What Is the Digitization of Files?

File digitization helps modern workplaces lower operating expenses by streamlining their information organization. Here’s how to find the right solution for your business.

Our work lives have become increasingly digital. As more and more knowledge workers move to remote work and hybrid work arrangements, it’s essential that important information be accessible from anywhere — not just for those who happen to have access to the right filing cabinet. However, many businesses still store many of their records, forms, and other documents in paper form, with archives stretching back years upon years (and shelves upon shelves). The digitization of files can not only free up space but also improve your ability to catalog and access all of your documents whenever you need them.

File digitization has become increasingly common for enterprises and enterprising individuals who wish to reduce the risk of losing essential information to potential forms of loss such as water damage, fading ink, and accidental discarding. Fortunately, a healthy market of document digitization devices and file digitization services offer the means to scan, preserve, and protect information. Here’s how the digitization of files can improve your business.

Find out more about how digitization can reshape your business for the better with our guide, The Complete Guide to Digitization.

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What does it mean to digitize files?

Digitizing files is taking a physical document, like a printed contract or a photograph, and scanning it to create a digital equivalent. Not all scanners and scanning software handle the task in the same way, however. For instance, some scanner suites stop at simply turning documents into static image files. That can be helpful for preservation but is less useful for quickly parsing the large quantities of information that can rapidly be accrued by even modestly sized business.

For a more efficient digitization process, it’s best to prioritize scanning solutions that feature built-in optical character recognition capabilities (OCR). OCR makes it easy to turn documents into editable files such as word processing documents, spreadsheets, and PDFs. Digitization allows you to save your receipts, bills, and other materials as files on your computer or in the cloud, sorting them by year, file type, client, or beyond — those same OCR capabilities can even let you search within documents instead of just by file name or other metadata.

Did You Know? The fi-800R is only 4 inches deep and less than a foot wide, making it a great option for smaller jobs and spaces.

Why should I digitize my files, and what types of media can be digitized?

Physical media decays over time and often quickly unless it’s stored in museum-quality conditions that are unrealistic for most workplaces. Physical media is also at risk of being one flood, fire, or other natural disaster away from loss or destruction. With the frequency of costly weather events only increasing, this is a pressing concern for businesses. Even assuming perfect conditions both inside and outside your building, simply storing all of those documents takes up a lot of space. Thankfully, digitization solves this issue as well.

Today, everything from VHS and cassette tapes to paintings and photo negatives can be converted into digital formats. Paper media such as tax returns, mail, and invoices, are some of the easiest to digitize with a modern scanning device. In addition to being convenient, digitized files are also much easier (and less costly) to store: simply digitize the documents, store them in a secured and encrypted location whether in the cloud or on-premises, and shred the originals.

What do file digitization services offer?

A range of dedicated file digitization services offer outsourcing support for businesses that need to process and dispose of larger quantities of paper documents. These services typically begin with an assessment of the company’s digitization needs, followed by an intake process (whether via shipping or in-person pickup), sorting, scanning, processing through optical character recognition software, and delivery of the final digital files.

While these services provide a fast way to catch up on digitizing a large backlog of paper documents, they can be costly to rely on over time. Taking sensitive documents outside of the limits of your organization also introduces another potential point of failure for security, so it’s important to weigh the risks and benefits beforehand.

Did You Know? The fi-8170 is a PCMag Editors’ Choice. Click here to read their review.

We recommend the fi Series scanners

The fi Series scanners includes a range of options that make scanning your documents easy. Is speed a factor? The fi Series scanners can digitize at rates of up to 280 images per minute. Does your company have a substantial number of files in total? The highest-capacity fi scanners can handle duty cycles of 120,000 pages per day with minimal need for employee intervention.

Ricoh scanners are sleek, quiet, and sized to fit well in your current workspace — likely taking up much less room than the paper they will quickly help digitize. Check out our entire range of scanners, where we believe you’ll find the ideal machine to meet your office needs.