7 Things to Know Before Buying a Document Scanner

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So you’ve decided that you want to buy a document scanner and start scanning the paper files in your office to reap the many benefits of going paperless. But there are so many document scanners to choose from that it’s hard to know where to start.

Now, you could dive right in and use our document scanner search filters to start narrowing down your choices. But first we’d recommend reviewing these seven things to help you determine exactly what kind of document scanner is going to be the right fit.

1. Determine Your Needs Before You Start Shopping

As with most purchases, it’s critical that you consider your needs and requirements before buying a document scanner.

Here are some factors that you should consider:

  • How many pages per day do you need to scan?
  • Are there peak periods for your scanning? You’ll need a scanner that can handle these peak periods.
  • How many hours per day do you have available to scan records? Are you hiring someone to scan? Will scanning be a new task assigned to current staff? How will staff be trained on these scanners?
  • Do you need individual scanners for every person, or can a department share one localized scanner?
  • Will you be scanning oversized pages?
  • Will you be scanning many color pages?
  • Do you have many two-sided (duplex) pages?
  • Do you need to scan records at a high resolution?
  • Where do the scanned documents need to go? These could be a document management system, server folder, cloud storage, etc.
  • Do you have pages/items that need to be scanned on a flatbed because they will not go through a paper transport?
  • Do you have a PC, MAC, or Linux?
  • Do you need a scanner attached to a network? If so, do you have IT personnel to support it?

Knowing exactly what you need will make the rest of the buying process easy.

2. Don’t Buy a Scanner That Doesn’t Actually Meet Your Requirements

Here’s one of the most important things to know about purchasing a desktop scanner: the daily duty cycles published by the scanner manufacturers are way too high. You might be able to physically scan 4,000 pages per day on a desktop scanner, but you’ll need to be prepared to be at the office all night scanning.

Make sure that you buy a unit that can scan all of your necessary documents in 3-4 hours per day or less. You might feel that you’re buying more than you need, but over time, the labor cost of scanning is much higher than the purchase price of the scanner. A fast, more durable scanner completes your work is less time, which frees up you or your employees to perform other, better work.

3. Feed and Speeds Can Be Deceiving

This is an extension of point number two, but we really want you to understand how scanners are marketed. Yes, a scanner brochure, or even a product page on our website, may say that the scanner can scan 5,000 pages per day. And that’s true, but only if you have 12+ hours to scan every day.

Most of these duty cycles are based on an artificially perfect environment with perfect paper (no fading, no tears, no dog-eared pages, etc.). So if you run thousands of pages (which probably are not in perfect condition) through a desktop scanner all day, every day, the scanner will eventually not be as reliable. Your time is valuable, so pick a scanner that will cut down on scanning time.

4. Evaluate the Software in Addition to the Hardware

Every document scanner comes with software that runs the scanner. However, all scanning software is not created equal. Some comes packed with features you may never intend to use, and some may not have enough features to do everything you need.

Make sure you evaluate the scanning software so that it meets your needs and that it’s easy to use. Software to the scanner is like a transmission to a car; the software governs how you change settings and runs the scanner. You don’t want to be unhappy with your scanner because the software frustrates you!

5. Don’t Depend on a Copier/Multi-Function Printer

scanner services consumables maintenanceWe hear this a lot: “I don’t need a scanner because I just use our copier.” And if the only thing you’ll be scanning is a page or two a week and the image quality doesn’t matter, then you can rely on your copier.

But if you need to scan a decent amount of paper every week, having a desktop scanner will save you time. Instead of getting up multiple times per day to run a document through the copier, you can stay at your desk and have your scanned file in seconds.

Additionally, a scanner will give you a much better image. A scanner scans a document using thresholds, algorithms, and filters. This provides high-quality images that accurately represent the original. Copiers simply duplicate pages. They create blacked-out areas where there is shading and do not provide a preview of each image for review.

If you are scanning private information or sensitive documents, you should also consider investing in a scanner. Images scanned on a workstation document scanner have superior security as they are not stored on the hard drive of the copier.

6. Don’t Forget the Service Contract and/or Warranty

Many desktop scanners come with 3- to 5-year warranties. Larger production scanners require you to purchase a service contract once the initial (generally 3 months) warranty runs out.

So, when doing your research, don’t forget to account for the cost of a service contract. You’ll appreciate having it as many service agreements include a 4-hour response time which minimizes your downtime.

Additionally, know who will service your scanner and the process for having it serviced. Research the following:

  • Do you have to send in the scanner for repair or replacement?
  • Will a field technician come to your office to repair the unit?
  • Is the technician from the scanner company or a third party?
  • What is the availability and lead time on parts?
  • For optimal uptime, should you acquire an extra scanner in the event one needs repair?

Finally, when ordering your scanner, make sure that you ask about consumables and cleaning kits so that you can keep your scanner working in top condition.

7. Consider Outsourcing Part of Your Work

Are you looking at buying a document scanner because you have a backlog of work to be scanned? Then you should consider outsourcing part or all of it to document scanning company (also called a scanning conversion bureau).

Using a scanning company means that you don’t have to invest in a production scanner that may be underutilized when your backlog is gone. It also eliminates the burden of scanning and enables you to focus on key aspects of your job.

Once the backlog is gone, you can simply purchase smaller desktop scanners to scan any ongoing work.

Related resource: Should You Outsource Document Scanning or Do It In-House?

Wrapping it up…

Once you go through these different research steps, you should be well on your way to determining the best document scanner for your needs.

But if this is all still a little murky, don’t hesitate to give us a call and ask our opinion! We’re happy to recommend several scanners that will meet your needs and there’s absolutely no cost to you to do this. We use production scanners every day as part of our scanning services, along with multiple different types of desktop scanners for our own paperwork, so we know a thing or two about scanning.

Additionally, we can provide:

  • Demonstrations and recommendations on the different software for the scanner(s) you may be interested in
  • Installation assistance after you receive your scanner
  • Training on the use of the scanner optimized on how you will be using it
  • Options for warranties, extended warranties, and service contracts
  • Quotes to do backlog scanning by our conversion bureau

We know that some of these scanners are serious investments, so we want to make sure that you’re getting exactly what you need, and that the scanner will run smoothly for a very long time.

Give our scanner selector tool a try and then us a call at (630) 321-0601 or contact us. We’re here to help!