I’ve been hauling around boxes and boxes of notes from my past. Things from graduate school, things from college. Things I had poured years of my life into. As a result, I have a hard time throwing some of this stuff away, even though there’s a 99.9% chance I will never use it again.
Recently, I searched around for some kind of service to scan it all in for me for a price, but it appears that most of those places cater to businesses. Scanning all my crap on a flatbed scanner was depressing since it would be way too slow of a process. I even thought about renting storage space to store this crap in just to free up closet space.
Things changed during my brief tenure at a nuclear power plant, where I was introduced to a $5000 document scanner than could scan 90 double sided pages a minute (180 pages). It was crazy. It was also $5000. Sure it slowed down when you scanned at a resolution I would use (600 dpi) for archiving important stuff, but you could still chew through a binder of papers in 5 minutes or so. A little bit of research turned up their consumer version for $400, the Fujitsu ScanSnap ix500. I figured that would be small price to pay to allow me to part with some of my crap with no guilt, so I bought one. It scans about 30 pages per minute at 600 dpi, which is 60 pages if you are scanning in duplex.
This thing is amazing. So far in the two weeks I’ve had it, I’ve scanned over 5000 pages1, enough to fill a 12″ x 12″ x 24″ box. Most of this stuff was handwritten notes, written lightly in pencil on an assortment of paper types (legal paper, notebook paper, engineering graph paper, and printer paper). The auto adjustments for darkness are pretty much perfect and so far everything has come out great. Better than what I got from the aforementioned $5000 scanner. The software will also automatically remove blank pages, i.e., the back sides of paper if you are scanning in duplex. The OCR is pretty quick too, so you can get searchable PDFs. If you are on Windows (I’m not) you also get a full version of Adobe Acrobat X, which is a pretty nice program.
In addition to my old physics notes, I’ve been archiving old investment and bank statements, allowing me to shred that stuff and get rid of it. Once the years of backlog material is worked through, when a new bill or statement comes through, it will take about 20 seconds to scan it and file it.
This short review probably sounds like I’m getting paid to write it. I know I don’t normally write shit like this, but this is seriously a really useful purchase that will change the way I deal files. If you don’t have as big of a backlog as I do, I think Fujitsu sells slower but cheaper scanners. I figured I’d spend the extra money since after I finish my files, I’m going to work several other people’s files, and the extra speed will pay off.
Mostly scanned during the first week of ownership. ↩