Friday, February 28, 2014

4 Tips for Scanning Family History

Putting my family's history into digital form has been a goal of mine.  There is still a great deal for me to learn but here are 4 tips from me as I dive headfirst into preserving old family documents, records and photos.

  1. This was not the first thing I thought of but it should have been.  Have a plan on where all your new digital files will be stored.  Leaving them on your computer's hard drive or cell phone won't cut it.  Never have files in just one place.  That leaves them as vulnerable as the physical copies.  I have my files on my computer, a USB 750g Hard drive and eventually it all will be in the cloud somewhere too, Google Drive, Dropbox, etc (I'm shopping around).
  2. Fit your scanning options to your scanning obstacles.  I have Scanner Pro on my iPhone 5 for the times I am out and about (library, visiting a distant cousin with pictures).  The app works best in sun light and you can send files directly to Dropbox, Google Drive or Evernote.  
    As much as I like Scanner Pro it doesn't do the trick when I have a sizable stack of old pictures or newspaper clippings.  In those situations I use our printer/scanner, the Canon MG5400.  I stood in the printer aisle for at least an hour looking at reviews on my phone.  The Canon was the winner but I can honestly say I'm happier than I thought I'd be.  If I'm not doing anything else I can scan a picture/document every 1-2 mins.  I have operated the super fast/detailed scan monster that companies have that specialize in such things and I'm still happy with the Canon.
  3. Scan in TIF format and save to a do not modify folder.  Other formats can degrade much faster when edited.  I have not found an easy inexpensive way to change file formats post-scan so I typically scan each document once in TIF then again in JPEG.
  4. Stay organized.  If you are setup and focused on scanning it can go quickly and your history can end up in a giant pile or worse.  Whatever your organizational plan is, hold to it.  In my case much of the history is identified but not sorted.  I take a document from the unsorted box, scan, then properly file away as best I can.
Still a long way to go but I feel like I have a road to follow now.  Slowly things are getting documented, scanned and filed away as safely and appropriately as I can manage.  

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  1. Great post! I just wanted to suggest a bit of software that I like for converting from .tif to .jpg - IrfanView. Best feature - it's free! I scan my images in .tif, then open the "original" image with IrfanView and "save as" a .jpg. You can control the compression to keep the quality high while keeping the file size manageable. Just thought I'd share.

    1. Thanks for commenting. I will certainly try it. It can be nerve racking trying free programs like that without recommendations.