Thursday, June 25, 2009

Going Paperless at Home

Paper, paper, everywhere! Currently, I have four stacks (STACKS!) of paper that need to be dealt with or filed away. This doesn't include hubby's stacks of the bills and such that he takes care of. TOO MUCH!

Fortunately, my current office (and the last one) are "paperless" environments. We each have two computer screens at our desks, and with the exception of mailing things to clients, I may touch less than a dozen sheets of paper in one day. Everything happens via e-mail, the web, and specialized client management software. I even have a direct digital fax that goes straight into my work e-mail. I love it! So why not carry on this practice in my own home?

At work, our main document type is PDF. I played around with a few different programs at home this week, to try to find a cost-effective and storage-friendly piece of software that will scan directly to PDF. Of the few that I tried, Scan To PDF seems to be the best fit. This is from a UK-based company, and is super easy to install and use. While the other PDF makers were slow, grainy, and made rather large files (about 400 kb each), Scan To PDF was quick, sharp, and made files 10% that size. If I'm going to PDF every sheet of paper that comes in this house, I do not want them to be a half a meg each! 40KB I can live with :) Scan To PDF is fully functional from its initial download, and is available to register for $20. That's a bargain. Without registration, each PDF generated has a faint watermark across the page that says "Produced with ScanToPDF". It's not obtrusive at all, and for my archival purposes, I can certainly live with that (although I really do love this program, and will eventually pay to register it). Unlike Scan To PDF, some of the competitors' unregistered versions had very obtrusive things like giant red stripes on their generated PDFs. Scan To PDF is the way to go for our family's scanning needs.

Do you do this too? Get e-bills, pay them online, only to print a receipt on a piece of paper? No more. Anytime I have something I want to print for future reference, I use CutePDF. This is a great, free tool, that is also very easy to install and use. I tried Primo PDF before, but it was much too slow, and required too much clicking around. CutePDF makes it easy. Download and install the software, and CutePDF sets itself up like an additional printer on your computer. Instead of choosing to print a receipt off my regular desktop printer, I select the CutePDF "printer" instead. In a flash, CutePDF prompts you with a box to type the name of your new PDF file, and allows you to save it anywhere you like on your computer. Fast, easy, free, and saves trees. Green plus!

Now that everything's going to be scanned and saved in PDF, we need to talk backup. For a few months now, we've been using an online remote backup service from Mozy.com. Their software is so quick and easy to use. I highly recommend it to everyone. Even those of us on a tight budget can take advantage of the free 2-gigabyte accounts, offered by Mozy. Click though my link here, and get an extra 10% free! Then refer your friends, and you each get more space, too!

The software itself is very self-explanatory, and makes logical sense (which is more than I can say for 80% of the software out there). You can set Mozy to run quietly in the background, schedule it for a specific time/day, and customize the folders you want backed up with a simple click of the mouse. The initial backup takes some time, but after that, Mozy knows what has changed since your last backup, and only deals with those items. My most recent backups have taken anywhere from one- to six minutes, and run automatically, when my computer is sitting idle. Very handy tool.

If 2 GB isn't enough (and for us, it won't be), Mozy offers unlimited storage, for about $5 a month. Pay for a full year or more in advance, and it's cheaper. As a special incentive, Mozy is offering a special to mom bloggers: sign up for the unlimited account, blog about Mozy, and get a free t-shirt. There are some adorable baby shirts and onesies there. I particularly like the shirt that says "Working On Mommy's Next Blog Entry". Too cute :)

Scan, shred, and auto remote backup. Sounds like a plan to me ;)




Mozy t-shirts for Moms image courtesy of Mozy.com

6 comments:

  1. Hey your idea about going paperless is very useful and by the way, nice blog lay out you got here ^^

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  2. Why thank you very much :)

    This is now Version 3.0 of this blog. I've really enjoyed putting it together, and having this creative outlet available. I do thank the people at Blogger for making it easy for all of us to spend less time picking over code, and allow us to spend more time on our content :)

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  3. As an update, our scanning and PDF-ing is going really well.

    As an afterthought, I highly recommend a $0.99 security feature:

    Before scanning any documents that might contain personal information (i.e. account numbers), take a black Sharpie pen, and draw a line through those account numbers, prior to scanning. You know... just in case someone starts snooping around your computer who isn't supposed to.

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  4. This is a fantastic idea! My husband is always printing out receipts for his online transactions. Depending on the month, this kind of paper usage alone can take out a small forest! From now on, this is the way we'll go! Thanks for the tip!

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  5. I love all of these ideas! I am guilty of printing more than I need to. I've dabbled into kindle books on my iphone, but sometimes I just want to feel that paper in my hands. Maybe it's habit, I don't know. Love the blog, thanks for the info!

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  6. Hi! Happy SITS Saturday Sharefest!

    I was below you on the list so I stopped by. Your ideas are great! I do a lot of paperless at home. I am even scrapbooking my grandmother's recipes so that they are the computer rather than sitting here beside me on my desk. I'm sending them to all of my aunts so they can have them too. I'll check out Mozy.com in a few. Thanks for the ideas!

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