digital camera over my desk pointing downward, set it to fixed focus along with a bright light nearby, then my wife and I started snapping pics as fast as I could lay pages out. We used a DSLR, but any camera should work. Setting it to fixed focus was key to prevent focusing delays.

I'd put a page on the desk and she'd snap a pic as soon as I'd lay it down (with a remote shutter release, it would be easy to do it with one person). We did over 1000 pages in less than an hour - it took longer to shred the docs than it did to image them because the cheap shredder kept turning itself off due to thermal overload. I taped the focusing ring and zoom ring in place to make sure it didn't move out of focus and spot checked a few docs along the way to make sure everything looked good. My 10MP camera gave around 250dpi resolution for legal sized documents, which was more than sufficient for my needs. I originally thought I'd save them as uncompressed TIFF's and convert to PNG's, but it turned out that the "fine" JPG setting on the camera gave good results with small file sizes (and didn't need as many memory cards). I've printed a few of the docs since then, with adequate cropping in an image editor, the printed docs look about as good as a photocopy.

Maybe not the best solution for ongoing needs, but if you have a single big batch to do and you don't want to spend a lot of money on a scanner, it might be worth looking into. This method would work well with poor quality and/or oddly shaped originals like thermal paper receipts.

PageScanner App (1)

cpollett (959521) | more than 2 years ago | (#39006235)

To quickly scan stuff I just use the PageScanner app for my iPhone. It takes a picture every ten seconds or so and when done combines them into a single PDF. Since its in your phone, it is super portable and convenient.

Got a match? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39006245)

I'll take care of all that paper.

Jams and MultiFeeds - Live with it (1)

marphod (41394) | more than 2 years ago | (#39006247)

I've got a Canon GS-50, and over the past month have made the transition from huge amounts of papers to everything digitized.

My solution for multi feeds and jams? Notice, recover, and rescan. It honestly doesn't take that much longer. You will want to keep a quick eye on every page, anyways, in case of poor scans, off-perpendicular feeds, OCR-recognition failures (not so much the accuracy of the text, but the analysis confusing a block of text with graphics), and to trim blank or excess pages (page 8 of a 7-page duplex document, or page 2 of my financial statements which are the exact same notices 10 years running). Fire and forget would be lovely, but it doesn't happen.

It isn't like I only have a few things to scan, either. I have more than 15 kilos (33lbs) of documents to shred, plus the ~4 kilos (9lbs) I've already shredded and about another 10 kilos (22lbs) of scanned papers that don't need to be shredded before recycling (e.g. college club annuals). For the record, there are about 100 pages of standard 8.5x11 paper to the lbs (220 pages to the kilo -- equal to about 6500 sheets -- although many of the pages were significantly smaller like checks and the 'keep for your records' portion of bills).

It took less than a month at a couple hours a day to handle approximately 12,000 page-faces (lots of duplex pages, and the total sheet count is closer to 9,000 given how many were undersized pages).

---

Is it worth keeping old records? That depends. Some of these documents (e.g. my mother's living will, my house's deed) I need to keep a physical copy around regardless. Although this leaves me a copy on hand and I can put the original in a safe-deposit box. Some of these documents have limited lifespans (did I really need to scan the bank statements escrow account for my former tenant who moved out years ago? Probably not). Others are good to have forever -- I've looked up phone numbers from phone bills 15 years old, to get back in touch with someone. I need to keep many of my investments receipts so I can deal with taxes when they are sold.

For me, it is much easier to be a pack-rat of electronic files that fit onto a USB key, than to have stacks of papers around the house. If you don't have that much paperwork, don't need to store it indefinitely, or don't have the MustKeepEverything instinct, it probably isn't worth it to scan everything.

Use a camera (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39006261)

Easy. Use a camera. Even a camera phone has enough resolution fo a single page, a regular compact digital snap can be 6 pages laid out on the kitchen table and is easily legible.
Scanners are too much hassle.

Brutal tossing (1)

rueger (210566) | more than 2 years ago | (#39006277)

Become brutal about tossing/shredding/recycling any bit of paper that's not ABSOLUTELY needed. Even my packrat girlfriend ends up with an entire year of tax and business related stuff in one 4" binder. Most of the paper that people hang on to (and e-docs as well) is entirely disposable.

How about become "scanner free" (1)

mykepredko (40154) | more than 2 years ago | (#39006297)

Well, not completely.

But you don't seem to be able to buy a printer without an integrated scanner.

At home, I have a regular printer (with a scanner), a large format printer (with a scanner) and a photograph printer (with a scanner).

It would be nice to be able to get a cheap printer without a scanner attachment - I'd even be willing to pay the same amount if the quality (and longevity) of the printer was improved!

myke

Fujitsu ScanSnap. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39006339)

Fujitsu ScanSnap. I got one six years ago for this purpose, and I'm using it to this day. It is a bit pricey upfront (the entry level model is $400) but it is totally worth it. Fast, excellent paper handling, good quality scans. I've emptied out four filing cabinets with mine, and I continue to use it yeas later.

Work online-only with your clients... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39006355)

Here in western Europe more and more can be done exclusively online.

I send bills as PDF (creating them in Google Docs nowadays) to my clients. I fill my VAT-fillings using the online website (ultra-piece-of-buggy-crap and it's an horror to get the TLS/SSL certificates right but it can be done). Same for the IRS fillings: all online (and it's also buggy as **** but, well, it can be made to work).

I ask for my utility bills to come online (some companies even beg you to move to the online version of their billing system).

I use emails instead of letters, etc.

Old paper sh!t goes into big boxes labelled by years, but since a few years it's nearly all only online stuff.

Once in a while I do print a good ol' letter. That's what HP LaserJet 4M+ and netcat'ing PostScript are made for ; )

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