Fastest Way to Scan Large Number of Photos at Home

My father recently decided to start scanning all of our baby and childhood photos using his HP flatbed scanner at home and quickly realized that it would take years to scan all the photos into the computer if he did it one by one. He then looked into buying some more expensive equipment that could scan more photos at a time and faster.

There are quite a few options out there for projects like this that won’t break the bank. However, you’ll still need to be ready to spend anywhere from $200 to $1000 if you really want to scan a large number of photos or documents at home.

You can use an online photo scanning service, which usually requires you to ship your photos to a company, either within the US or outside. The WireCutter already has an in-depth article on which photo scanning service is the best to use, so check that out if you want to go that route. These online services are also useful if you need to do any kind of photo restoration.

Best High-Speed Photo Scanners

The list below is not in any particular order, so look through each before you decide. Again, the emphasis here is on speed and decent quality. You can always get something like a Doxie Q for less than $200, but it’s way slower compared to any of the scanners below.

You only need this kind of power below if you need to scan thousands of photos or thousands of documents. It doesn’t make much sense for a small batch. After I finished scanning all of my photos, I continued using my expensive scanner to scan in all the papers my kids bring back from school.

Fujitsu FI-7160 Color Duplex Scanner

The Fujitsu FI-7160 is a top-of-the-line duplex color scanner that will blast through your photo collection in no time. It’s currently around $880, which is a pretty hefty price tag for a scanner.

It’s got a 4,000 page daily duty cycle and a 80 sheet automatic document feeder. It can scan up to 600 dpi, which is nowhere near the resolution of the photo-oriented scanners mentioned below, but still good enough for most people. The best part of this scanner in my experience is the fact that you can feed it photos of different sizes at one time.

You don’t have to worry about sorting everything out first or anything like that. Just dump the documents into the scanner and scan away. It also does a great job with documents and photos that aren’t perfectly smooth and straight. It can handle bends and crumbled papers exceptionally well, which really comes in handy.

Epson FastFoto FF-640

Another great scanner is the Epson FastFoto FF-640. This scanner claims to be the fastest photo scanner in the world (1 photo per second). Whether that’s true or not really doesn’t matter. It’s super fast and can scan at a high resolution (600 dpi).

The other big pull for this scanner is the fact that it is only $650, which is quite a bit cheaper than the Fujitsu. As long as you are scanning at least 1,500 photos, the Epson is worth the money as it’ll cost about the same sending the photos to an online service.

The software that comes with it is also intuitive to use and easy to set up. The Epson can only handle about 30 5×7 prints in the ADF, but it can handle different sizes at the same time. If you want to scan 8×10’s, you’ll have to do those one at a time, though. The Fujitsu can handle 8×11 and smaller prints all at the same time.

The color accuracy is not as good as you would get from a photo-oriented scanner, but it’s a worthwhile tradeoff if you need to scan a lot of photos fast. Also, the software is simple, but advanced users will find it too limiting. You’ll have to use another app if you want to fine-tune the photos.

Plustek Photo Scanner

If you don’t want to spend that kind of money, a cheaper option is the Plustek Photo Scanner, which comes in at $200. It can scan 4×6 photos in about 2 seconds and 8×10 photos in 5 seconds.

You do have to insert photos one at a time, but it keeps scanning without having to stop after each photo. The resolution is capped at 600 dpi, which is similar to the other scanners. The overall quality and color accuracy aren’t as good as the scanners listed below, but for the price and convenience, it’s not a terrible option.

Best Photo Oriented Scanners

The scanners listed below are geared more towards photo enthusiasts who need absolute color accuracy when scanning photos, slides or film strips. Quality is more important than speed for these scanners.

Epson Perfection V800/V85o Pro Photo Scanner

For those looking for absolute color accuracy and incredible quality and resolution, you best choices are the Epson V800 and Epson V850 Pro, which are $733 and $999, respectively. In addition, these are for those who need to scan slides and film strips.

These go up to a ridiculous 6400 dpi and have a lot of other advanced features to make sure there is minimal distortion when scanning the image. These scanners will also automatically touch up your photos to remove dust and scratches.

Even though they won’t be as fast as the ADF scanners above, these are still fairly quick because there is zero warm up time due to LED lights.

A cheaper option is also the Epson v600, which costs about $210.

