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Ask Slashdot: How To Go Paperless At Home? 311

Posted by timothy
from the zippo-would-like-to-help dept.
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?"
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Ask Slashdot: How To Go Paperless At Home?

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  • Evernote (Score:5, Informative)

    by xanadu113 (657977) on Saturday February 11, 2012 @01:57PM (#39005751) Homepage
    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 (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 11, 2012 @01:59PM (#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: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        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 (Score:4, Insightful)

      by DarkVader (121278) on Saturday February 11, 2012 @11:04PM (#39009069)

      Somehow, putting my personal confidential documents on somebody else's server seems like a very, very bad idea. I'm not at all sure why you'd suggest it.

      Scan as you go makes sense for new documents, but I think THE_WELL_HUNG_OYSTER's question really was a request for our opinions on bulk scanning solutions for already existing paper documents, not an ill-advised "cloud" storage solution for new ones.

      Unfortunately, I don't have a good answer either, scanners generally prove to be quite the annoyance.

  • by chronosan (1109639) on Saturday February 11, 2012 @01:58PM (#39005755)
    Find someone who'll rent one to you.
    • 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.

      • by peragrin (659227)

        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.

        • by AmiMoJo (196126)

          In the UK you are required to keep original copies of documents for some purposes. For example copies of wage slips and bank statements are not usually enough to prove your income to some arms of the government. I keep everything I need to keep in boxes labelled by year. One box per year. After five years clear out the oldest box and recycle it. It does mean that when you need a document you have to search through the box for it, but that is so rare it isn't worth organising.

          If you want to go electronic you

      • by SkimTony (245337) on Saturday February 11, 2012 @02:58PM (#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.

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          Until someone figures out that you are shortening the life if the feeder and scanner

          • I don't know much about enterprise grade ADFs. but I imagine if a company has one the impact of a single user will have little impact on the overall life span of such a machine. If it is such a mission critical machine, you would hope they would have a service contract which regularly replaces parts whether they need replacing or not.

          • by SkimTony (245337)

            Well, technically I'm using company electricity, too. However, I strongly suspect that this machine will be swapped out with a newer model in a few years (they're leased, I think) which will be well before the sheet feeder wears out. Most copiers die when the paper feed/print mechanisms wear out, not when the scanner does (at least in my experience).

    • by ajlisows (768780)

      Heck, take the pile of paper to a Kinko's or local copy center and get it done there. Worry about naming/sorting when you get home. This option should be cheaper (and easier) than renting an enterprise copier.

  • Out source (Score:5, Funny)

    by NEDHead (1651195) on Saturday February 11, 2012 @01:58PM (#39005757)

    to China

    • Re:Out source (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Eponymous Coward (6097) on Saturday February 11, 2012 @03:26PM (#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.

      • Re:Out source (Score:5, Insightful)

        by 93 Escort Wagon (326346) on Saturday February 11, 2012 @05:41PM (#39007369)

        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.

        Plus there's the added bonus of someone else having your complete history in digital form! Saves them a few steps if they ever want to make a lateral move into identity theft.

  • by introp (980163) on Saturday February 11, 2012 @01:58PM (#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.

    • by Alan Shutko (5101) on Saturday February 11, 2012 @02:02PM (#39005779) Homepage

      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.

      • but when it does, it can notice it (mine has an ultrasonic sensor) and will let you fix it immediately.

        Mine always grabs multiple sheets unless they've been previously folded. Not sure if mine has an ultrasonic sensor - what does the sensor do?

    • by lhaeh (463179) on Saturday February 11, 2012 @02:05PM (#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.

      • by itsme1234 (199680)

        +1 for ScanSnap 1500 or similar.
        OCR on "normal", modern printouts/paper (like bills and such) is spooky, as opposed for old magazines where it's so-so.
        Software is a bunch of closed spaghetti-commercial software you can't use for much more than getting searchable PDFs from your boxes of paper but oh, it does work for this purpose. Also it's about the only software where I'm satisfied with default settings. Tried to play with resolution, color, compression (space is cheap, I know how to handle a couple odd hu

      • by epine (68316)

        I've had a ScanSnap for several years, and I second that it has never jammed once. On average, the OCR also works pretty good, but I had many small complaints and with a little polish it could be great. Not holding my breath, however.

