Using No-cost Batch Converters? You Get What You Pay for – A Guide to a Better Solution

Frequently we receive inquiries from prospective customers looking for a document or image conversion application, but they specify that they’re looking for a no-cost solution. When looking to convert file formats many ‘free file format conversion downloads’ are available on the Web – and while they might meet your needs – diligence should be exercised to be sure. As you search for a document or image batch converter the old caveats ‘let the buyer beware’ and ‘you get what you pay for’ should be heavily considered.

There are many things to take into consideration when researching options for document and image file conversion. If you just need to convert a few non-mission-critical files on an infrequent basis, then a free converter may work fine. But for most documents required for ongoing business processes, a professional-grade batch converter is the right answer to handle current and future data requirements and should address the following:

  • Efficient & Effective Conversion – quick and accurate performance
  • Ease-of-use – intuitive interface and controls
  • Comprehensive Format Support – for all your documents and images
  • Full-featured Functionality – to streamline conversion and viewing
  • Data Security – online conversion vs. installed applications
  • Customer Support and Maintenance – get help when you need it

Efficient & Effective Conversion – quick and accurate performance

Using no-cost tools to convert file formats usually means putting severe restrictions on both conversion speed and performance. Shareware applications generally aren’t built to perform the same way as server-based enterprise applications. For example, the vast majority of free Word to PDF converters available for download online handle images and tables poorly – lumping these elements together into a single image for each page. Plus, there are strict limits to the number of document or image files that may be converted either by total number of conversions, or by time, without purchasing. And formats offered are limited as well.

Full-featured server-based rapid batch converters on the other hand, quickly and accurately process large-volume document and image conversion of diverse files – into universally readable file formats – and deliver rapid results because they do not invoke a printer driver. Advanced font mapping ensures faithfulness to the original file, as opposed to several reviews of free conversion software I read that stated, “Your converted document will generally look like the original.” In many industries, documents go through intensive legal review, so a conversion that ‘generally looks like the original’ isn’t going to cut it. In several reviews of free conversion tools, the color of text and images wasn’t true to the original after conversion as well.

User beware - I even found one tool labeled a ‘Free Image Converter’ that didn’t change the format of images at all, just enabled them to be easily resized, so should be called ‘Free Image Resizer.’

Ease-of-use – intuitive interface and controls

Most online conversion downloads provide very rudimentary controls such as drag-and-drop files and a brief right-click menu, and therefore don’t offer much in the way of advanced functionality and features beyond basic conversion – and usually for a very limited format set (more about that shortly). And while some are easy to use, conversion results are frequently unpredictable – especially where images and tables are present.

A professional-grade batch converter using a full-featured interface delivers a wide variety of functionality via either command line or interactive job scheduling controls streamlining workflow through automated document conversion and viewing processes. A rapid document conversion application like Snowbound’s SnowBatch solution automatically monitors a file directory for new documents, recognizes diverse document and image file formats, converts them into universally readable file formats such as TIFF or PDF, and stores them into a user specified archive.

Comprehensive Format Support – for all your documents and images

Many of the no-cost downloads to convert file formats are specific to a small subset of formats supported or have other limitations such as maximum file sizes, concurrent number of conversions and online file storage limitations, the latter of which determines server space allocated to store converted files – and therefore how frequently you’ll have to download converted files to keep processing.

A comprehensive conversion solution like SnowBatch image and file batch converter supports over 100 document and image formats, and is constantly maintained to ensure that the application remains technically current with the latest file format revisions and the addition of any formats that become widely used. And by using an enterprise-grade application, users don’t experience the performance, memory or file size limitations of basic offerings found on the Web.

Full-featured Functionality – to streamline conversion and viewing

A full-featured rapid batch conversion application gives organizations in a wide variety of industries the ability to enhance and optimize document workflow, to better process and distribute mission-critical information across the enterprise. For example:

  • Healthcare Organizations use batch converters to view and process a wide variety of facility and patient information including medical and financial records, insurance forms, physician’s orders and prescriptions and X-rays.
  • Banking and Financial Services Institutions rely on batch file conversion for fast and accurate document conversions that speed up the processing of loan applications, mortgage papers, checks and other financial documents because they end up in an easily accessible format.
  • The Insurance Industry has achieved expedited claims processing and enhanced customer service through the ability to handle any kind of claim form or customer correspondence. Insurers are also better equipped to meet compliance demands by maintaining document integrity throughout the conversion process.
  • Government Agencies depend upon quick and accurate conversion for both documents created electronically and those scanned into a document management system. Documents with diverse formats and origins are securely converted, archived and viewed – both for internal use and for viewing by the public on the Web.

Built-in functionality coupled with an easy-to-use interface delivers the features needed to streamline document and image viewing and conversion processes:

  • Use via command line or converter dashboard interface controls
  • Create searchable PDF output from any text based input
  • Convert repository subdirectories, and delete/move files after they have been converted
  • Split multi-page files into multiple single page files
  • Highlight revisions during document review cycles with redaction & watermarking capabilities
  • Maintain document integrity/faithfulness to the original with Advanced Font Mapping
  • Configure/maintain document naming conventions easily
  • Adjust document or image file size (DPI) during conversion

Data Security – online conversion vs. installed applications

There two categories of conversion options; installed on computer hardware like the server-based batch converters and no-cost computer downloads discussed here, and online conversion services where you upload files for conversion. Two issues that need to be considered with online file format conversion are reliability and data security.

Free online conversion services promise data transfer via secure connection, that your information will not be looked at by humans, and that your email will not be used or shared with a third party. If you decide to use one of these services, do your homework and verify that you’re dealing with a reputable provider. It is your call whether you are comfortable sharing your private or business information in this manner.

Regarding reliability of online conversion services, most services will process and send you converted documents back in a matter of minutes, but it can be hours or days. Read the fine print in the agreement before you send your data.

The Bottom Line – You Get What You Pay For…

To ensure the highest levels of satisfaction, reliability, data integrity and security it makes good business sense for most organizations looking to convert, view and distribute business information productively across the enterprise to acquire a professional-grade batch converter solution. No-cost tools have their place for individual low-volume use, but in the business world, the inherent limitations and risks just aren’t acceptable.