Canon CanoScan 9000F MKII

The Canon CanoScan 9000F only costs $170, but packs a lot of features. For film, it maxes out at a super-high 9600 dpi. For everything else, it can go up to 4800 dpi. This scanner also uses LED lights, which means there is no warm up time. You can keep scanning back to back without stopping.

For under $200, it’s the cheapest, yet highest quality scanner out there. It has a Fare Level 3 feature which can remove scratches and dust, along with other enhancements, such as color restoration.

Hopefully, this gives you a good idea of the range and quality that you can get from different scanners on the market. If you want better photo quality, you’ll have to sacrifice speed. However, if you care more about speed, you have a couple of cheap options that will give you good quality results too. Enjoy!

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How to Store All Your Photos and Videos in the Cloud

Recently, I had some friends over and they were telling me about how they store all of their photos and videos on their computer or phone and don’t even make regular local backups to USB disks or external hard drives. This is definitely risky, which is why I consider it essential to keep a set of all your pictures and videos online in the cloud.

Uploading photos to the cloud has a couple of advantages over storing them all locally:

1. You can easily share the albums with others

2. You can access the photos and videos at any time and usually on other devices as long as you have an Internet connection

3. You have a backup of all your photos in case something happens to your local copy

I always have a local copy of my pictures and then have several copies stored in the cloud. Depending on what services you currently use, the best solution may be different for different people. In this article, I’ll try to cover some of the main ways to store your photos and videos in the cloud.

store photos in cloud

Before we get into details, I wanted to talk about the source for all these photos and videos. In my case, there are basically three ways I take photos:

1. From my smartphone

2. From my digital SLR camera

3. From my digital point-and-shoot camera

Photos and Videos from Smartphones

Storing photos and videos you take from a smartphone in the cloud is pretty straight-forward and there are a lot of options. For Android or iOS devices, you can use a variety of apps or built-in features to upload your photos and videos to the cloud, usually automatically.

Apple has iCloud Photo Library and it works fairly well most of the time. I’ve been using it for several years now and haven’t run into any major issues. All you have to do is purchase some extra iCloud storage and your media will be uploaded automatically once the feature is enabled.

For non-Apple users, there are quite a few options. The most popular choices here are Google Photos, Dropbox, OneDrive or Flickr. The Google Photos app is my favorite and I use it in addition to purchasing iCloud storage.

If you don’t use Google Photos or Picasa , etc., you can also use Dropbox. Dropbox is a service that basically lets you easily “drop” files into a bucket that is then available on any device or computer you have Dropbox installed on. And Dropbox has an app for every platform out there, including Linux, Blackberry, Kindle Fire, etc.

Dropbox also has an automatic upload feature called Camera Upload, which does the exact same thing as the Google Photos app. Any picture you take will be automatically uploaded to your Dropbox account when you open the app. OneDrive also works in the same way.

So these apps can basically take care of all your photos from any smartphone you own. They work on tablets, smartphones, desktops and on many other devices too.

If you install the desktop program on your Mac or PC, it will then automatically sync all those photos and videos to the computer too, so you have an extra backup on your hard drive just in case.

There are other apps like Facebook, but it doesn’t support automatic uploading of photos and videos. Still, I do upload photos to Facebook all the time, but I use Google Photos and Dropbox to store all my photos whereas I upload only a few good ones to Facebook. Facebook is not setup to be used as a backup of all your photos and videos.

Photos and Videos from Digital Cameras

Getting photos from your digital camera to the cloud is a little different, but not very complicated either. You pretty much have all the same options as mentioned above. The only issue with SLRs is that the files can be huge, especially for things like 4K video.

If you have a high-speed Internet connection that isn’t metered, then you can just drop all the files into one of your cloud synced folders and everything will be uploaded. If you are in the Apple ecosystem, you will need to use the Photos app in OS X to import the media into your iCloud Photo Library. However, large video files will quickly eat up your storage space.

The best option for large RAW images and super high definition video is external or network storage that is attached locally. I previously wrote about setting up your own cloud storage using a NAS device. With this setup, you don’t have to upload anything, but you can access your media from anywhere.

Personally, I have found that using some of these services in combination works out best. On my phone, I use Google Photos and iCloud Photo Library to upload my photos and videos.

