Good paper come back to use

I’ve just read another good post of Jeff Atwood, that speak about PaperBack. I must admit that in 2009 it seems an oddity to claim for backup on paper, but it is an interesting and viable option to backup data. I must admit that I really love books, I like to have a book in my hand and I really love paper. Doing a backup on paper is really cool, because you can really touch your backup, with hands, and you can visually states that it is in good condition using only your eyes.

So I downloaded the program and did a try, I take a 140 pages pdf and print it in only 4 A4 pages. I used a samsung laser printer, really cheap one, the result were 4 pages filled with little squares very similar to datamatrix. Then I immediately scan again with the program, just to verify that the result is good. Here it is the original page.


When I scanned them to restore the original file, I got a good summary on how good my backup is.


Then I proceed scanning other three pages. And the result was that the original files was restored with no problem. My scanner was an epson printer+scanner combo, so again I’m impressed that the program really works with cheap hardware.

Ok now if you still think that this is only a joke I really realized that it can have a really good use. As an indipendent consultant I have documentation about my activity that I need to keep for several years for inspection from the tax office, I regularly backup these documents into two different external usb hard disk. These are really important documents to me so I decided to zip them all in a file (around 740kb because they are mainly text document), and print them with PaperBack to 6 pages.

Then I take those 6 printed pages and compared them with the standard printed ones (I always took a copy of each document printed), about hundreds of pages, and I was amazed :D I have the same data in only 6 pages.

Pay attention when you want to restore the document, since you should have a 600 DPI scanner, I tried to scan at 300 DPI and the result is that 50% of the blocks are not readable. Scanning in higher resolution, like 1200 dpi, does not gives you any advantage, since at 600 DPI 100% of the bloks are perfectly readable.