Do you know your PDF from your TIFF?

PC vs Mac. Ketchup vs HP Sauce. Bristol City vs Bristol Rovers. As consumers, we’re spoilt for choice, which can make decisions tricky. When it comes to document management, the big choice is between PDFs and TIFFs.

So what’s the difference? Well, we’re very glad you asked, seeing as how that’s what this blog post is all about.

Let’s look at a few of the key characteristics of each one…

The PDF aka Portable Document Format

According to its inventor, Adobe, a PDF is “a file format used to present and exchange documents reliably, independent of software, hardware, or operating system.”

PDFs are by far the most accessible file format. Everyone has a free PDF reader on their computer, so there’s no need to buy any new software, or even faff about with a free download.

And if you should upgrade to the Pro version of the Adobe Acrobat software, you’ll be able to access all the other great functions that PDFs have. Things like links and buttons, form fields, audio, video, and even business logic.

Oh, and PDFs can also be signed electronically, so you really don’t ever have to print them and create unnecessary paperwork. Ideal if you’re aiming for a paperless office.

Fun fact: The PDF was developed as part of The Camelot Project, which was created by Adobe cofounder Dr John Warnock to launch a paper-to-digital revolution way back in 1991.

The TIFF aka Tagged-Image File Formats

The TIFF is “a flexible raster image format” – but don’t worry too much about deciphering that. The truth is that TIFFs are most often used by people like designers who need all of the detail that a raw file would contain, in order to manipulate the image. Put it this way – if you need a TIFF, you probably already know what it is.

Because of the information the files contain, TIFFs are bigger than PDFs, so they take up more digital storage room. The other downside of using TIFFs is the fact that you’ll need to source and possibly pay for software in order to read them. Back in the old days (yes, we do remember them!) every PC had a TIFF reader as standard, but as they say, there’s nothing as constant as change.

So what does all of this mean to you? Well, just that when you have your documents scanned, it’s worth having a little think about how you want to use the scanned files and which format will suit you best.

If you need any more guidance around your specific needs, just give us a call and we’ll help you make the right decision. And we promise not to use any more jargon than we have to!

Check out the tech on that!

Scan Film or Store - check out the tech on that!If there’s one thing the document scanning industry does well, it’s technology. We might not go as far as to say we love the machines we use to scan our clients’ documents, but we certainly like them a lot. (Oh, who are we kidding – we love them.)

It’s understandable that if the only scanner you’ve seen is the one that comes as an integral part of your office photocopier, you probably don’t think they’re all that flash. But if you were to visit us at our offices in Bridgwater, Somerset – which, incidentally, you’re welcome to do any time – you’d see they’re exceptionally clever bits of kit, with all sorts of extra features that make them really rather useful indeed.

You see, we may be an old fashioned bunch who believe in things like personalised customer service (remember the old lady we picked up from the train station recently??), but when it comes to technology, we’re giving the Silicon Valley kids a run for their money. Here are three of our favourite scanners (and the reasons why we love them)…

The Book Eye Pro 4

This German-built machine is the one we use to scan books that need to stay intact. Featuring a multi-angled base plate and moving scanner head, it can deal with the most delicate of volumes without damaging the binding, plus flat items of up to A3 size. Each page is turned by hand – with cotton gloves, in the case of delicate items – so it’s not a quick process, but the results are worth it. We’ve used ours to scan everything from ancient manuscripts and 150-year-old old leather bound council records to collections of vintage football magazines.

The flashy bits:

  • In-built software takes out the unsightly ‘buttock crease’ (you know what we mean, right?) and flattens out the image.
  • The same software can enhance the image if necessary, and can cut a double page image into its single page components.
  • Because there’s no need to feed the originals through a roller, it can scan thicker items too, such as art canvases.

Why you should love it: Using this bit of kit means you don’t need to have your books or ledgers taken to pieces in order to be scanned – even the spines will stay perfectly intact.

The OCE Large Format Scanner

For technical drawings, architectural plans and anything else above A3 size, this is the machine you need. It can take documents of up to 36 inches wide and 15mm thick, but here’s the thing – there’s no limit on length. So we can scan documents like hospital ITU charts and 25ft long aircraft drawings with ease.

The flashy bits:

  • Single camera and mirror formation ensures super accurate colour capture.
  • Preset modes can be used to scan non-standard documents such as blue prints, transparencies, dark originals etc.
  • Special configuration takes documents up to 15ml thick so we can scan items like mounted artwork.

