As a smart business owner or manager, you probably already have a disaster preparedness plan in place for your company. And hopefully, as you were assessing potential risks, you remembered to include an emergency back-up strategy for all that paper in your filing cabinets or off-site storage locations.
Dealing with years of hard-copy records can be a daunting task. But losing them – particularly the important, historic or irreplaceable ones – could be devastating. One of the easiest and most cost-efficient options is digitizing your documents, and I’ve invited our electronic document management expert, Dennis Porter, to share his recommendations on how to get started with this process.
Before you panic thinking about all those stacks of paper, first determine which ones are really mission critical to your business. Chances are, the documents that fit into that category are a manageable amount.
The second step is considering your options with document management systems. I see most companies use the “from this day forward” approach. Another similar option is to go back to the beginning of your fiscal year and start there with scanning and indexing your documents. And while both of these are a great way to to jump into the process of electronic document storage, they leave out those old, mission-critical hard copies.
One way to address this issue is to combine the “from this day forward” method along with scanning any file that you may pull from a filing cabinet. If you have to pull it from a filing cabinet, you’re probably going to need it again someday. It’s already in your hand, so why not scan it? You’ll never need to pull it again, and your document management system will back it up.
To this you can also add a round-up of key historic documents and scan them at one time to ensure their protection.
Digital Storage Options for Your Documents
To ensure the safety of your electronic files not only in an emergency, but also on a day-to-day basis, you need a primary back-up system. Thankfully, digital storage space is cheap these days. A 1TB (terabyte) hard drive is less than $100 and can hold as much as 1000 filing cabinets. Other types of primary back-up options include multiple hard drives and a server. Your data should be mirrored, which means when you save a document, it’s copied to all your back-up systems.
You also may opt for an online service, such as Dropbox or Carbonite, as a redundant (or secondary) off-site back-up. These services provide a real-time or scheduled back-up of your data to “the cloud,” which is a fancy term for a secure, encrypted server on the Internet. You can use a tape back-up, but those appear to be going away as technology moves forward.
Finally, consider using a portable hard drive that’s plugged into a server by day and goes home with an employee at night.
If you’re wondering what the best option for your business is, talk to your IT services specialist.
How to Keep Scanned Files More Manageable
When scanning files, don’t scan at a higher dpi or resolution than you need. We recommend 300 dpi for most documents. Scanning a document at a higher resolution than you need just results in a larger file that takes longer to back up, upload, or access with document management services.
On the flipside, scanning a document at too low of a resolution will create problems if your system is trying to convert those documents to a “searchable” format. Look at your scanner setting. Don’t assume they are set at an optimal level.
If your business is located in Canton, North Canton, Akron, Youngstown or west of Pittsburgh, I would be happy to talk with you more about document management services and how they can benefit your company. Contact us to learn more.
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