        I'm not presently up to date with the OCR software bundle right now. After an initial push, I've let the paper stack up again. Another push coming soon.

        One thing that really bugged me as a hardcore nerd is that in duplex scan mode it doesn't auto-cancel bleed-through. If

    • by puck01 (207782) on Saturday February 11, 2012 @02:40PM (#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.

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by musth (901919)

        A ScanSnap costs $400, obviously quite an intricate product (iphones are less than this). How much does manufacturing, assembling, shipping, and mining the rare earth metals and other materials needed to create one of these things counteract the environmental and monetary savings of keeping less paper? How many people can even AFFORD a luxury like this?

        I think this might be another example of techno-delusional thinking.

        • by plover (150551) * on Saturday February 11, 2012 @04:46PM (#39006995) Homepage Journal

          The number of people being able to afford one is irrelevant. There are always wealthy people who can afford something that the poor cannot.

          The question about the savings of keeping less paper are perfectly on target. Assuming the paper is recycled (either after scanning or after you've kept it for the required seven years) that part's a wash. They still printed and mailed you the paper, and you still handled it and disposed of it. There is no savings one way or the other based on how long you keep it.

          The only actual savings is incurred if you change residences. Not having to move seven boxes of old papers is perhaps worth a few cents of your time and some truck fuel.

          The other "savings" claimed is convenience. Having a searchable back index of these pieces of paper might have some value, but only if you actually need to refer back to them. And that's the deal. I have a box of paper marked "2006" in the closet, filled with receipts, bills, tax forms, etc. How often do I go back to that? Never. So how often would I need to refer back to the electronic version of the same data? Never. It's a box of pre-recycling scrap paper that I store only because I may need it in case of a future tax audit. Otherwise, doing anything with it is a waste of my time and effort.

          Next January, I'll spend an hour in front of the shredder getting rid of the contents of that box. Even that's no different than spending a minute a week shredding them after scanning them, really. Now, a scanner/shredder combination might be a lower-effort way of handling them, but that's not the product we're looking at. Plus, I shred in bulk, which is a lot faster than shredding a sheet at a time while scanning it.

          So I completely agree with you. Overall, scanning these papers would be a step that delivers no benefit to me, yet costs me in terms of time and money.

    • 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

      • 1500m is fine, Ive also used 500 and 510s, and they all work about the same. Difference seems mostly to be speed, etc.

      • by BasilBrush (643681) on Saturday February 11, 2012 @03:46PM (#39006501)

        S1500 is good if it won't ever move from a desk.
        S1100 doesn't have a document feeder, but could be OK if you need utra-portability.

        S1300 is a good compromise. A document feeder and also portable. It's the one I have and I like it.

        They all use the same software.

        Note that these scanners don't use TWAIN drivers. Which is mostly a good thing as TWAIN has drawbacks, and makes scanning fiddly. But it does mean these scanners won't work directly from within apps that use TWAIN, and might be a problem with Linux machines.

    • by swalve (1980968)
      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
    • Seconding ScanSnaps. Theyre expensive ($400-500), but they work beautifully. I dont think Ive ever heard of or seen a single gripe for these. Theyre fast, duplex, and trouble free.

  • Outsource it. (Score:4, Informative)

    by Fished (574624) <amphigory.gmail@com> on Saturday February 11, 2012 @01:59PM (#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. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by mj1856 (589031) on Saturday February 11, 2012 @02:25PM (#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. (Score:4, Insightful)

        by markdavis (642305) on Saturday February 11, 2012 @05:23PM (#39007283)

        If you think THAT is crazy, look at the first, top-rated comment! Evernote? Yeah, like I want to give some third-party, "cloud" service access to all my stuff all the time? Geesh, even Google is bad enough now. And if you think I am going to use my phone to pay for stuff with Google Wallet.... think again!

