By Ben Ellard, special to Land Line
Even as the business world slowly goes paperless, you still have lots of business and personal documents to deal with. Here are three resources to help you send the docs you need to deliver and manage the ones you need to keep – for free, more or less.
Have a high-end, camera-equipped smartphone? You can use Mobile TSS (the TSS stands for Truck Stop Scanning) from uFollowit to copy and transmit your documents. Download the appropriate app for your phone and take a picture of, say, a signed delivery receipt. The doc image is transmitted to a server where it is automatically checked for quality and retained for 30 days. You can then download the image or email it wherever it needs to go.
Of course, while the app and the service are free, you still have to pay whatever data charges apply in your phone plan. You’ll find the iPhone app at the app store and the Android app at Google Play. Simply enter the search term: Mobile TSS. Paid versions of uFollowit offer more service options. To help you take high-quality document images, uFollowit offers the uScanit Clip Box equipped with battery-powered lighting. Just put your document in the box and snap a crisp, clear picture for transmission. The uScanit Clip Box folds down flat for easy storage and costs $24.95.
Need to access postal mail from home while you’re on the road? Or does everything have to wait until you get back? You can have important mail sent to an assigned address at a company like Equinox Mailbox (equinoxlife.com/mailbox) where they will open the mail, scan it, and make it available to you on a website. There you can read it, zooming in and out if you care to, forward it, or download it and print it out. Equinox charges a $10 one-time setup fee, but they will process up to 20 pieces of mail a month at no charge.
If you have only the most critical mail sent to your Equinox address – important bills for example – it should be easy enough to stay below that threshold. Beyond 20 pieces, Equinox charges $4.99 a month for up to 40 pieces of mail and $24.99 a month for an unlimited number. Equinox Mailbox is marketed to truckers, but you can also find postal-mail-to-email providers with varying price structures, among them earthclassmail.com and mailboxforwarding.com. Just in case you need to go the other way, www.netgram.com will print and send your email as genuine postal mail.
Once your documents are in a digital format, you can store them easily. But where? You can keep them on your computer or other device, but if anything bad happens, there go your documents. That’s where a cloud option like Dropbox comes in. Download the necessary software from dropbox.com, install it, and it will create a special folder on your computer or phone. Assuming you’re connected to the Internet, whatever you save to or drag-and-drop into that folder will be copied to a Dropbox server in the proverbial cloud. Of course transmission costs are on you. You can access files in Dropbox from anywhere, anytime by logging onto the Dropbox website.
At intervals, Dropbox saves files that have changed and retains those saved versions for 30 days. That means if you change a document in error, chances are you can find an earlier version of the same document on Dropbox – as long as you’re within the 30-day limit. There are lots of so-called cloud backup options, but Dropbox is among the most popular and easy to use. You can access up to 2 gigabytes of storage with a free Dropbox account. That will accommodate a lot of documents as long as you don’t save massive video files as well. LL