Fujitsu ScanSnap S1500 – Paperless Workflow (Part 3) – Automating the PDF Encryption Process by using “A-PDF Password Security”
In Part 2 of this series, I discussed the use of a freeware PDFTK utility to encrypt PDF files automatically. This is a convenient (and free) method but it is not fully automated as it requires you to manually load the PDF files into its input queue.
There are other ways to do this automatically. You can:
1. Use a programming language (I like Free Pascal) to write a short program that recursively encrypt PDF files located in a specific folder and then move them into the INBOX folder when done; To automate this process, you can use a folder monitoring program such as Belvedere to automatically execute this program everytime it detected there are new PDF files in the source folder.
2. Use a scripting language (I like AutoIT) to write a script that does exactly the above and then use this in conjunction with Belvedere as described above.
3. Use a ready-made software that does the above.
I will choose Option 1 or 2 if I have time (and energy) to do so. But then I discovered that there is a software that does exactly what I need, so the incentive to code all by myself is suddenly not so attractive. The software I referred to is called “A-PDF Password Security“. This is available as a trial version so you can download and see if this works well for you in your paperless workflow. I have determined that it works well enough in my setup (my wife especially loves the convenience this brings) and I will give a quick rundown how I am using it.
The installation is pretty straightforward so let’s skip that. When the software is first startup, make sure the “HOT” directory option is selected, as follows:
This option will make the software continuously monitor a particular folder for any changes (such as new incoming files, etc) and when these are detected, the software will encrypt them and dump them into another folder.
Now click the “NEXT” button. You will see the following screen.
Plenty of options but don’t worry. The setup is really easy so let’s step through one by one.
The first thing we need to setup is the monitored directory. ScanSnap S1500 will dump all the newly scanned files into a default directory and I have configured this directory to be “D:\PERSONAL_FILE_STORAGE”. So my HOT directory is exactly this folder.
To complete the rest of the settings, we need to know how we want the software to behave. In a nutshell, we want the software to 1) Monitor a HOT folder for new PDF files and 2) Encrypt these PDF files and move them to the INBOX folder (which is a Sub-folder of the HOT directory) and destroy the original version in the process.
Unfortunately, A-PDF Password Security has 2 issues that prevent us from doing this.
First, the “OUTPUT” directory cannot be associated with the “HOT” directory. So if the hot directory is D:\#PERSONAL_FILE_STORAGE, the output directory cannot be a sub-folder associated with that so D:\#PERSONAL_FILE_STORAGE\#INBOX will not work. This is not good as this is exactly how I wanted.
Second issues A-PDF Password Security has is that it is unable to delete the original files after it has encrypted them.
Fortunately there are ways around these. To do so, we need 2 additional software.
1. A freeware from Microsoft called Junction. If you have used Linux/Unix for any length of time, you will quickly discovered that Linux has this incredible feature to create a symbolic link which windows can’t do out of the box. Junction is written by Microsoft but it is not an official part of the distribution. We need junction to create a symbolic link such that D:\#INBOX is mapped to d:\#PERSONAL_FILE_STORAGE\#INBOX.
Download junction from the above site, unzip and copy the executable file (there is just one file) to c:\windows folder. Now start a cmd shell and type the following at the prompt.
junction D:\#INBOX D:\#PERSONAL_FILE_STORAGE\#INBOX
Obviously you should use the folder name on your system. The above is an example from my box.
Junction will complete the process in a tick. Now close the console box and that’s it.
This will resolve A-PDF Password Security issue no. 1 but we still have issue no. 2 to solve.
2. You will also need another freeware that actively monitors a folder. I like Belvedere and so I am going to recommend this. What we need to do is to configure a folder such that any files that get deposited into this folder will be deleted automatically.
First create this folder. I called mine D:\#TO_BE_DELETED. Now install Belvedere and start it up to configure.
Click the “+” button underneath the folder section to add this folder to the software. Belvedere will now monitor this folder. Then click the “+” button to add a rule. A dialog box will show up. Configure this as shown here.
Essentially, we want all PDF files in the D:\#TO_BE_DELETED folder which are created in the past 4 weeks to be automatically sent to the recycle bin.
To see if this works, manually copy a temporary PDF file and put this in D:\#TO_BE_DELETED folder. Now press the “Test” button. If the setup is working, Belvedere will list all files that match the rules you have created.
Verify that Belvedere is working properly and we can then close Belvedere. It will continue to run in a system tray which is fine. The completed setup will now look like this.
Okay. Now we can return to configure A-PDF Password Security.
We have previously configured the “Monitored Directory” input field. We need to configure the “Output Directory” as D:\#INBOX (the symbolic link folder we created using Microsoft Junction) and the “Backup Directory” as D:\#TO_BE_DELETED.
The software will require a folder where it puts the log files so I opt to put this in D:\#TEMP folder. You can setup Belvedere to automatically deleted the log files as well but I will skip this step for now.
Lastly, setup the encryption to use 128-bit and give the SAME password as you assigned ScanSnap Manager. See Part 2 of this guide if you have no idea what I am referring to.
The configuration is now complete. Not that hard isn’t it.
So the next time you are scanning new document using the ScanSnap scanner (and want the PDF files generated to be 128-bit password protected), all you have to do is to press the “Start” button at the bottom of the dialog box.
Once A-PDF Password Security is started this way, it will run behind the scene and all NEW pdf files that are dumped into the ScanSnap folder (i.e. D:\#PERSONAL_FILE_STORAGE in my example) will be automatically encrypted, copy into the inbox folder (i.e. D:\#PERSONAL_FILE_STORAGE\#INBOX), the original versions move into the backup folder (i.e. D:\#TO_BE_DELETED) and then these get picked up by Belvedere which then send them to the recycle bin.
Note that I emphasize on the word NEW above. Say you have existing PDF files in your ScanSnap folder that you have not completed the sorting, combining, and what not…..if you press the “start” button in A-PDF Password Security, the software will leave those existing files alone and only process new incoming files from that instant onwards. This is a good thing for me and works well in our paperless workflow.
The only thing we have to remember is to press the “Stop” button to stop A-PDF Password Security from encrypting new files if we do not want them to be password protected (say we are digitizing a restaurant menu for example).
So in summary, we are very happy with A-PDF Password Security and I hope this article will be useful to paperless enthusiast. Happy scansnapping 🙂