    • by Mannfred (2543170)
      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.
      • And storing them on their Facebook page - priceless!

      • by peragrin (659227)

        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.

        • by Mannfred (2543170)
          For me it's partly about saving space (yes, 50K documents take a fair bit of it), partly about 'fireproofing' them, partly about portability (I travel) and partly about searchability (OCR + indexing) - the ability to find most documents which mention a particular topic over the past few decades in a matter of seconds is exceptionally valuable for me personally.
        • 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.

          Working out which ones are in that 10% is a lot easier once they are scanned and searchable. And, by the time they're scanned, there isn't much of an advantage in deleting them...

        • Re:Outsource it. (Score:4, Informative)

          by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 11, 2012 @05:06PM (#39007143)

          "Why scan them all?"

          More than once I've needed a receipt a year or two later because something needed to be fixed under warranty. Oh, I found the original receipt! I think. Two years later, it's blank, the thermal print faded to nothing.

          THAT is why I scan.

  • by jcreus (2547928) on Saturday February 11, 2012 @02:01PM (#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: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

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

    • by rubycodez (864176)
      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.
      • Very bad idea (Score:5, Insightful)

        by sgent (874402) on Saturday February 11, 2012 @04:03PM (#39006647)

        although some paper work can be eliminated after 4 years, other needs to be retained much, much longer. Supporting documents for tax returns -- especially those not reported by third parties to the irs -- should be kept for a minimum of 3 years AFTER you file the return. Six years if you have under-reported or taken aggressive deductions that may reduce your taxes due by more than 25%.

        In addition you should retain every receipt for the purchase and capital improvements to your house until (see above) years after you sell the house -- this includes new roofs, AC, appliances, remodeling expenses, etc.

        Stock records should be kept as above.

        Contracts (esp. big ones) should be kept until the contract is completed, and at least until the statue of limitations runs out.

        This doesn't even get into business property -- where you can be audited on a desk you purchased up to 14 years later (in theory). Property related to assets (vs. expenses) should almost be retained indefinitely.

        • Which doesn't change the math much.

          1. Make sure that all *new* documentation is scanned in addition to being filed.
          2. Start throwing out paper that aren't needed any longer.
          3. Scan items that you identify in step #2, which need to be kept for at least another 5 years.

          No need to dig back through 10+ years of records, scanning everything. Just scan the stuff that passes the "3+ years old, and still needed for another 5+ years" sniff test and you'll cut the workload down by 10x or more.
    • by swalve (1980968) on Saturday February 11, 2012 @03:26PM (#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.
  • ScanSnap (Score:5, Interesting)

    by MikeMo (521697) on Saturday February 11, 2012 @02:02PM (#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.
  • Toilet paper (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 11, 2012 @02:03PM (#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??

  • 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 a

  • by schroom5 (68971) on Saturday February 11, 2012 @02:12PM (#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 (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 11, 2012 @02:13PM (#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/

    • by xaxa (988988)

      You could mount a tri-square underneath your camera to speed up lining up the document.

      (But personally I think it's a waste of time for home records. I dump mine in a box, they're in reverse-chronological order the two times a year I need anything. New year = new box, the old one goes in a cupboard.)

  • by El_Oscuro (1022477) on Saturday February 11, 2012 @02:13PM (#39005875) Homepage
    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 (Score:3, Insightful)

    by DogDude (805747) on Saturday February 11, 2012 @02:13PM (#39005879) Homepage
    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".
  • 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...

  • 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.
  • by John Hasler (414242) on Saturday February 11, 2012 @02:18PM (#39005923) Homepage

    Install a bidet.

  • Huh? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by PCM2 (4486) on Saturday February 11, 2012 @02:21PM (#39005947) Homepage

    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? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by devilspgd (652955) <slashdot@devilspgd.net> on Saturday February 11, 2012 @02:33PM (#39006037) Homepage

      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.

