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Use your scanner to create the ultimate filing system

See how scanning lets you preserve and manage your most important papers with ease.

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Content starts here

»  Benefits of creating a digital archive
»  What you should scan
»  Set up your system
»  Prepare your documents
»  Scan your documents
»  Back up and store your archive
»  Availability
»  Additional resources
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Explore this article to learn how to prepare, organize, preserve, and make the most of your new digital filing system.

Benefits of creating a digital archive

Close-up of woman typing.

Important document files.

It’s amazing how quickly files and records can take over your office space!

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There are numerous benefits to having valuable information stored in a digital archive:

  • Easy access
    The ability to manage your filing system quickly and efficiently. No more sifting through stacks of dusty file folders—a digital archive puts all your information at your fingertips!
  • Save space
    Turn piles of paper documents into digital files, then ship those originals to storage. While hard copies of data take up valuable space, digital storage will only take up a few bytes.
  • Simplify searches
    If you’re using an HP All-in-One or scanner with Optical Character Recognition (OCR) software, you’ll be able to quickly search for scanned documents using a keyword or phrase.
  • Get security and peace of mind
    Keep digital files safe in a portable drive that can be stored in a safety deposit box or alternative location and serve as a backup if anything happens to your PC or the original paper documents.

What you should scan

Image of vintage marriage license.

Image of various tax forms

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Use your scanner to create digital copies of files, records, and important documents such as:


  • Birth, death, and marriage certificates
  • Social security cards
  • Passports
  • Medical records
  • Real estate records (keep closing records for seven years)
  • Investment records (keep as long as you possess the securities, plus an additional seven years)


  • Invoices
  • Contracts
  • Tax documents such as returns, W2s, and receipts (keep for six to seven years)
  • Bank statements (keep for about one month after receiving them)

Digital copies of these valuable papers have various helpful uses:

  • Travel: E-mail a copy of your passport to yourself before traveling, in case it’s lost or stolen.
  • Medical: Easily locate medical information for a variety of insurance purposes.
  • Small business: Use your digital invoice archive to keep track of employment records and payment dates.
  • Tax: Come tax season, easily gather and send your information to an accountant or tax professional.
  • General convenience: Avoid the hassle of photocopying and mailing records or files—digital archiving allows you the convenience of e-mailing your information.

Set up your system

Folders arranged on desktop.

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Before you begin scanning your documents, create a folder hierarchy on your PC’s desktop. Here are some tips to keep your digital searches short and simple:

  • Limit your main folders to around five, reserving these “top spots” for your most frequently used or most significant items.
  • Arrange sub-category folders within your main folders to ensure they don’t become digital versions of disorganized filing cabinets.
  • Clearly label your folders so you can identify what’s inside without having to open them.
  • Create a “miscellaneous” folder for temporary documents and files that may otherwise quickly turn into desktop clutter. 

Prepare your documents

Image of colorful folder tabs.

Image of OCR software disc.

Readiris Pro OCR software allows you to edit and search scanned documents.

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Gathering all your items before you begin scanning will help accelerate the process and keep you organized.

  • Collect all the documents and files you plan on scanning, and sort them by size and relevance.
  • Keep particularly small or lightweight documents (such as receipts) in a separate pile—they will need to be placed directly on the scanner glass and cannot be put through your scanner’s automatic document feeder (ADF).
  • Next, remove any staples or paper clips, and smooth out folds or creases in the pages to ensure a clear scan and avoid to paper jams.
  • Decide which file format to scan in: ­
    – Portable Document Format                   (PDF) is valuable when you want to preserve the original quality of what you’re scanning. To read PDFs, you‘ll need Adobe Acrobat Reader. However, unless you have Adobe Acrobat Pro, you will not be able to edit your file.
    – Optical Character Recognition (OCR) turns your scanned documents into searchable, editable digital files.

Scan your documents

A woman scanning with the N9120

The HP Scanjet N9120 document managment scanner offers both flatbed and automatic document feeder scanning.

Windows Fax and Scan program

Screenshot of mortgage record after it has been scanned into computer
Once your document is scanned and appears on your computer, save to the folder where you plan to store it.

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Place your documents either on your scanner’s flatbed, or, in the ADF (if you your scanner has one).

To scan your documents, use your computer’s scanning program, such as Windows Fax and Scan for Vista users. After you’ve scanned your document, save to the folder where you plan to store it.

Many HP scanners offer features that can help you scan your digital archive in less time, including:

  • Automatic document feeder (ADF)—Automatically feeds one page at a time into your scanner, ideal for large volume scans.
  • Automatic double-sided scanning—Automatically scans both sides of a document, eliminating the need for you to manually turn over a page to scan the other side.

Additionally, HP document management scanners come with a variety of software solutions for continuing digital archive management:

  • HP Smart Document Scan Software—HP scanner software that automates and simplifies scan settings and task workflows.
  • Readiris Pro—Optical Character Recognition (OCR) software turns your scanned documents into searchable, editable digital files. Check out OCR: The most important scanning feature you never knew you needed to find out more about this valuable and time-saving software.
  • ScanSoft PaperPort—Simple document management application to capture, manage, and share documents.
  • Kofax Virtual Rescan (VRS)—Image enhancement technology that inspects and corrects documents for alignment, brightness, contrast, and image clarity.
  • NewSoft Biz Card Reader—Converts the vital contact information on business cards into a searchable, digital database.

These helpful software applications make it easy to get organized—and stay that way! Check out our comparison charts below to see what software comes with the HP product that best fits your digital filing needs.

Back up and store your archive

Image of HP portable media drive and CDs.

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Once you’ve scanned and saved your documents to your hard drive, you’ll also have the opportunity to back them up onto one of the following:

  • Personal media drives—
    Connecting an HP Personal media drive to your PC allows you to enjoy an extra 160GB of storage and gives you a large, portable home for your digital files.
  • CD or DVD—
    With a CD or DVD, you may not get as much storage space as you would with a personal media drive, but you can easily label, organize, and transport your information.


Hero shot of the L7710.

HP Scanjet N7700 document management scanner.

Hero shot of the L7780.
HP Officejet Pro L7780 All-in-One printer.

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Create your digital archive using an HP document management scanner or an HP All-in-One.

  • HP document management scanners: Ideal for those who need faster print speeds and an automatic document feeder (ADF) to accommodate a large volume of scans. This line of scanners also comes with a number of additional document management tools, including automatic two-sided scanning and a variety of software solutions. Check out the HP Document Management scanner comparison chart to find the right one for you!
  • All-in-One printers: Great for those who would like scanning, as well as print, copy, and fax capabilities, but who don’t perform a high volume of scans. Visit the HP All-in-One printer comparison chart to discover which All-in-One best fits your printing and scanning needs.

Additional resources

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