One More Article About “How to go Paperless”

I have written several times about the advantages of going to a paperless lifestyle. While such a move is good for most everyone, it should be especially appealing to anyone who collects lots of photocopies and even some original records. (I’m looking at YOU, genealogists!)

You can find my past paperless articles by starting at:

Now a new article by Ganda Suthivarakom and Erica Ogg in the Wirecutter web site (a service of the New York Times) supplies more information about the paperless lifestyle, including some items I never covered in my earlier articles. Items covered include:

  • Scan straight to the cloud
  • The ability to find your documents by keyword using optical character recognition (OCR)
  • Getting rid of any paper to reduce the chance of identity theft, which saw increased fraud reports in 2018, according to Federal Trade Commission findings
  • Good quality paper shredders
  • Organizing and backing up your documents
  • Tracking invoices and spending via an app or two (they recommend Scanbot Pro for both Android and iOS.

You can read all this and more at:


Not sure that doing away with paper and storing everything online is a sure preventive against identity theft – just ask all those who have been victims of hacking!

I would suggest that identity theft is MORE likely to occur if you DO keep everything in the cloud as it is less cost effective to raid an individual’s paper filing system than to raid an online database containing the records of thousands of individuals.

There is certainly an argument to keep backups of anything important – as Wirecutter says –

“Just make sure to back up your documents in more than one place. Ransomware can hold computer files hostage. Outages can make cloud drives inaccessible.”
It also has the suggestion to keep local digital storage – on a hard drive (preferably external to your computer so that you can carry that, rather than a bulky PC/Mac in case of need) or flash drive.

With the price of storage now, I also see no real reason to follow their other suggestion of purging old records. You should know by now that the one old record that you purge will be the one that you actually find that you need!!

Finally – please be selective as to what paper records you throw away. Old invoices are one thing – even if the tax man gets upset when you can’t produce it in years to come. But always keep things like photographs and letters relating to family history. Holding a tablet and looking at something my ancestor held does not quite give me the same buzz as holding the actual piece of paper


Dick, you will probably cringe at this, but I have settled on a system that keeps both digital and paper copies of my genealogy records. I have many original documents such as birth, marriage, and death certificates, and original photos, that I certainly don’t want to throw away after scanning. To those I’ve added printouts from my genealogy software, even census records and other documents that can be easily replaced. I file my paper documents in 3 ring binders and acid free sheet protectors. I code the papers with the same system I use to code my scanned copies.
My second reason for “keeping two sets of books” is for the convenience of my family. Though I prefer digital, if I’m ever going to get them interested in learning about their ancestors, they’re far more likely to leaf through my notebooks than to stop and learn the intricacies of Family Tree Maker just to get at the information. On the other hand, if they don’t have the space or inclination to store multiple notebooks, they could actually toss those and the genealogy would still be available to those who are interested. My Digital genealogy is saved online in an Ancestry tree, in various surname groups on FB, on OneDrive, an external hard drive, and much of it is on Find A Grave. (Paranoid?)
I’d like to think I have my bases covered as well as modern technology allows.
P.S. FWIW, I use Scanner Pro on my iPhone. It sends my scans directly to a dedicated folder on OneDrive. I can name the files as I go, or rename them afterwards and put them where they below. My workflow is to scan all first, then rename and move all.
I found a truly nifty accessory gadget on Amazon. It’s a photo box that eliminates the glare or shadows that often mar scans from window or overhead light. My engineer husband tried to build something to solve this problem, but none of his prototypes worked. This is a simple cardboard box, but solved a big problem for me. When not in use, it stores documents waiting to be scanned.
Search for. “Scanner Bin” on Amazon for more complete information.


    —> Dick, you will probably cringe at this, but I have settled on a system that keeps both digital and paper copies of my genealogy records.
    Not me. I think that is a good idea.
    I always recommend keeping MULTIPLE back up copies of everything that is important to you. Those copies also should be stored in different locations. Storing some copies on paper and other copies digitally sounds to me like a very effective method.


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