    • by MikeMo (521697)
      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.
      • So scanning it all in for a year and indexing it would take like half a day?
        I just put everything in a box per year. When I need something, I spend a maximum of 10 minutes searching through that pile. Last year I spent a total of 15 minutes looking for stuff in that pile the two times I needed receipts for warranty repairs.
        Scanning it all in is just bad ROI.
      • How are you a anywhere even close to done after scanning? Even if you bypass directories and proper file names in favor of metadata and searching, inputting all that meta data is a *huge* job, no matter how quick and efficient you make it.

        I tried to go paperless for a while, but the scanning and meta data were just too much, and the benefits too little. For the rare occassion I actually need to look up something that requires 'searching', it's less effort overall to just use paper. I've actually gone so far

    • by crazyvas (853396)

      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.

      Is the documentation that you speak of electronic or has it been filed on paper somewhere? Wait a second, given your lack of citation, I think I know the answer....;)

  • by OzPeter (195038) on Saturday February 11, 2012 @02:21PM (#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")

    • by devilspgd (652955)

      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.

    • by cob666 (656740) on Saturday February 11, 2012 @02:38PM (#39006077) Homepage
      The IRS has accepted scanned receipts since the late 90's, provided they are identical to the original and legible.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 11, 2012 @02:38PM (#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.

    • 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.

    • by swalve (1980968)
      You almost HAVE to scan the receipts, because the original thermal paper will have turned pink by the time you need it. Posters below are right, almost everyone accepts electronic documents. Audits come down to plausibility anyway. It's the numbers that count. If you claim $40k in income and $20k in deductions, you are screwed no matter what. Also, the important receipts will be duplicated somewhere- credit card statement or canceled check or with the vendor.
  • by realityimpaired (1668397) on Saturday February 11, 2012 @02:27PM (#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.

    • by AdamWill (604569) on Saturday February 11, 2012 @02:54PM (#39006217) Homepage

      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?

  • 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 fo

  • 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

  • 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.

  • by hawguy (1600213) on Saturday February 11, 2012 @02:50PM (#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.

  • 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

  • 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.
  • 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

  • by myxiplx (906307) on Saturday February 11, 2012 @03:47PM (#39006511)

    As others have said, Fujitsu Snapscan. For around £350 you get a compact dual sided scanner that just works. We used them in a previous job and they had no trouble scanning thousands of pages a week with almost no jams.

    Also, if any scanner starts to pick up multiple sheets or jam, look for a maintenance kit. Replacing the pads and rollers is a simple, routine task and does wonders. We kept spares in stock and had to service scanner feeds every couple of years or so.

  • In my (admittedly limited) experience, when scanning "assorted" documents like you plan to do, Fujitsu's $500 ScanSnap personal scanners aren't any more prone to jams than their $20,000 production scanners. If anything, they're somewhat less prone to mangling documents, simply because they run more slowly.

    With that said, if a few years of tax returns and legal documents will truly take months to scan, you have a massive volume of paper, and you should probably look into outsourcing. Using a Fujitsu ScanSnap

  • by pbjones (315127)

    it doesn't make economic sense to go paperless. In some cases paper originals are still required. I would audit your material and find out how long you are legally required to keep items for, then trash anything that you don't need. I had about 10years and in some cases 20 years of paperwork, the most that I needed was 7 years, and a few items for proof of employment, the rest is now compost. I didn't spend ages scanning, I don't have to thank about archiving discs, it all fits in a couple of boxes on the t

  • I use an HP Photosmart C6180 "all in one" along with gscan2pdf for most stuff. It works surprisingly well. Duplex is a bit painful, though. I usually scan once a year, in January, everything for the year, after doing my taxes.

    But sometimes I cheat and take some of it to work. It costs nothing to "scan to pdf/Email" on the leased Xerox Document Centre's, they make shockingly small but very readable outputs, and are SCARY FAST compared to anything else I have ever touched. I just spend 5 minutes of my ow

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