For RAW images and 4K footage from my digital cameras, I normally backup to a large external hard drive and backup to my Synology NAS device. However, both of these copies are local and I would lose everything if the house burned down. To counter that, I setup an Amazon AWS account and backed up the really huge files to Amazon Glacier, which is really cheap. I have over 2 TB of data stored there and only pay like $10 a month. It’s worth it for me.

The other useful feature of a service like Amazon Glacier is that you can save several terabytes of data onto an external hard drive and ship it to Amazon. They will copy the data to their server locally, which prevents you from having to upload all that data over your home Internet connection.

Overall, it’s a good idea to store your photos and videos in the cloud along with having a local backup copy. If you still are confused about something or need any other help, feel free to post a comment and I’ll try to help. Enjoy!

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How to Check Your Google and Facebook Connected Apps

Are you a regular or robust user of Google tools? Have you used your Google account to sign into third party apps? Do you often take quizzes sent by friends on Facebook? Or, as with Google, have you used your Facebook account to log in to third party apps or websites?

Last, are you alarmed by the recent news about the social media companies in privacy breaches? Apart from rigorous password hygiene and mandatory two factor authentication or simply jettisoning these companies entirely, you can take another step to greater security by periodically policing the apps/modules/websites that you’ve allowed to access your Google and Facebook accounts.

Below, we show you how to review, check, calibrate, and remove connected apps from your Google account and Facebook accounts.

Google Connected Apps

Assume that from time to time, you use your Google account to sign into third party apps. Even if you can’t recall doing this, a lot of times you won’t even realize you are giving an app access to your Google account.

Here is Google’s guidance:

Remove Third Party Access

Now, let us explore how to monitor and remove these Google connected apps. Sign in with your Google Account using a web browser.

At the top right of the screen, you’ll see your profile photo.  Click on it, and then click on My Account.

This My Account page includes several modules such as security, privacy, and preferences; it is well worth reviewing, especially the Security Checkup wizard.

For purpose of this article, look down along the left under Sign-in & Security and select Apps with account access.

On the Apps with account access page, click on Manage Apps to get a full list of connected apps.

Notice how Google groups the connected apps, displaying first the 3rd party apps that have access to your account. Below these 3rd party apps, you’ll see a list of apps that are trusted by Google that have access.

Now check these lists for apps that are unfamiliar or that you no longer use. Click on one of the apps. Here you will see details, including when the app was authorized and what level of access it has. To remove it, click on Remove Access.

Google then displays a pop up explaining that you are removing the apps access to your account and to use this app or service again, you will need to grant access. Click OK, and Google removes the apps access and removes it from the list.

Continue to remove access for all apps you do not actively use.  And remember that if you need to use a third party or Google app again that you’ve removed, you simply have to authorize it again.

Facebook Connected Apps

Many website logins ask new users to sign in using Facebook. Also, if you have used the many popular shared game and quiz apps on Facebook, these apps also access your personal information. Facebook is prominent in the news now because of how this data is being misused. In response, Facebook may soon be simplifying the privacy settings. But for now, here is the current, not so easy, way to check and remove these Facebook connected apps.

Once logged into Facebook, pull down the toggle/arrow at the right top of the Facebook screen. This will expose your Facebook account and other features.  Near the bottom of this list, choose Settings.

On Facebook General Account Settings page, scroll down and select Apps and Websites in the left-hand menu.

The next page shows the Facebook applications that have been given account access, via the ways discussed above.  These range from fun apps like Words with Friends to automating integrations like If This Then That (IFTTT), and productivity apps like Hootsuite.

You may easily remove the app entirely by checking the box to the right and selecting Remove as shown above.

If you select one or more apps and click remove, you’ll see another dialog box. Here, notice the additional checkbox option referring to previous activity.  Consider whether to instruct Facebook to also delete prior posts made using the app.  So, for example, if you use IFTTT to automatically post to Facebook any entries posted on Blogger, you may still want the previous posts to remain.

Several other important notes here. Once removed, the app or website will no longer have access to your information, yet they may still retain previously shared information. If the app or website has your email address, you may certainly “unsubscribe” to stop future emails, but it will be necessary to contact the app or website developers directly to ask what if any information of yours they continue to maintain.

Facebook makes it easy for users to contact app developers, by selecting “Report/Contact” in the bottom right when you click on the app.  Thus, if you are concerned, you may want to first use this contact tool before removing the app.

