I finally dug out the scanner and went through my Drawer-O-Papers. Err, some of those really need to be in the fire safe, which is... er... empty. We bought it and it's sitting in the hall closet. Must do something about that.
Anyway, I set the scanner software to 300 DPI grayscale and scanned tax assessments, bills, and paid receipts, the titles to all the vehicles, procedure notes from hospital visits, my birth certificate, vaccination booklet (last stamped in 1970...) , copyright registrations for the books I sold, eyeglass prescriptions, my wife's living will (I need to do mine), C&R form, NFA forms, and voter registration. Came to 191Mb. The marriage license, deed to the house, and deed registration are all on legal-size paper. I'm going to take them down to the local copy shop and see if they can scan them directly to TIFF or JPEG.
Of all the stuff I thought of as "important papers", only about 10% needed to be scanned. About 25% went into the trash can, and the rest was stuff that didn't need to be backed up - manuals for appliances, correspondence, credit card statements, etc.
I *should* have found the paperwork on a few firearms I bought new, and I have the troubling feedling I'm missing some stuff. It'll come to me eventually, I guess.
My wife has a huge box of papers I need to go through, lots of it is medical stuff, so it'll probably go to over 1Gb by the time I'm done. It'll still rattle around on a cheap USB key or DVD-R.
I tried to give each image a descriptive name, like "tax - assessment 2010 real estate" or "tax - personal property 2009 paid receipt."
This stuff really needs to be protected somehow. I'm still thinking about that. Current thought is to encrypt each file separately with PGP. That way I can keep the descriptive names and the files can be read on anything that can see an ntfs or FAT-32 formatted key. Throw a copy of par2 and QuickPAR on there and generate PAR files to repair the files if some random bits fail.
I also have a pair of 3x5 spiral notebooks that lay by my keyboard. One has userIDs and passwords for forums, mail and usenet providers, etc. The other has MAC addresses and passwords for the routers and cable modem, logins for eBay, PayPal, one of my bank accounts, etc. That's all stuff I consider too valuable to be stored in a file on the computer, so it stays on paper. I started the notebooks... oh, 25 years ago, back when I was keeping track of logins to various BBSs. I guess there's no reason I can't key it all in to a file and encrypt it.
Put a DVD and a thumbdrive into my offsite backup site, one in my go bag, another in my wife's, and that ought to do it.