Why you should love it: If you regularly deal with large format documents, this is the machine that will enable you to create a digital archive – and save yourself a awful lot of storage space.

The Kodak i4600

This is our main volume scanner. It will knock out around 40,000 images a day, which we think you’ll agree is pretty darn quick. It can do colour, black and white, and greyscale scanning up to A3 size and is as accurate as it gets, outputting images as PDF, jpeg or TIFF files.

The flashy bits:

  • Creates super high res pictures up to 1200 DPI (as a comparison, glossy magazines tend to use pics of around 300 DPI quality).
  • A super accurate alarm system to prevent more than one page going through at a time.
  • Built-in OCR (optical character recognition) software, which means you can search your scanned digital files for text in up to 50 language.

Why you should love it: This is the reason we can turn your bulky, possibly chaotic archive room into a state of the art, easily accessible digital archive, without taking several months to do it.

If you fancy having a gander at our beloved tech for yourself, and finding out how we can use it to help you create a digital archive of your paperwork, get in touch today.

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How to give your storage a health check

March is a good time to get stuff in order. After all, it’s the start of spring. So, you know, spring clean and all that. Actually, your paper archives should be in order all year round but if you’ve been looking for something to give you the push you need to get your storage organised – and you missed the ‘New Year, new start’ one – then this is as good as any.

A good storage system is the kind of thing you don’t tend to notice. Because it’s good, so you can get on with whatever it is you’re meant to be doing and not actually have to think about it all that much. That’s what it’s meant to do – support the smooth running of your business.

A bad storage system, however, will demand your attention like one of those inane charity muggers that accost you with a toothy grin and an insincere compliment before guilt-tripping you into spending a week’s grocery budget on saving a rare species of giant South American ant.

When your paper archives are improperly stored, files can go missing, get destroyed, or wind up in the wrong hands (not ideal if the information you’re storing is sensitive). No one needs that kind of stress in their lives. So while giving your storage a health check probably isn’t high on your list of fun ways to spend your time, it’s really worth thinking about in order to save guaranteed hassle and potential disaster.

And it doesn’t have to take long. Just ask yourselves these questions…

How long does it take you to find things?

Your time is valuable. If you’re spending more of it than you have to trying to dig out the quote you sent that big client last quarter, or wading through endless sales reports to get hold of the one you need for that big presentation, your storage system needs a rethink.

How often do you need to find things?

Endless archive boxes stacked high on top of one another are all very well* if you don’t need to get to their contents outside of an audit inspection. But try and use a system like that on a daily basis and someone is going to end up signed off work with a bad back. (*Actually they’re not – that’s just dangerous.)

Who knows how to find things?

Ah, Bernard – such a useful chap. Knows the archives like the back of his hand. Only Bernard’s on holiday / off sick / decided to move to Thailand and live in a shack on the beach. Now what? Relying on one person who understands your storage system is very dangerous indeed.

Once you’ve found what you want, does it get put back properly?

No one likes filing – except maybe Bernard, but he’s off in Thailand. But a document storage system is only as good as the people who use it, and if even one person has one lazy day, you could end up losing something vital.

How easy is it to access your storage?

We’ve seen some storage rooms that are harder to get into (and out of) than a Crystal Maze-style locked room mystery. A dodgy loft that can only be accessed by ladder, or a tiny room piled high with unstable archive boxes, is a health and safety issue just waiting to happen.

How safe is your storage?

From thieves, fire, flood, nuclear attack, alien invasion. As we mentioned in our recent blog post on data security, more than 60% of companies never recover from a major loss of data. Then there’s the potential problem of rats, mice, birds and even wasps, who like nothing better than to use strips of conveniently boxed up paper to make their homes.

What are the conditions like?

Another danger to your stored paper archives is moisture. A damp basement is really not a great place to store anything made of paper. Lighting is another factor. While you want to ensure there’s enough light for you to access your records without the need of a flashlight, some printed materials can degrade with the wrong type of light, especially anything printed on thermal paper.

So, the solution? You could reorganise your paper archives on site. You could get someone (us, we mean us) to store it for you in a 24-7 monitored, security protected, climate controlled environment with trackable barcoded boxes and an on-demand delivery system. Or best yet, create a digital archive that you can access at the touch of a button, before destroying or storing the originals (we can do that too, by the way – the digital stuff, and the secure destruction).

Want someone to provide you with a free assessment of your current storage systems and paper archives? Give us a call and we’ll help you protect your documents properly.

Need some help? Try our scanning calculator!