Records Management Blog | Practical Records Management

3 Tips for Choosing a Network Document Scanner

Posted by Michael Thomas on Mon, May 24, 2010 @ 12:17 PM

Network Document Scanners are a popular choice for companies getting started with document scanning, and with good reason. They're reasonably priced, don't require a dedicated computer, and help companies quickly convert Paper to Digital Images. When looking for a scanner though, it's easy to be overwhelmed by all of the choices - are you sure you know what DPI is best for your application? When you go to make a purchase decision, consider these factors:

Network Scanner1) Daily Scanning Volume - This is the most important consideration when buying any scanner, networked or otherwise. Think about how many pages you'll need to capture on a daily basis, and make your buying decision accordingly. Try not to consider your entire backfile scanning project when making this determination, either - just think about how many pages you're likely to capture on a daily basis during the normal course of business. You can always outsource to a document scanning service provider to address your bulk scanning issues, saving you time and money in the process.

2) Bundled Software - Without Software, a scanner is just an expensive paperweight. You should make sure that some level of document scanning software is included with the equipment. It's particularly helpful if this is a flexible software toolkit like eCopy or NSi Autostore. These packages will let you do more than just drop images on network share devices and help you drive more value out of your investment.

3) Touchscreen or Keyboard Capabilities - Once you scan an image, you're going to want to be able to tag it with some sort of meaningful data to let you find it, or at least let the person on the other end of the receipt have an idea what it is. Be sure that the device you choose has a Touchscreen interface at the least, and ideally offers the option of attaching a keyboard. Some models, like the HP and Fujitsu Network Scanners, even come with built in keyboards, making them an attractive alternative for companies that need to add a bit more detail to what they're scanning.

There are a lot of options available when looking to buy a scanner, and it's important to not be distracted by the bright and shiny features. Most of the time, they're not going to be of much use to you. Instead, keep these practical elements in mind when making your buying decision and you'll end up much happier with the results.

Tags: Document Management, Scanning, Document Imaging, Scanners

Choosing the right DPI for Business Document Scanning

Posted by Michael Thomas on Mon, Mar 08, 2010 @ 01:43 PM

If you choose to Scan and Store Business Documents Electronically, be cautious about the DPI (Dots Per Inch) that you choose to scan the files. There are many reasons to be cautious in selecting the appropriate DPI, including the desired level of clarity, readability, file storage requirements, and the type of image you're capturing.

For most Standard Business Documents, 200 DPI Bitonal (Black and White) should be adequate.

If you choose to Store files at a higher resolution, keep in mind that there are significant impacts to the size of the file. For Example:

A Standard office Document Scanned at 200 DPI, Bitonal as a TIF will be around 41K. The File will be Readable, and should be able to be emailed and downloaded fairly easily. At 300 DPI,  Bitonal, that same file balloons to 62K, which is still relatively small, but may consume much more space as you scan more pages.  Now here is where this gets interesting, if you choose to scan the same file at 150 DPI in Color, the file size increases to 164KB. There are a few reasons for this, most of which require big words like "bilinear interpolation", but the point is that you need to be sure to use the appropriate settings when scanning files to ensure that you use the appropriate amount of storage, and don't create bloated, slow-moving files.

What are your best suggestions for DPI Settings? Be sure to add your input in the comments!

Tags: ECM, Paperless Office, Scanning, Scanners

Film and Fiche just can't be Found?

Posted by Michael Thomas on Mon, Mar 08, 2010 @ 06:48 AM
Many companies have old files that may include documents that have previously been saved using microfiche or microfilm. In today's environment, however, Microfiche and microfilm are no longer the standard used for archiving documents nor are they convenient for document retrieval, sharing, or printing.  The use of computerMicrofilm Reader technology has brought with it a new standard for document storage, and that is the scanned image.  If you have used microfiche or microfilm in the past you may be wondering what to do with your current archive.

We've found that while many people know that scanning can be used for paper documents, many folks are not aware that other media can also be scanned as well.  Microfiche, microfilm and aperture cards can all be easily and successfully scanned. Better yet, scanning these images into TIF and PDF converts them into useable formats that can be viewed, shared, and printed by anyone. In addition, these can be easily stored electronically and organized within a database for quick access and retrieval. 

