Save Storage Space On Your Online Backup

Save Storage Space On Your Online Backup

Data CenterWhen I was at the Evernote Trunk Conference this year, I ran into awesome DocumentSnap reader Brian.

As we were talking, he asked a number of questions/brought up a number of points that will be great for future blog posts and newsletters[1]. One of them can be paraphrased like this: “When you are using online backup, what do you do when you start to hit your storage limit?”

I thought this was an excellent question and something that I am sure a number of people run into. Whether it is hitting the free storage limit or the amount of storage you are paying for, how do you manage your storage?

Here are a few ways:

Choose what you back up

Most online storage providers have a default set of folders that get backed up, and I would suspect that most people never change that.

Go into the settings for your software of choice and take a look at what folders and files are actually being backed up. It may be that it is backing up a bunch of junk that you don’t really care about (or even worse, it may not be backing something up that you thought it was!).

If you are 150,000% sure that you don’t want that folder backed up, un-check it in the settings.

Scan at a smaller resolution

When you are scanning, quality is measured in dots-per-inch, or dpi. As a rule of thumb, the higher the dpi, the bigger the file will be. This can add up over time as you do more and more scanning.

I personally scan at 300dpi, but if you want to save space, you can drop your scanner settings down to 200dpi or even 150dpi. Just take a look at the output and make sure it looks OK to you, and remember that the lower quality that you scan at, the less accurate OCR may be.

There are ways to reduce the size of existing PDFs if you need to do that. Here are a few resources:

Scan at Black & White

For my scanned documents, I prefer to have them look as close to the originals as possible, but that is just my thing. If you want to save space, you can scan as black & white instead of color. Here are instructions to do it with the ScanSnap, but your scanner should be able to do something similar.

Versions and deleted files

Your online backup provider may keep a history of different versions of your files, and it may keep deleted files around for a certain period of time.

This is obviously a good thing: if you mess up by deleting or changing a file, you can go in and get it back. However, if you really really need to save space, you may be able to dial down how much of this history is kept.

Be careful with this one!

Pay for more storage

Your online backup is your protection. You can go crazy trying to stay under your limit, but at the end of the day, you don’t want to compromise your protection just to save a few bucks a month.

Do you have any other tips for saving space on your online storage? I’d love to hear them in the comments.

(Photo by NeoSpire)


  1. I love it when readers ask questions, because it usually leads to the best topics to write about.  ↩

About the Author

Brooks Duncan helps individuals and small businesses go paperless. He's been an accountant, a software developer, a manager in a very large corporation, and has run DocumentSnap since 2008. You can find Brooks on Twitter at @documentsnap or @brooksduncan. Thanks for stopping by.

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