Document scanners

Scanners are relatively simple devices, these days often incorporated with a printer in an "all-in-one". In this page we examine how thy work and the hardware or software problems that can occur.


Unlike a camera, a flat bed document scanner records a single row of pixels at a time using an illumination source and a row of sensors mounted on a bar which is drawn across the document by mechanical means. Problems can arise with the mechanics, the electronics or the software.

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(No particular safety issues?)

Types of Scanner

Principle of Operation

Mechanical Problems

Electronic Problems

Software Problems

Likely software issues are ...


Update drivers - from OEM support webpage, most offer this (but see below) Alternative - see VueScan below. Drivers and software are available for MacOS, Windows 10 and Linux.

Recently, a common problem, is that as Windows and Apple OSX operating systems upgrade, they have moved from 32-bit to 64-bit processing, and many scanners use drivers that are incompatible. Consequently it is no longer possible to get updated scanner drivers from some OEMs. One solution is to download drivers and VueScan software from Ed Hamrick ( They offer free versions, which are not updated, or you can pay a one-time fee for unlimited updates. Installation guides on the website. Drivers and software are available for MacOS, Windows 10 and Linux.

External links

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