Technology Advisor Blog

8 Things You Need to Know Before You Buy a Scanner

Posted by Ann Westerheim on 3/11/11 11:13 AM

ScanSnap 1500 ScannerOne of the key technologies for your small business is a good document scanner.  Getting all your paper into electronic format is big step for getting organized.

If you're ready to go paperless, there's a lot to know so you can pick the right scanner for your business.  Document scanners can range in price from under $100 to thousands of dollars, so its worth knowing a few things before you start shopping.

1.  Flatbed vs Document Handler.  Decide what kind of scanner you need.  Flatbed scanners have a glass plate and a lid, and document handlers have a feeder mechanism to load the paper, many sheets at at time.  Many scanners have both capabilities.

2. Speed.  Look for how many pages per minute the scanner can handle.  You'll pay more for faster scanners, but if you plan to work with large volumes of paper, you'll need the speed.

3. One-sided vs Two-sided.  Can the scanner handle two-sided scanning or do you need to scan the back of pages separately?  This is also referred to as simplex vs duplex.

4. Print / Copy / Fax?  Does the scanner need to perform these other functions?  In many cases, the best solution is a dedicated scanner, but if you have tight space in your office, you may want to look for a combination unit.  If you're looking for a multifunction unit, consider if you need color printing.

5. Maximum Paper Size.  What is the largest paper size you need to handle?  Look for the maximum paper size - standard letter size (8.5"x11"), legal (8.5"x14"), or larger sizes (11"x17"). 

6.  Resolution.  Each scanner scans at a certain number of dots per inch (dpi).  For regular documents, 600dpi is fine, but you may need higher resolution if you work with photos.

7.  Network Connectivity.  Do you need just one computer to have access to the scanner or will you need networking capability to multiple computers?

8.  Software Capabilities.  With optical recognition software the scanner can save a machine generated document as an Word or text file that you can later edit, saving a lot of time.

Plan ahead, learn what the features mean, and you'll be happy with your purchase.

Tags: paperless, small business technology, scanner

Small Business Productivity/Security Recommendation - RoboForm

Posted by Ann Westerheim on 2/2/11 9:55 AM

With so many business and personal activities on-line these days, it's impossible to remember all the passwords.  We've all been trained to use "strong" passwords (6 characters or more, not a word in the dictionary, numbers & symbols), but remembering them is a big problem.

One of the productivity tools we like to recommend is RoboForm (www.roboform.com).  The slogan on their home page sums things up - "Put your passwords on speed-dial".  RoboForm automatically remembers your passwords, stores them securely, and then fills them in when needed, kind of like using a browser bookmark. 

When trying to remember complicated passwords, employees are often tempted to write them down and keep them in a convenient location, but this isn't secure.  In fact, the new Massachusetts Data Protection Law specifically addresses the storage of passwords by requiring:  "control of data security passwords to ensure that such passwords are kept in a location and/or format that does not compromise the security of the data they protect".  Bottom line, no more passwords on post-its under your keyboard! 

There's an entry-level free version of the program available, so this may be a great place to start and check it out.  Here is a link to the product comparison chart: http://www.roboform.com/how-it-works/product-comparison.

Tags: small business technology, Security, passwords

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