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What is the Cloud and how can it help your Business?

what is the cloud
What is the Cloud and how can it help your Business?

“The cloud” is a commonly used term, but very few people actually understand it. So what exactly is the cloud and how can it benefit your business?

Let’s start from the beginning. The first thing you need to understand about the cloud is that it is not a physical thing. The cloud is a network of servers used to host information, files, applications etc., and the chances are, you encounter the cloud daily. From Google Drive to iCloud, any time you store information without using up internal data, you're storing information on the cloud.

The term “cloud” was first used by Professor Ramnath Chellappa in 1997, with Salesforce becoming the first site to deliver applications and software over the internet in 1999. However the cloud didn’t gain mainstream attention until 2006 when Amazon launched its own cloud computing platform called Amazon Web Services (AWS). Providing online services to websites or client-side applications, companies in over 190 countries worldwide companies use AWS to host traffic and data. Social media sites such as Instagram and Pinterest use AWS, as well as thousands of start-ups and larger businesses.

Some servers provide an online service.

Adobe is a great example of this. They no longer issue their software via disks, instead users must pay a subscription to their services via the Adobe Creative Cloud.

Other servers are responsible for storing storage

The Creative Cloud for example lets subscribers upload their work to the cloud, which consequently gives them access to their work from anywhere in the world. Social media sites such as Instagram also use this type of server to store images.

What are the benefits to working in the cloud?

In the past people ran applications or programs from software downloaded onto a physical computer or server in their building, however the cloud allows people access the same kinds of documents, software, etc. through the Internet. A business’ decision to move to the cloud is usually financially-motivated. Instead of buying their own hardware every couple of years – such as internal servers, hard drives etc., the cloud allows companies to simply pay for what they use, offering the flexibility to up or down-scale as necessary. Computers have allowed workers to be more efficient in recent years, and the cloud has played a large part of that. For example, if your company needs to quickly access to more resources, the cloud makes it easy and quick to do so.

How big is the cloud?

No one knows exactly how much space can be provided by cloud-based services. However, it was estimated in 2012, that 763bn floppy disks (remember those?) could fit into the cloud.

How secure is the cloud?

It has long been debated about whether the cloud is less secure than storing data on premise, and thus the idea of storing personal information somewhere “in the cloud” does make many people wary. However large companies – like Google – are responding to people’s concerns by stating that it would automatically encrypt data for paid cloud storage service users. As developments continue to progress, the cloud’s security will undoubtedly be increased in order to cope with demand and put users’ minds at rest.

Columbia University Have Digitised an Anatomy Flipbook

digitised flipbook header
Columbia University Have Digitised an Anatomy Flipbook

(hover the cursor over the images to see in full-size)

Preservation of delicate documents

digitised flipbook 1 sm 1The public now have online access to the beautiful and insightful human anatomy flipbook ‘Catoptrum Microcosmicum’. First published in 1613, the historic document has been captured electronically and scanned to pdf by Columbia University in order to be digitally archived and prevented from further damage. The result is an impressive and rare look into how the world, and the human body, was viewed all those years ago.

Restoring to its former glory

Although not dating back to the original publication date, the document scanned was a 1661 edition and still showed signs of wear, tear and aging. Dark stains were lightened by applying moisture then delicate suction to lift away any stain particles. Whilst we are unsure whether or not any post processing was applied to the flipbook once it was scanned, we know that this is another great way to return old documents to their former glory.

Conserving original features.

digitised flipbook 2 small

The beautifully illustrated book explains what lies within the human body, by presenting a human figure and removing layers of anatomy to reveal it piece by piece as each page is turned. The online version of the document preserves the original physical aspect of the book by being presented in a format that allows the user to also turn each page on the screen, with a click of a mouse. Try it out for yourself and browse through the full flipbook here.

Archiving interest

digitised flipbook 3 smallWhilst it is inevitable that the anatomy described within the flipbook is not medically correct by today’s standards, it is useful to have access to historic educational, scientific and medical records such as this, even with the 200 year old grafity. Fake moustaches aside, the flipbook is a delightful yet bizarre find which we are sure will capture the imagination of many. Now it has been captured digitally, this document will be stored and available to see for generations to come.

Pearl Scan Heritage Scanning and Digitisation

At Pearl Scan we offer bespoke services to digitally archive historic documents, including books, manuscripts, newspapers or other fragile documents (Such as a flipbook!). We have the expertise and facilities to produce high quality, text searchable images from a wide variety of projects and documents. Fragile documents are treated with extreme care and ensure all images go through intensive quality checks to ensure we produce a document to digitally preserve each piece in the highest quality.

Microfiche and Microfilm Storage is Past its Sell-by Date

microfiche microfilm scanning

Why Microfiche and Microfilm Storage is Past its Sell-by Date

Microfiche and microfilm were once brilliant storage solutions, as they effectively compacted images and other documents into small reels. However, in 2016, these kinds of archives are completely outdated and are preventing organisations from offering the cutting edge technology now available. Read on to find out why microfilm and microfiche is past its sell-by date – and what you can do to rectify your archives.

It’s expensive

The reels themselves are actually really pricey, which doesn’t make microfiche or microfilm a cost effective storage solution. You also need special machines to read the reels, which are also costly and old fashioned.
Difficult to update
Microfilm reels are difficult to update, so adding new documents or images isn’t really an option. This is inconvenient, not to mention once documents are on the reel they can only be viewed, not edited.

