Some of the most important information in your life is stored on the fragile, flammable paper copies stuffed in your file cabinet. Our document scanning service can help protect, sort and consolidate your vital records and important papers.
From fires and floods to new jobs and state IDs, it’s hard to ignore how at-risk and important some of your documents are. Don’t wait until disaster strikes to start worrying about your birth certificates and insurance policies – now is the time to protect them.
Below, we offer some tips on popular scanning apps and factors to keep in mind.
Important Aspects of Document Scanning
- Your document scanner should put out high-quality files that are easy to read and review. A scanning resolution of 300 dots per inch (DPI) should be fine for text, but be careful with aggressive file compression and cheaper phone cameras that might harm quality. And make sure your camera’s in-focus before you ‘scan’ anything yourself!
- File size:
- While your document scans should be readable, higher resolutions are only necessary for photos and film – not text. Files with lots of data take up more space on your storage device, and thousands of pages can add up quickly.
- File format:
- It’s common to scan to PDF instead of JPG during the document imaging process. Make sure you pick an app or service that gives you the option to combine multiple pages into one PDF file so you don’t have to open each page separately.
- Can your document scanner handle photos, too? Some of the best document scanning services and mobile apps are only good for printed text, and don’t capture high-quality images.
- In a world where your iPhone can turn off the kitchen lights from miles away, this factor’s easy to forget. Not all scanners work with every scanning program, or your own computer’s operating system. Some programs might need more storage space or processing power than your desktop can offer. Double-check your system’s specs and compatibility before making a big buy.
- Text recognition:
- More advanced document scanning apps can translate written words into computer-friendly metadata that makes them searchable. This feature is often called OCR (optical character recognition) for typed documents, and ICR (intelligent character recognition) or IWR (intelligent word recognition) for handwriting.
- Privacy concerns:
- If what you’re scanning includes sensitive personal or financial information, be careful when choosing a scanning method. Make sure you trust any service that’s handling your information, and be aware that some firms design mobile apps to store your files on their own servers – your data might be protected, but you’ll have no control over it.
Mobile Apps for Document Scanning
There are many mobile scanning apps on the market right now. Although most of their features are similar, a few seem to differ in the areas of shareability, photo capabilities, and privacy concerns. You can find a full review and comparison that covers several here, but we’ll take a quick look at three of the most popular:
Abbyy FineScanner can’t handle photos or send scans via fax, but it does offer text recognition. The app moves your scans onto the company’s own servers for processing; FineScanner claims your scans are transferred via secure connection, but use caution.
Scanbot Pro can’t fax your scans either, but it does handle photos and OCR. Unlike other mobile scanning apps, the scans stay on your device and don’t get placed on any third-party servers – unless you choose to upload them somewhere else like a Dropbox account.
A popular free scanning app that offers fax and OCR, but doesn’t capture photos. CamScanner uploads your files to its own servers for processing. The app’s fine print claims your information is protected, but its privacy statement mentions that some of its servers may be located in China. Be wary of any foreign government laws that could allow other people to access your data.
Dedicated Document Scanners
Mobile scanning apps are convenient, but they might not be ideal for your project. Imagine holding your phone still for hours to photograph thousands of documents, only to find out later that half of your ‘scans’ are out of focus.
Some document scanning projects need dedicated gear to get the job done right. There are two main types of scanners: sheet-fed and flatbed.
Sheet-fed scanners use rollers to pull your documents past a light sensor that captures the image. They’re often quicker than flatbed scanners, and fancier models can handle a stack of documents so you don’t have to hand-feed each one.
The sheet-fed breed is also prone to wear and tear, since the rollers can break and there’s friction between documents and the scanning sensor. That friction can also damage brittle or wrinkled paper, and excess dust and dirt from older documents can clog the rollers.
When you picture a document scanner in your head, you’re probably thinking of a flatbed scanner. Most flatbed scanners have a flat piece of glass – that’s the scanning area – and a hinged lid that lowers to flatten the document and block light from other sources.
Compared to sheet-fed options, flatbed scanners can often put out better-quality images and suffer less wear-and-tear from friction. Yet they’re also a bit slower and need a more hands-on approach, since most can only scan one 8.5-by-11” page at a time.
What’s the Best Scanner for Documents?
It depends on your needs and your budget. You can find some sheet-fed models in the $100 range, but they’re not ideal for photos. The better ones that cost hundreds also work with photos, and can scan a normal-sized document in roughly five to 10 seconds.
If you’re willing to spend a few hundred and don’t mind changing each page between scans, flatbed scanners might be your best bet. They can scan items at much higher resolutions, and some better models have lids with built-in sensors for scanning film like slides and negatives.
The EverPresent Difference
EverPresent’s document scanning service is here for you. We’ll gently remove staples, scan to PDF (single or multi-page files), optimize your scans for legibility, and sort your new digital records so they’re easy to find and manage.
Candidly, the highly automated and impersonal approach to bulk document scanning is not our thing – though it might be more affordable for very large (or very small) projects. Lots of mobile scanning apps and discount document scanners can make the document imaging process cheap and easy.
If your fragile, personal documents need some extra TLC – or maybe you have a few hundred photos you’d like scanned, too – you’ll love the work we do. Take a minute to fill out our contact form and request an estimate!