Picking the perfect scanner : features to look for in a scanner

Picking the perfect scanner

Picking the perfect scanner:

reveals the most important features to look for in a scanner, and puts four professional models to the test.

This may be the digital age, but many offices are still bursting at the seams with paper records.

From invoices and statements to sales reports, contracts and who knows what else, there’s no end to the documents you need to hang onto.

But office space isn’t free and, if half your floor is filled up with filing cabinets, that’s costing you hard cash. 

Digitising is the way forward. Once documents have been scanned in, the originals can go into archival storage;

there are plenty of companies who will provide secure facilities at very reasonable prices.

This lets you reclaim all that wasted floor space, and also means that your essential documents, in digital form, can be more easily accessed and searched.

All you need to get started is a scanner, and there’s a huge range to choose from, at prices to suit even the smallest of businesses.


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Both sides now 

Double-sided documents are commonplace these days.

Most business printers support duplex printing, and enabling it by default helps reduce costs, storage requirements and environmental impact.

So we’d strongly recommend you invest in a duplex scanner with imaging sensors on both sides of the paper path (sometimes called a “single-pass” model), allowing it to scan both sides at once.

A single sided model may be cheaper, but you’ll end up wasting a lot of time and energy flipping pages over as you scan them.

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Be aware that some double-sided scanners only have a single sensor.

These work by automatically turning the page over and scanning each side in turn.

The technology works, but it’s a lot slower than a single-pass design.

If you have a big paperwork Long distance information backlog to clear, it’s also a good idea to look for a scanner with an automatic document feeder (ADF),

so it can scan through a big stack of documents without human intervention.

Look for a scanner with a duty cycle and ADF capacity to match your expected needs: certain professional models are rated for up to 10,000 pages per day, and many ADFs have input capacities of 50 pages and upwards.

Also think about what sort of document you want to feed through your scanner scan.

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Modern scanners feature sophisticated and effective jam-detection sensors that will normally stop the rollers before any damage occurs, meaning you don’t need to worry much about that.

But if you need to scan in documents that are too precious or bulky to entrust to an ADF, it’s helpful if your scanner also has a traditional flatbed option.

USB or network?

The cheapest scanners use a USB connection,

but this is often a false economy as it means you will end up dedicating an entire PC to the scanning and document management functions.

After all, you can’t expect an employee to use it for their own work while others are queueing up to scan documents.

Network scanners are more costly, but they don’t require a dedicated host PC.

You can locate the scanner itself anywhere in the office, and allow users to access it from their own desktop simply by installing the software and drivers.

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One modern convenience that’s worth looking out for is “tap and scan”.

Scanners that support this feature an NFC chip that you can tap a smartphone against to create an instant connection, and scan documents directly to your mobile.

If that’s of interest, check platform support: some vendors only offer scan apps for Android, while others support iOS as well. 

Long distance information

When using a network scanner, you need to specify whereabouts on the network you want your scanned file to be saved.

It’s important to standardize on this, as your digital documents will be impossible to manage if they’re scattered across multiple systems.

All good scanners will support both local and network locations, and some nowadays also let you scan directly to a cloud destination.

This is generally a sensible idea: it provides secure storage, lets you restrict access to specific users and allows scanned documents to be searched and referred to from anywhere.

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Be warned, though, not all vendors are alike in this area.

Brother’s network scanners are real standard setters when it comes to cloud services, while some rivals have no sort of cloud support at all.

You can work around that by scanning straight to a Dropbox, OneDrive or Google Drive location, for automatic uplift to the cloud,

but those services aren’t really designed for this sort of role, and lack suitable management tools.

It’s much better if the scanner software itself handles interactions with your cloud storage service.

We need a resolution Nobody wants blurry scans, but don’t get carried away with extravagant resolutions.

Today’s business scanners can all produce greyscale digital copies at 200dpi that are perfectly clean and readable.

If you want to create searchable PDF (sPDF) files, you might choose to step up to 300dpi, to help ensure that the OCR process interprets everything correctly.

Anything higher than that, however, is unlikely to offer any real benefit – it’ll just make your scans slower and your output files unnecessarily large.

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Note that sPDF documents will also be slightly larger than standard ones, but the convenience of being able to effortlessly search and index your documents is normally worth it.

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Scanning and GDPR 

Scanning isn’t just about streamlining your everyday business.

With the GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) now in force, all SMBs need to ensure that personal data is properly stored and secured.

That’s a lot easier to do with a digital file than a piece of paper.

Not only can you store the files in a restricted network location, you can also encrypt and password protect individual files.

Additionally, GDPR gives individuals the right to access their own data, and the right to be forgotten.

Responding to a Subject Access Request (SAR) is a lot easier if your documents are all digital:

  1. you can find all documents relating to a particular client in a matter of seconds, rather than having to rummage through physical folders and filing cabinets.

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