Edit Facebook App Privacy Settings

Note too that Facebook allows users to specify the exposure that each connected app is allowed. So even after removing apps entirely, consider visiting and changing the privacy settings for each app that remains.  Here’s how.

For one of the apps, click on View and edit.

First, check App visibility, meaning who on Facebook will be able to see that you use this app.  For this visibility, you can pick from Public, Friends, Friends except acquaintances, Only Me or Custom.

Even more important, check the personal information provided to the app. For many apps, the public profile may be required, but other info such as your list of Facebook friends, birthday, hometown, and your email address can be deselected. Also, most of the time, there is no need for the app to access your pages or manage your business.

So trim the access for each app or remove them entirely. Upon removal, you will no longer see this app or website in your Facebook connected apps list.

Congrats on bringing some small level of privacy control to the continuing privacy battles we all face when using social media sites. Please let us know of any comments or questions. Enjoy!

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Sync Any Windows Folder with Google Drive, OneDrive and Dropbox

As of today, I have a cloud storage account on Amazon Drive, Google Drive, Microsoft OneDrive, iCloud Drive and Dropbox. I mostly use Dropbox overall, but I also use Amazon Drive on my Kindle Fire, OneDrive on Windows 10 and Google Drive for my photos and videos. One issue that I always had is that I want to sync my folders with these services, but I don’t like the fact that I have to copy or move all the files to their special container folders.

Instead, I wanted a way to be able to keep my folders in My Documents or wherever I had them and still have them sync with the cloud services. I learned that the best way to do this is to use symbolic links in Windows. A symbolic link is kind of like creating a shortcut to a folder, but it’s more permanent and acts like a separate folder, even though it’s not.

In this article, I’ll walk you through the steps to create symbolic links so that you can sync any folder on your computer with your cloud service without moving it. Note that Google has a separate program called Backup and Sync that allows you to choose any folder(s) on your computer to backup to Google Drive, which I will explain below.

Sync Folders to Dropbox and OneDrive

Before I get into the steps for OneDrive, I wanted to mention that they now have an option called AutoSave that lets you move the contents of the Desktop, My Documents and Pictures folders to OneDrive without having to do anything on your part. Basically, they point the local folders to the OneDrive folders to make it seamless.

However, it’s only for those three folders. If you have a folder saved somewhere else, you’ll need to either move it to the OneDrive folder or create a symbolic link. To get this done for Dropbox or OneDrive, I have created an example to walk you through the process. As you can see below, I have my OneDrive folder on the left and a folder called OneDrive Test inside C:\Test.

So I want to sync the OneDrive Test folder to my OneDrive account folder without moving it. To do this, you have to open an elevated command prompt and type in the following command:

mklink /J "C:\Users\Aseem\OneDrive\Personal" "C:\Test\OneDrive Test"

So let me explain what we are doing here. We are creating a symbolic link (symlink) using the mklink command. It takes two parameters: the first is the location of the symbolic link you want to create and the second is the source directory. As you can see, I don’t need to create the Personal folder in the OneDrive folder, the mklink command will do that for me. Also, you can use any name you want for the folder.

So I am telling Windows to create a symbolic link folder in the OneDrive folder called Personal that is actually just pointing to the C:\Test\OneDrive Test folder. After the link is created, you’ll see the Personal folder inside of OneDrive folder:

If you open that folder, the path will show as if it’s stored in OneDrive\Personal, when it actually is stored in the Test folder. So now you can add files to the folder from either location and both will have the same contents since it’s actually one folder, not two. That’s it!

OneDrive and Dropbox both support symbolic link folders and will sync everything up to the cloud like shown below:

Sync Folders to Google Drive

For Google Drive, start by downloading the Backup and Sync software mentioned above. Once you start the installation, you’ll get the following screen for step 2:

By default, it will select Desktop, Documents and Pictures, but you can click on Choose Folder and pick any folder you want. You can also click the Change link to backup only photos and videos or add file extensions that you do not want to sync.

In step 3, you choose which folders you want to sync down to your local PC. What I normally do is just uncheck Sync My Drive to this computer, since I’m only using it as a backup for my PC.

So there you have it! Now you can sync any folder on your computer with your cloud service. Either you’ll have to create a symbolic link or there may be a feature whereby you can pick the folders you want to sync. If you have any questions or problems, post a comment here and I’ll try to help. Enjoy!

