The Best Way to Scan & Save Documents at Home

By Gregory Hamel

Saving personal documents in a digital form is one of the best ways to protect yourself against losing losing precious information in accidents like fires or malfunctioning hardware. There are several ways to store important data digitally.


The first step to saving documents at home is getting them on your computer in a digital form. The easiest way to do this is to buy a printer with a built in scanner. A scanner is a device similar to a copy machine, but instead of producing a paper copy, the scanner reads a document and produces a digital copy of it on your computer. In order to scan a document you simply place it face down on the scanning surface as you would to make a photo copy and press the scan button on the printer when it is connected to your computer. Then save the scanned image to your hard drive. Another way to save data digitally without using a traditional scanner is to take digital photographs of the documents. Digital cameras can produce images with a large number of pixels which can enable fine print to be viewed legibly by zooming in a digital photo format. To store documents this way, simply take photos of the documents and then save the photos on your hard drive as you would any other picture.

Back Up Storage

After you have copies of your documents saved to your hard drive, you should back them up to an external storage device so that you will still have them in case your computer crashes. It can cost hundreds of dollars to pay for data retrieval off bad hard drives, so making an external backup is a wise precaution. The simplest way to back up data is to buy an external hard drive and drag a folder containing all the documents you wish to store into the external hard drive. This will produce a copy of the folder, while leaving the originals behind. The external hard drive can then be stored in a safe location like a safe deposit box to avoid data loss due to accidents like fires. If you wish to make a portable copy of your documents, consider saving them to a USB flash drive. Copying data over to a flash drive works the same way as a larger external drive, but they are very small so they can be transported easily in a pocket or stored in smaller places like a desk drawer.

Online Backups

Another simple and effective back up for documents that can be done at home is to email the documents to yourself as attachments. This will save copies of the documents online, allowing them to be accessed anywhere. Copies can be made easily of online documents by forwarding emails to other email accounts. Many free email accounts give users several gigabytes of storage space, which is enough to store a very large number of documents and photos.