As a self-admitting pack rat, I tend to keep all the manuals and instructions for my purchases tidily stacked in a box labeled so. Keeping them all in one place is handy, except for when that one place is at the office and I'm at home. So when my bathroom scale started to go on the fritz ("Honey, I'm 345 pounds this morning!") I was stuck without my manual on hand...
Hitting the web I was able to quickly find a copy of the user manual, and it made me wonder why it was even necessary to keep my paper copies (as well as what a colossal waste of paper). Searching online I came across several resources for how to access product manuals infinitely while recycling the paper version.
Check the Manufacturer's Website
My first stop was the manufacturer Homedics' website, and it was a quick and easy step through their site navigation to find the manual. I'd recommend always checking with the manufacturer first to get the latest versions available.
Check Manual Repository Websites
Unplggd offers instructions on how to Find the Instruction Manual to Anything, for Free! as well as how to Clean Out the File Cabinet with Manuals Online. Both sites didn't carry the manual for my specific scale, the Homedics SC-405. Curious as to what they did carry, I found quite a few manuals for other products I owned, so it was more likely a case of my particular scale not being widely available on sites such as these.
Save Locally, Share Globally
Whenever you buy a new product, you should immediately hit the web to find the user manual, installation software, drivers, etc. and save it to a folder in my Dropbox. Keep folders for each product and saving all your files locally lets you toss the paper versions into the recycling bin to save space and the environment and you don't need to keep anything physically on hand. You can access these supporting documents and files for my products anytime and at any location.
Another idea is to save all your manuals in PDF file format and keep them stored according to category on cheap and readily available USB flash drives. Save your files, store them on a keychain and you'll have them all readily available when you need them.
Register Your Product
Don't forget to register your product to be eligible for its warranty. Recall a nice tip to avoid the inevitable spam is to use an alternative e-mail address. Also use software like the Warranty Elephant to help remember your warranty expiration dates for you.
(Images: Flickr member //www.flickr.com/photos/honan/2983434802/" target="_blank">Matt Honan licensed for use under Creative Commons)