Documents, whether in paper or electronic form, are very important to any organization. They contain important information that helps you run your day-to-day operations. The problem is that a lot of organizations still archive their documents the old-fashioned way – in file cabinets.
Bear in mind that the manner in which you store your documents can affect the level of efficiency you’re able to achieve. With the file cabinet method, you’re likely to spend a considerable amount of time looking for files when you need them! With a more efficient archiving system, you can greatly improve your organization’s efficiency.
One solution you may want to consider is cloud archiving. Cloud archiving saves you from having to physically store your documents. Rather, important data are stored digitally “in the cloud.”
Benefits of Cloud Storage
Among the most significant benefits of cloud storage are the following:
- It allows you to access your data wherever and whenever you need to.
- Your data is stored in a one-stop online repository and can be made available within seconds. You don’t even need an IT department to manage the archive and you get to take advantage of unlimited storage capacity.
- It is a lot cheaper than physical storage and other archiving options.
- You are assured that your documents are secure and easily retrievable.
- Data are stored in redundant and geographically separate environments, so if one data center crashes and burns, you still have backup files.
Image Credit: Flickr
Now that you know there’s an archiving solution that offers a lot of benefits, you’re probably wondering how you can archive your paper documents in the cloud. Well, among the first things you need to do is find an efficient way of scanning your paper documents so you can convert them into digital format. Towards this end, there are a lot of options for you to choose from.
One option is for you to take a photo of your documents using your smartphone or digital camera. You may then upload the photos to your computer so you can archive them in the cloud. You even have the option of enhancing the images before archiving them.
If there’s a large amount of data to be digitized and it’ll take too much time to photograph them individually, then you may want to consider purchasing a professional-grade scanner. You can choose between a flatbed and a sheet-fed scanner. It may be better to use a sheet-fed scanner in this case, since this type of scanner can scan multiple pages without the need for you to manually feed each page into it the way you would with a flatbed.
If you need to digitize documents with back-to-back prints, then it would be wise to get a scanner with “duplex” ability, which means it can scan both sides at once. If, however, you plan to digitize books and other bound documents, then it would be a good idea for you to get a flatbed as well.
Image Credit: Wikimedia
If the task of scanning paper documents is really too much for you or your staff to take care of without sacrificing the day-to-day operations of your organization, then it would be best to outsource your document digitizing needs. There are lots of service providers who can do the work for you at minimal cost. What’s important is for you to do your homework and make sure the outsourcer you choose is the one who can best address your needs.
Once your paper documents have all been digitized, you can start grouping them into categories and then uploading them to your chosen cloud hosting service. It is best to have a system for naming your files and categories to make your archives even more organized. It’s also advisable to save your files in a format that’s likely to stay supported for generations to come.
PDF may be a good choice, as this is one of the most established file formats currently available. Cloud services include Dropbox, Evernote, and Google Docs, among others. It may also be a good idea to keep a copy of your archive in an external drive to make sure you always have a backup no matter what happens to your chosen cloud hosting service.
If a paperless workplace is one of your dreams for your organization, then you can start working towards the fulfillment of that dream by digitizing your paper documents and archiving them using cloud storage. Even if your office does not become completely paperless, you will at least have more efficient operations and a much tidier workplace.
Craig Hollingum has been in the Document Imaging business for well over half of his life. He has been involved in Micro Com Systems Ltd. on an evolutionary path as an employee/partner/sole owner since 1982.