Years ago, an engineering firm I worked for increased the size of their office by half again the existing square footage. Most of that additional space would go to file storage. At the time I had just gotten my first scanner and was just beginning to learn the joys of digitizing photos and documents. Surprisingly, the scanner’s software even included an OCR function and it worked quite well. I was just beginning my fight with carpal tunnel syndrome and this OCR thing was a real blessing to me. The engineering firm was using computers for documents and drawings, and while they did appreciate the ability to grab an existing digital document and edit it rather than start each one from scratch, they hadn’t realized the potential of digital storage. In fact, we were often making multiple copies of paper documents and filing them in different places just so it would be easier to find them later. HUH?
One day I was given an old paper proposal – a rather large one – to be typed so they could edit it for a new project they wanted to bid. I drove home, scanned it , OCR’d it and drove back to the office in half the time it would have taken to type. They were delighted I had it ready so quickly, but this scanning thing was just a flash in the pan to them. I even prepared a cost analysis comparing the cost of storing their paper files (office space, cabinets, paper, etc.) vs. digital ones (disk storage, software, scanners, etc.). Even back then the digital solution was significantly less expensive – and that didn’t include the amount of labor spent filing, managing and finding paper documents. I was told it would be too disruptive.
It was time to start looking for a new job.
This week I bought my second external hard drive. My existing 1TB WD My Book is almost full now that I have more time for scanning and other digital projects. I got a 3TB WD My Book for less than $140. The Windows version is about the same price. These new drives take advantage of the USB 3.0 protocol which is significantly faster. If you have an older computer that only has USB 2.0 connections, you can still use these drives, but you won’t get the speed advantage. Once you upgrade your computer, the drives will perform at their top speed.
So now I have two drives – each the size of a good James Michener novel – sitting on my desk. A quick search can bring any document or photo to the screen in a matter of seconds. In addition to family ephemera, I’ve been working to take our household records paperless (or as close as possible) too. I should be in pretty good storage shape until I get ready to tackle my husband’s collection of slides. He’ll be buying that drive!
I still need to do some reorganization and remodeling to update my entire file system. Santa brought be a copy of Apple’s Aperture app for Christmas which I haven’t really put to good use yet because my photo collection needs some serious spring cleaning. Now’s a good the time to do that too. At least there won’t be any heavy lifting involved in this remodeling job.
I wonder if those engineers ever saw the digital light . . .