I have a four drawer filing cabinet that is mostly full of paper. Two drawers are full of genealogy documents: a mixture of my handwritten notes and of photocopies, all of them made years ago. I now scan electronically and transcribe onto a computer; I no longer collect paper. However, there must be several thousand sheets of paper in that filing cabinet that I made in "the old days" before I started computerizing.
I really need to scan those documents, get them into a proper genealogy database, and then file and organize them properly. The longer I procrastinate, the bigger the problem. I don't dig into that filing cabinet often but the last time that I did I noticed that many of the photocopies are fading. Some are already difficult to read and the problem will become worse the longer I procrastinate.
In reality, a bigger problem is the simple inconvenience: trying to dig through old papers is much more difficult than typing a keyword on a computer and having the proper document image pop up on the screen a second or two later.
Whatever the reason, I am not using the old paper documents any longer and they are deteriorating. I really need to scan them. However, there always seems to be "one more thing" that is more urgent and demanding my attention. The papers remain unscanned and fading.
Probably the best idea is to hire someone to scan them for me. The problem is finding such a person: I don't have grandchildren and I don't know any youngster in the neighborhood willing to do the task. Maybe I could find a college student...
Luckily, there are commercial scanning services available. They are not cheap, but they certainly are willing to do the job. Most of them wish to deal with corporations that have tens of thousands of pages to scan, such as insurance companies or hospitals. I don't have enough documents to scan to even appear on their "radar screens." My two drawers of paper may seem to be a huge problem for me but is miniscule compared to the customers the commercial scanners wish to attract. I suspect most of these companies will also want a minimum charge that is higher than what my budget allows. However, this week I found one company that solicits small scale work from private individuals.
Pixily is in the business of scanning documents and then placing them on a secure and private web site that requires a user name and password for access. You can leave the documents online where you can access them at any time or you can easily download them and store them on your own hard drive. You can even do both: download them and simultaneously leave an online copy for backup purposes. The documents are yours and you are in control of the disposition of each document.
The company accepts work of 50 pages at a time; each collection of 50 or more pages is a "batch." You can send in as many or as few "batches" as you wish and you are charged accordingly. The more documents you send per month, the cheaper the pricing on a per-document basis. However, the prices are not cheap: prices vary from $14.95 for a single batch per month to $59.95 for four batches per month. The higher the monthly fee, the more pages may be stored online, up to 12,000 pages (that would be many months' of scanning). Those prices include the cost of postage in both directions: sending in the documents as well as the return postage of processed documents. All paper documents are mailed back to you after they have been processed.
At any time you may increase the online storage by 100 pages for an additional 15¢ per month. You can also mail in additional sheets of paper to be scanned at any time for 12¢ per sheet.
Pixily does not care what kind documents you send. You can send photocopies of old records, hand written notes, tax records, photocopies of old books, grocery receipts, medical records, or most anything else up to 8 1/2 inches by 11 inches. Pixily is not equipped for oversized documents. I also would never send any delicate documents to the company; the scanning process is heavily automated and anything that is delicate may not get handled with the care and attention that I would want. However, the service should work well for most regular documents.
Pixily also accepts digital documents: you may already have PDF files or word processing documents or even screenshots of web sites that you want to store. You can upload the digital files to Pixily's servers and have the files stored there for backup purposes. Again, you can access those files at any time in the future from any computer that has an Internet connection. All you need is the proper user name and password.
Scanning my two drawers' of documents will cost quite a bit of money. Then again, it might actually get done, something that is not happening now. Pixily is also a great tool if you want to scan the various receipts that you collect for tax purposes; you can have everything stored digitally and organized by keywords (that you create) for instant retrieval as needed.
For more information about Pixily or to check out the company's free trial, go to http://www.pixily.com.
Now is the time to get digitized and go completely paperless.