Once your documents are converted you'll be able to easily search and review files on your computer.  Having up to date files can reduce the time spent looking for files and viewing them with readers.  Now files can easily be sent between users who need them with no problem.  Your company will be in compliance with information laws such as the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), and other emerging standards. 

 There are many advantages of converting your microfiche or microfilm to electronic documents, including:

  • Reducing the cost and requirement of storing old microfiche or microfilm
  • Eliminating the need to use reading machines that are quickly becoming obsolete
  • Reducing the expensive maintenance on reading machines
  • Streamlining the process of retrieving files
  • Providing flexible use of electronic files - files can be emailed, printed or faxed
  • Allowing for better organization of files for faster retrieval.

Have you come up with other alternatives for dealing with legacy Film and Fiche files? Please share them in the comments and let me know what you think.

Tags: Scanning, File Storage, Records Management, Microfiche, Microfilm, Scanners

The Best Way to Clean Your Scanner

Posted by Michael Thomas on Wed, Mar 03, 2010 @ 06:37 AM
I've been using scanners for more than fifteen years, and like many users, I'm often confounded my the amount of dust and debris that comes from what seems like clean sheets of paper. When you think about it, how the heck did the files get that dirty in the first place?!? I've spent countless hours in our scanning service operation using canned air, cleaning sheets, and other "advanced" cleaning kits to try and keep the scanner as clean and free from dust, all with the intent of ensuring that I was capturing the best possible images.

Well, about three months ago, I found an awesome solution, and it needs to be Swiffer Duster Scanner Cleaningshared. The answer is the Swiffer Duster. These little gems can be used to clean hard-to-reach places around your home or office, but when you use them to clean a scanner, something magical happens. Instead of pushing the dust around the inside of your scanner, the electro-static  Swiffer Duster will actually collect and remove the dist from the scanner, leaving you with a dust-free, clean scanner - ready to capture all of your important scans.

Keep in mind that the Swiffer Duster will not replace your regularly scheduled maintenance, and that you'll still need to change rollers and clean other parts of your valuable scanner, but on a day to day basis, it will save time and money by keeping your equipment running at peak performance.

If you're ready to give it a try, you can save a bundle by just buying the Swiffer Duster refills and using them like traditional cleaning cloths. They'll grab that dust and leave you with a cleaner, better performing scanner in minutes.

Have you tried it yet? Please share your experiences or other great scanner maintenance tips in the comments.

Tags: Document Scanning, Document Imaging, Scanners

3 Important Considerations when Buying a Scanner

Posted by Michael Thomas on Thu, Feb 18, 2010 @ 06:31 PM

It usually starts with a simple enough idea - Let's scan paper files to digital images. But when the search for the best scanner gets underway, the choices can quickly become overwhelming. When selecting a Scanner to start capturing images, be sure not to overbuy or get too caught up in scanner specs and features and focus more on what it is that you need to meet your specific requirements.

With today's technology, most document scanners are capable of producing fairly uniform images, and many of the features that are touted are of little or no value to the user. While it is true there are many advanced capabilities that are available for scanning and capturing data from imaged documents, Most people simply need to be able to scan a file, attach some very simple metadata, and retrieve that file when it's needed later on.

There are really three important charecteristics to consider:

Speeds - Scanner Speeds are measured by PPM, or Pages Per Minute at which a scanner will capture images. This is only applicable for scanners that have an Automatic Document Feeder, or ADF, as a Flatbed scanner will be largely dependent on the user that is working with the scanner. 

Feeds - Again, a scanner with an ADF (Automatic Document Feeder) will be more useful if you're capturing batches of files at once. For example, If you're looking to scan and save a 30-Page Contract, it's much easier to capture this on a scanner with an ADF than without one.

Price - Oftentimes, price is the key determining factor in selecting a scanner, and with good reason. For example, two scanners that have ADF's and run at 25PPM may vary greatly in price, and it may not be clear exactly why that's the case. You should take a close look at what Software is being included in the box, as that's often the source of the discrepancy. Keep in mind that good Software will help make the scanning process much easier.

Current technology has advanced to the point where most document scanners are interchangeable. They all feature similar optics and features, buy with so many different models to choose from, choosing the right scanner can seem overwhelming. At the end of the day, you need to consider how the scanned information will be used, and then compare speeds, feeds, and price to make an appropriate decision. 

Tags: Scanning, Scanners