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Revised 7-6-16

What is it? What does it do? Do I need to do it? What equipment do I need? How do I do it?

What is it?

Scanning means making a digital recording of a piece of paper or photograph.

Example 1: A fax machine scans a document into digital format and sends the digital data to another fax machine to be decoded back into a document. For the technically detailed person, a fax machine must also convert the digital signal into an analog signal to send over a phone line and then the receive fax must convert the analog back to digital.

Example 2: A copy machine scans a document for the purpose of making a copy. We just never thought of these processes as scanning.

The difference with what we now refer to as scanning is the output. The next section will discuss what the output is all about.

What does it do?

A scanner provides output in the form of a computer file. Here is a list of possible uses:

1. Making copies of documents for records, inventory, archiving. These copies can be stored on CDs, DVs, jump drives or other external devices for a very condensed permanent record in place of paper archives.

2. If you do not have a fax machine, you can scan a document and send a fax from your computer.

3. Scanning photographs is the most common use for scanners today. You can take all of your old album pictures, slides and negatives and scan them into the computer. Once in the computer, you can print copies, make a slide show, store hundreds of photos on one CD, DVD or jump drive. You can modify old photos to remove scratches and recolorize.

You can make a CD containing a slide show of selected photos and send copies to other family members.

4. Enlarging publications for vision impaired. You can do this with a copy machine also, but scanning into the computer gives you more options of layout.

Do I need to do it?

That depends on your individual needs. When was the last time you got out the slide projector and looked at your old photos? How often do you look at your photo albums?

Do you ever need to fax a document? Would you like to store copies of all your important documents in a safe place?

If any of these scenarios fit you, then scanning might be the answer.

What equipment do I need?

There are a number of considerations in choosing a scanner.

Flatbeds are a little larger footprint, but allow scanning pages of a book, odd shaped papers or varying thickness from paper thin to very thick.
Page feed (Like a fax machine) These will only scan a single piece of paper of limited thickness and size. They do allow scanning longer documents like a legal size.
All in one. These devices may include a scanner, printer, copier and fax. They save space instead of having 4 separate devices. They are available in both page feed and flatbed. My experience with them is that they grab a lot of resources and control of Windows. If you can afford the space for separate devices, that is a better choice in my opinion.
Color vs. B/W. Our world is changing to a color world. There are few reasons to settle for a B/W unit today. Some businesses need only B/W and a laser type works just fine and keeps the cost of printing low.
All scanners have either USB or wireless connection. USB is more reliable if you have the scanner within cord distance from the computer.

The model of scanner you choose is not really important. I have owned Umax, HP, Brother and Canon and worked with great numbers of them and other brands with my clients and I have nothing negative to say about any brand or model with one exception. Check the ability of the scanner to scan edge to edge. We have had Brothers that cut off 1/4 inch of the edge. Our HPs scan edge to edge.

Older models may not work on newer computers.

Choosing a model involves size, resolution, cost and connection. You can buy cheap or used scanners, but you may want to spend a little more for better resolution. See the later discussion on this subject.

This leaves the question - How do I do it? We will continue this on Page 2.

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