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BITS & BYTES: Be File Cabinet Free

By Staff | Jun 9, 2010

Someone sends you a piece of paper. It could be a recipe, a bill, or just general information. You decide you want to keep it so you take this paper to your filing cabinet, find a file folder, and place it in the cabinet. When you want to recover it, you walk back to the cabinet, find the file folder, and pull out the pages. When you fill one cabinet, you must find room for another.

What happens when you want to retrieve a filed piece of paper when you’re not at that location? What happens if you want to have a copy of all of your files at another location incase some weather condition damages the location at which these files are saved? If you’re using readily available 21st century technology the answers are easy.

A type of application called a "document management" application is one that enables easy digital filing of physical files. These programs are not to be confused with photographic scanning programs that require much user interaction for each scan. Instead, document management programs automate the scanning process down to a single button click. Clicking one button scans a document, crops, orients, enhances, saves as a PDF, and names the document. Digital filing generally takes slightly less time than physical filing. Digital retrieval takes tremendously less time than physical retrieval.

In addition, with only a few key strokes, every file you have can be copied so that you can easily store it anywhere for safe keeping. Compared to photocopying every piece of paper you have, digital copying is astronomically faster.

Data retrieval is faster because it is not location dependent and you can easily search for documents that may have been misfiled. Performing an automatic search on filing cabinets is still not available. Documents can be easily saved on a laptop so that they are available when you’re traveling or they can be saved at your home and office so that you can access them using a VPN system.

Finding documents is a matter of either browsing, similar to the conventional method, or searching by keyword. In addition, all documents (including those that are not pictures) can be shown as thumbnails. A folder of spreadsheets, for example, can be viewed as thumbnails for easy browsing without opening each document.

The systems available today are extremely easy to use and make paper filing systems completely obsolete. They can be implemented at the beginning of a company or new filing system or implemented for an existing system. If you already have a large number of paper files, don’t be overwhelmed by the thought of scanning everything. Instead start the scanning system for new documents now so that your paper file collection stops growing. Then, over time, you can work on the existing files. Many different scanners are available including those with high capacity document feeders, double sided scanning, 60+ pages / minute, large format, and anything else that is needed.

Welcome to the 21st century!

(Bits & Bytes is a computer troubleshooting advice column provided by Zebis, a single point of contact managed service provider located on Sanibel serving clients worldwide.)