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  1. #1
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    Anybody have any experience with archiving?

    Does anyone have any experience with digital record archiving, as in turning paper records into digital? If so, what were your experiences and what advice can you offer someone considering this?

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    Spelling Snob Hobartlemagne's Avatar
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    I use a HP 4215 officejet. Its made to be used as a printer/scanner/fax, but I only use it as a scanner. The best part is- you can load a stack of paper and it will feed like a fax machine does. We save the documents as PDF files and shred the paper after scanning.

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    phony collective progress x136's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BugsInMyTeeth
    For standard paper sizes, most modern copy machines will scan, and dump to PDF.
    Yep. If it's a pile of 8.5x11 sheets, a modern Xerox with a scan unit will make your task much quicker and easier.

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    On my TARDIScycle! KingTermite's Avatar
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    Can't say much that hasn't been said already. A modern Xerox will copy/scan files to PDF for you. If you don't have a nice modern Xerox type copier, then your company should probably look into a copy service (like Kinko's or Pro Copy) to see if they can do it for you. Depending on how much you have to archive, this may be more cost effective than paying an employee to spend hours/days/weeks doing this (depending on the volume).
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    I make sure to dump to PDF-A, a specific type of PDF which is intended for long term archiving of documents.

    +1 on the Kinko's suggestion, assuming the items being archived are not highly confidential.

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    Do you want basic archiving or a fully functional system? That would include things like OCR, field capture, databse imports and analyzing of captured data, re-directing files to specific server locations for various departments and/or internet access.

    people sometimes use the term "archiving" when the mean something else, so just asking.

    Kofax is one of the big boys in the market. The one thing I like about it -- last time I explored it -- is that it uses microsoft basic for customizing and programming instead of some proprietary language. It might be more limited that way, but there's plenty of work arounds.

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    Quote Originally Posted by RadioFlyer
    Do you want basic archiving or a fully functional system? That would include things like OCR, field capture, databse imports and analyzing of captured data, re-directing files to specific server locations for various departments and/or internet access.

    people sometimes use the term "archiving" when the mean something else, so just asking.

    Kofax is one of the big boys in the market. The one thing I like about it -- last time I explored it -- is that it uses microsoft basic for customizing and programming instead of some proprietary language. It might be more limited that way, but there's plenty of work arounds.
    Yeah, I am talking about doing something like student records. So we would be talking about thousands and thousands and thousands of files with countless documents.

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    Is it strictly capture and store? (you can always process them later to make them useful) Or do you want access to the records now?

    Is this something y'all want to take on in-house?

    There's a learning and error curve that might make it worthwhile to send it to a shop that specializes in it. Keep in mind, that it's more than just a technical process, you have to develop a physical workflow -- get the boxes, grab a student's folder, un-paperclip/staple the files, un-dog-ear the papers, capture, put the papers back in the right order, in the right folder, back into the right box, send the box back to the right location. The operator not only has to do the manual task, but must do error checking on the fly... otherwise, you might lose data.

    At the very least, you'll need a two-sided scanner to avoid data loss unless your operators can absolutely make sure that every two-sided document (including handwriting on the backside) is captured.

    In addition to that, optimizing file size so data is able to be extracted while using no more computer storage space than necessary is important. Those files sizes add up quickly.


    I say send it out-of-house if you can. Look at kofax.com, they might have a listing of their authorized service bureaus. Also, they're not the only qualified company in the market. Just one that I remember.

  9. #9
    Chairman of the Bored catatonic's Avatar
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    By the way: keep two copies of the data, and keep one off-site (a safety deposit box is a good place). Also if using CD-R or DVD-R, make a new copy every year...regardless of claims, those media are not as durable as you think.

    Personally, I would use a flash drive for the offsite storage medium. Those tend to be pretty reliable.
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    +1 for Catatonic's advice.

    One company I worked for had financial records on their machines, which had to be archived for seven years for tax reasons.

    So, one copy of the archive resided permanently on a large drive array connected to a Retrospect backup server. Two tape backups were made (one being rotated offsite weekly), and finally, all records were also stored in hard copy in a secure location, so if something really bad happened to all the computers, there was a human readable record of everything in a bank vault.

    Computers can fail in ways which will astonish experts. I've seen expensive RAID systems with multiple drive controllers, and one bad drive controller trash all the stored data (the write buffer got latched somehow and overwrote random sectors with zeros.) I've seen tape drives get miscalibrated where only that tape drive could read tapes written to it. Finally, I've seen data backed up on a daily basis, then years later, the backup program that the data was archived with no longer exist.

    If the data is really valuable, consider printing it out, and having the hard copy stored somewhere secure as a last resort.

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