Takes time

Retrieving data which is stored on microfiche or microfilm is quite the task. First, you have to find the reel on which the certain document is stored – which could be in a room stacked with them. Once you find the right one within the filing system, then you have to take it back to the machine and view it through the microfiche or microfilm reader. Overall, this is very time consuming and not effective, especially when compared to digital retrieval.

Vinegar rot syndrome

The negative strips of the reel have been found to deteriorate over time. Microfilm reels start to deteriorate, and give off a ‘vinegary’ smell, hence the name. Once this happens there is nothing that can be done to protect the data, as time literally disintegrates the material.

Risk of theft and loss

Some microfilm reels and microfiche storage can get lost or misplaced over time. This can be devastating for libraries or cultural societies, which have tried to preserve history. There is also a risk of theft, which is the same for any hard copy documents or artefacts.

Time to Digitise Microfiche and Microfilm

There is one simple solution which removes all these disadvantages about microfiche and microfilm storage – digitisation. By using a microfiche and microfilm scanning service, all documents and images can be transferred into a digital document. This will safeguard it from loss, theft and damage caused by deterioration. It also speeds up the process of viewing what you’re looking for, and it’s more affordable to create a digital archive than many think.
Chat to Pearl Scan today and find out how you can make sure your storage is ready for the digital future.


How to Scan Invoices Without Investing in Software


How to Scan Invoices Without Investing in Software

There’s no question that digitally storing your invoices is far more advantageous than storing them in paper form. Digital information can be easily searched, accessed, and even analysed. Your digital invoices can also be backed up on discs or to the cloud and stored indefinitely.

So, you know that scanning your invoices is better than relying on physical paper copies. That raises the question, “Should we scan in-house or use an out source service?” There are numerous reasons to choose a service for scanning your invoices. Here are some of the most critical.

Streamline your daily operations

Scanning in-house adds administrative tasks for your staff to tackle. Granted, storing your invoices digitally will streamline other aspects of your operations. However, if employees aren’t adequately trained or prepared to handle these new administrative tasks initially, you may find that your daily operations aren’t benefiting as much from digital invoice storage as you anticipated.

An invoice scanning service is a great solution. The administrative aspects of scanning your invoices will be almost completely handled by a professional and accredited scanning bureau. Not only that, but a scanning bureau service like Pearl Scan is much more efficient at these tasks—that’s our business, after all! This frees your employees from administrative tasks so that they can concentrate on your business, upping productivity.

Staying up to date on software and equipment

The information obtained from any document that’s been scanned is only as good as the scanning software used to scan it. Not only is professional software for these purposes quite expensive, but it also is frequently updated and improved upon. That means you have to choose between using the most effective and efficient software, or continually investing more in top of the line software.

When scanning documents is your entire business, however, staying up to date on software is a must. Pearl Scan, for example, offers a multitude of different invoice scanning services. Using cutting edge technology means getting the most from your scanned invoices.

That’s out of reach for many small businesses, or simply not a practical use of capital for larger businesses. But by using scanning services to scan your invoices, you’ll know that every project, large or small, is scanned by the best, using the best software and equipment.

Free your employees from the chore of scanning and perhaps using out of date equipment, and free your company from excess expense by using an invoice scanning service like Pearl Scan.

The Common Benefits of Paper Free Business

paperless office man
The Common Benefits of Paper Free Processes

Paperwork may soon be an archaic term. Many organisations are already going fully paperless, with hardcopy “originals” being the exception to the rule. So much can be accomplished completely within the digital realm that the question keeps cropping up: Is it time for everyone to take the leap and leave paper behind?

Well, the time of the paperless office may not be here just yet—but it is coming. In the meantime, it is important to analyse our paper-full processes to determine where and how going paperless can help. And not least in terms of importance, putting paper aside is good for the environment and creating a sustainable future. But ditching wood pulp comes with plenty of other advantages, too. Here are a few:

Improved Searching/Sharing of Documents

AIIM (Association for Information and Image Management) reports that the number one driver for organisations to choose to scan and digitally capture their data is simple: to improve the sharability and searchability of their documents. There’s simply no way for a file cabinet to compete with a database in terms of these two features. If you’re old enough to remember thumbing through a card catalogue at the library, you know just how tedious such a process can be—it’s a productivity killer. If libraries know better, shouldn’t businesses? More and more, the answer is yes.

Faster Customer Response

When asked what the benefits were received by businesses after going paperless, AIIM found that the number one advantage was quicker internal and external customer response. No one in any forward facing organisation can deny that customer communication is undoubtedly one of the most critical aspects of doing business.

Cost Savings

Biel’s Information and Technology Systems’ Dennis Kemper points out that cost-savings are another big benefit. There’s simply no comparing the labour, printing, and storage costs of digital versus physical documents.


There was a time when locking a document in a safe was considered top security—today, with encryption, high-security servers, and the cloud, a safe seems woefully inadequate. And that’s only in the face of serious disasters and theft. In reality, far more documents are simply lost or damaged by everyday occurrences—and going digital can ensure that a document can always be recoverable.

Going completely paper-free may seem daunting, but for most businesses it’s a long-term goal. By weaning ourselves off of paper-oriented processes now, and taking advantage of technological advances that makes transferring to a paperless future easier by the day, we can achieve greater productivity and higher standards.