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5 Ways to Automate Your Computer When It’s Idle

If you’re like most people, your home computer probably sits idle most of the day. Maybe you’re at work or watching the kids or grocery shopping or watching TV. Whatever the case, 80% of the time my computer at home is either off or sleeping.

This is good for saving power and money, but most computers don’t cost that much to keep on all the time anyway. Instead, I decided that I wanted to have my computer do something useful while I wasn’t working on it. Well, what can you accomplish on a PC without being around? Quite a few things actually. Here are five things you can try.

Help Mankind

There are quite a few projects out there that are trying to solve really complicated problems in the world, but need more resources. If you want to help with scientific research, there are several programs from universities around the world that can harness the power of your computer along with millions of other computers to create a super computer.

The BOINC Project

This is a project from the University of Berkeley where you can volunteer your computer resources to help cure diseases, study global warming, find objects in space, etc. They have over 172K volunteers with over 850K computers in the network. This gives them a whopping 27 petaflops of computing power. Just download the software and choose the projects you want to support.


The other big project for volunteer computing is Folding@home from Stanford University. Its main purpose is to research diseases by looking at protein folding. It’s all quite technical and way over my head, but you’re basically helping them design new drugs to fight diseases.

Automatically Backup Your PC

If you’re not backing up your computer, you should really take the time out to get a proper backup plan in place. Even if you don’t have any important data stored on your PC, you can still save yourself hours if your computer crashes and you need to perform a restore.

Reinstalling Windows along with all of your programs is a time-consuming process. Why not have your computer backup when it’s idle? You can create your own backup images manually, but you’re way more likely to create the backups if they are done automatically.

The best options here is to use a cloud backup service. The ones I have used personally are BackBlaze and Carbonite. These services obviously cost money, but they are super easy to use and give you the freedom to not worry about manually backing up your computer.

Update Your PC

If you hate your computer restarting in the middle of a work day, then you can easily adjust your settings so that Windows only updated your PC when you’re not using it.

In Windows 10, you simply click on Start, then Settings and then Update & Security. Click on Change active hours and set the time that you work on your PC. Windows will only do updates outside of this time range.

In Windows 7, open Control Panel and click on Windows Update. In the left-hand pane, click on Change settings.

You can choose to install new updates every day or you can pick one day of the week. You can also choose the specific time when you’re most likely not using the computer.

Setup an FTP or Game Server

If you’re someone who likes to share a lot of content with others, then you might consider setting up your computer as a file sharing or game server. I wrote an article about some third-party software you can use to create a home file server.

You can also install IIS in Windows Pro and higher versions to create your own FTP server or web server. Finally, if you enjoy gaming with friends, you can setup your own game server to play games like Minecraft, Counter-Strike, Quake, etc.

These are a bit more complicated to setup, but your friends will definitely think you are cool if you have one of these running from home.

Become a Tor Relay

If you have a powerful machine, an unlimited Internet connection and one hell of a router, you might consider becoming a Tor relay. Tor, if you didn’t know, is a project that aims to help users browse the Internet without being tracked. It’s not full-proof, but works well for a lot of people.

However, the network is made up of volunteers who act as relays. When you visit a website, your request goes through several relays before reaching the final destination. This helps mask your true identity.

Becoming a Tor relay has some technical requirements and legal implications, depending on where you live, your ISP, etc. However, if you can, it’s a great way to make the web more private.

Other Extra Uses

I only listed five ways to use the extra processing power of your PC, but there are so many more that I figured I would add a couple of more.

  1. Mine Bitcoin – You probably won’t be making much money if you use a single computer with one graphics card, but if you have a powerful multi-GPU rig, you could earn a couple of dollars a day (possibly). Or you could join a mining pool. One free and clean Bitcoin mining program is GNUMiner.
  2. Record Movies and TV Shows – If you have an OTA antenna and some extra hard drive space, you can easily record TV shows and movies for free. Download a program like Plex onto your computer, connect a digital tuner and you’re good to go.
  3. Automate Usenet Downloads – Download a program like SABnzbd to automatically download files from Usenet.

There are a lot of other things you can do with an idle PC, but these were just a few that came to my mind. If you have another cool way to utilize an idle PC, let us know in the comments. Enjoy!

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