How do I back up a diary?
July 17, 2013 9:12 AM   Subscribe

I have a diary I write in every night. If it were to be lost or damaged I'd be sad, as I like to look back in it. Any advice on how to back it up? If I'm going to scan it, how do I organize it on my Mac?

It's a five-year "line a day" diary (this one, from Chronicle) and thick. I have a scanner, and I suppose that's going to be the best (albeit tedious) way to copy it. But what do I scan it to? I don't just want 180 scans sitting in iPhoto.

Privacy isn't really a concern -- there's nothing juicy in there, and my illegible handwriting is all the protection it needs.
posted by The corpse in the library to Technology (8 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
If you have an HP Printer, HPScan will let you scan multiple pages into one PDF file, so you would not have 180 scans in iPhoto. But in a fire or something you could lose both the computer and the diary, so you also need a cloud backup.

Non-digital alternative: photocopy the whole thing, store the paper copy in a separate place from the original (safe deposit box, for example). So far in human history, the survivability of paper trumps any digital medium.
posted by beagle at 9:33 AM on July 17, 2013

I don't have a great backup solution, but going forward, would something like Oh Life appeal to you? They email you each day, you reply with as much text as you like, and it's stored for you, at no cost. You can attach images and look back at past entries as well.
posted by runningwithscissors at 9:50 AM on July 17, 2013 [1 favorite]

If you really don't want to deal with the hassle of doing it yourself, there are plenty of copy places that'll scan and/or copy it for you. They can create one high-quality PDF and put it on a CD or flashdrive for you, which is what I'd recommend. And bonus, they can make a physical copy and bind it for you while you're at it. I don't imagine it would cost more than $50 for 180 pages. (For reference, the copy place my work uses would charge $38 at most to make and bind a copy, and to scan and provide the electronic files for a 180-page document.)

If you don't want to spend the money, or give someone else any access to your diary, then you're stuck scanning it yourself. What kind of scanner do you have? Most come with their own software, and should have an option for scanning multiple pages to one PDF. HPScan definitely does. Alternatively, you can combine and convert the individual scans into one large PDF using Adobe Acrobat.
posted by yasaman at 10:02 AM on July 17, 2013

You could keep it all in evernote. Plus it makes all of your handwritten text searchable.
posted by covercash at 12:14 PM on July 17, 2013 [1 favorite]

I often do relatively large scanning jobs on the order of thousands of pages per job. 180 scans is really not that big a job when it comes to preserving your thoughts and memories. Yes it is tedious, but there are lots methods you can employ to cut down the time and make it less tedious. As a general rule, it is really worth the time taken to get good scans of the original files at a decent resolution that you can deal with later.

My policy with tasks like this is one page per scan file. The reason is that while more time consuming initially, it will allow greater flexibility later on. The goal is to get a library of raw, undedited, hi-res images that you can then later manipulate as you see fit. If you make choices like combining pages at the start, not only can it take longer but later on, should you want to isolate a page, you have to get into editing that page.

As far as a scanning service, yes there are plenty of good ones. However, I would caution you to shy away from places like Kinkos or the like. If you go with a scanning service, find one that just does scanning. Other companies (like Kinkos) are prone to delivering crappy scans.

First things first - you have a Mac and an HP Scanner.
Exactly what HP scanner do you have?
What version of the scan software?
What is your available drive space?

More to come based on your specific situation.
posted by lampshade at 12:40 PM on July 17, 2013

What kind of cell phone do you have? Hopefully an iPhone 4 and newer.

You can use the camera to photograph each page, then upload To Evernote.
posted by brinks at 2:21 PM on July 17, 2013

Response by poster: I have an HP Photosmart C4280 scanner / printer, which sounds like it'll do the job.
posted by The corpse in the library at 2:32 PM on July 17, 2013

The C4280 will work fine. It may not have the super high end resolution, but that is not important for this really. It will give you a decent scan and I am sure you can get at least 300dpi out of it.

I don't know the Photosmart software for Mac at all. However, you will benefit greatly from the following features if it is in the software....................
1) Ability to specify an output folder. It is just handy.
2) Ability to specify the suffix or prefix of the file name.
3) Ability to sequentially name the scans. In some apps you can specify to start the naming of scans starting at a certain number. If your diary has page numbers, it would be great if the file names of the scans corresponded.
4) One Button Scanning - depending on the scanner, you can set things up, then simply add the page to be scanned on the unit and it does the rest using the settings you specified. When doing multiple scans, it preferable to bypass having to go through the scan software each time. Instead, you place the page, close the cover and push a button. When it is done you repeat. All the scans go to the folder you specified and if you set up the numbering, it will have that too.

Other stuff……..
- Get GIMP for OSX to clean up the scans. I am not a Mac user, but it says it v2.8.2 , GIMP runs on OSX natively.
- Certain plug-ins will help you manipulate the raw images. RIOT is one of those plugins.
- If you want to combine the files into a PDF, there are a number of websites and apps to do that.
- If you feel adventurous, you can download Acrobat Pro XI for a 30 day free trial. Beware though, it is a big download.
posted by lampshade at 5:08 PM on July 17, 2013

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