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Independent analyst and systems architect specializing in business process management and Enterprise 2.0. Previously founded two successful product and service companies focusing on content management, BPM and e-commerce. Featured conference speaker on BPM and its impact on business, and writes the Column 2 blog on BPM and Enterprise 2.0. All posts are © Sandy Kemsley.

9 responses to “Going Paperless On A Small Scale”

  1. Donald Perso

    Thanks for the great article! I have been wanting to go paperless for quite some time but didn’t know where to start in terms of accounts until I decided to save everything on my computer using Office. I don’t know why you use QuickBooks though, I switched to Xero as it’s a lot easier to use and a lot cleaner for us older folk. I might be a bit of a newbie when it comes to backing up files, but do you mind explaining how you back up files to the cloud?

  2. Sandy Kemsley

    Hi Donald, thanks for your comment. I was unaware of Xero, I might check it out although I have found a lot of the online financial packages to be lacking compared to Quicken.

    Backing up to the cloud is easy. Click on and sign up for a free account with Dropbox (this is my affiliate link; using it will give both of us an extra 500MB of free storage space). This gives you 2GB for free (or 2.5GB if you use the link above). Then, click on your name in the top right of the Dropbox screen to drop down the menu, and select “Install” to download and install an app that runs on your desktop. During installation, it will create a folder called “My Dropbox” — I think that this is usually in your My Documents folder on Windows, although you have the option to put it anywhere during installation. Once it is installed and running, any files that you put into that folder are automatically synchronized to Dropbox, hence in the cloud. You can install Dropbox on multiple computers and it will keep all of the files in the My Dropbox folder in sync between them: this is how I manage files between my desktop and netbook computers. There are iOS and Android apps for accessing your files on the go. As long as the Dropbox app is running on your computer, everything stays backed up without you having to do anything.

    There are other free file synchronization tools — Google Drive, Box and SugarSync, just to name a few — but they all work pretty much the same way. SpiderOak uses encryption if you want the same functionality with greater security – I’ve been thinking about trying them out. I’m not concerned about someone hacking into my account (although that possible, but Dropbox allows me to use two-factor authentication so that’s unlikely) but more for protection against the government poking their nose into information. Not that I have anything to hide. 🙂

    JungleDisk, which I mention above, also provides real-time file synchronization, but I use it only for daily backup: it’s another application that runs on my desktop and backs up everything that I want once per day, or on demand. It provides encryption and uses my Amazon S3 account for storage, so ends up costing me only about $3/month.

    Lots of options. Unless you have highly confidential files, I would suggest starting with Dropbox or one of its competitors, since they are easiest to set up and are free to get started. With Dropbox, if you refer your friends, you can get free storage so you can probably build up a few extra GB without moving to a paid account if that’s all you need. If you have confidential files, try out SpiderOak.

  3. Henrique

    You should try You upload your bills to store, route for approval and pay online. You can also do all of your invoicing and store contracts, estimates, etc. Not to mention it syncs with all popular accounting systems like QuickBooks, Xero, Intacct, Netsuite, etc. Take a look…

  4. Philippe

    Everybody praises Dropbox to the skies but you have to keep in mind that it is one of the most expensive cloud services.Of course, you get some free space, but you will pay the full price to upgrade to the pro version. Instead, checkout Google Drive, Skydrive from Microsoft or Go Daddy. To keep my files safe, I use BoxCryptor and keep all my sensitive datas to my Boxcryptor folder

  5. Philippe

    As we do more and more things, including business tasks with our smartphone, I would consider the following before choosing a cloud service: is this service listed among the services that are displayed on your phone when you click on Share? it is so convenient to send to the cloud in one second a credit card receipt that you have shot with your phone or an invoice or picture that you have received by email!

  6. Carla

    Henrique, last I checked wouldn’t generate invoices with a Canadian address and the payment feature didn’t work in Canada either.

  7. Bill

    Great article – thanks for all the ideas. I think you will love Xero. It includes a smart phone app which, among other things, allows you to photograph a receipt, code it and add it to an expense claim. Then reimburse yourself at month-end and you’re done. Everything is stored in Xero. If you use Accounts Payable, you can also attach PDF files to transactions there.