How to Find the Best Scanner for Documents By Use Case

How to Find the Best Scanner for Documents By Use Case

From small, personal scanners to high-volume workhorses, learn what each category of document scanner has to offer.

Choosing the right document scanner for your needs takes some research. There are devices designed to suit every business application, meaning that the careful buyer will need to spend some time before committing to a solution.

From small, personal scanners to high-volume workhorses, the article explains what use cases each scanner category is meant for and what buyers should look for in a quality device. So get your solution requirements in hand, because by the end of this post, you'll be able to find the best document scanner for your needs.

Check out our guide, Document Scanners: Everything You Need to Go Digital in 2022, for even more expert advice and information.

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How to find the best scanner for documents for your needs

Personal and small business scanners

Enterprise scanners

High-volume scanners

Specialized scanners

Our recommendation: ScanSnap iX1600


How to find the best scanner for documents to suit your needs

Personal and small business scanners

If you’re working in an office of 30 or fewer people, then a personal or small business scanner is likely the best solution. Packing many of the features of enterprise devices into a more portable frame, small business scanners are versatile, efficient, and easy to use.

To help you find the best solutions in this category, use the following features as tell-tale signs of quality devices.

  • One-touch scanning: Good small business scanners don’t require any technical knowledge to operate: You shouldn’t have to do anything more than position the paper and press a button to start scanning.
  • All-in-one software: Top-of-the-line devices include a fully-featured software package that allows you to do all of your post-scan processing — from image editing to batch scanning.
  • Small operating footprint: Calendars, coffee cups, family photos, etc. — it’s easy for small office spaces to get cluttered. If saving space is a priority for you, then look for a scanner with a small operating footprint. The best document scanners in this category definitely will have taken that into consideration.
  • Small operating footprint: Calendars, coffee cups, family photos, etc. — it’s easy for small office spaces to get cluttered. If saving space is a priority for you, then look for a scanner with a small operating footprint. The best document scanners in this category definitely will have taken that into consideration.
  • Document processing versatility: It’s crucial to identify the documents you will need to scan such as IDs, passports, credit cards, envelopes, long documents, etc. and make sure the scanner you choose supports these items.

If you’re looking for a quality personal or small business scanner, consider the ScanSnap iX1600. Perfect for home offices, real estate, and small legal offices, this versatile device has all the features you want in a compact scanning solution.


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Enterprise scanners

For most enterprise needs, scanners serve as the foundation of an automation workflow that consistently, efficiently, and securely transforms physical documents into computer-readable data. Used everywhere from front desks to courtrooms, these devices focus on quickly capturing the document image, maximizing image quality, creating a text layer via image analysis, and passing that information to downstream software applications via robust integrations.

If this describes your device requirements, an enterprise-grade scanner might be the right fit for you. Read on to learn three essential qualities to look for in this type.

  • Expected daily volume: Often capable of expected daily processing volumes of around 10,000 sheets, enterprise scanners tend to be significantly more powerful than their small business counterparts.
  • Image enhancement: The best scanner for documents in this category will use advanced imaging enhancement tech to ensure all scanned documents are transformed into clean, analysis-ready images.
  • Uptime performance: Jams and other processing errors are universally frustrating, but they’re particularly costly at the enterprise level, where efficiency becomes more critical. This means prioritizing models known for reliability, low jam rates, and uptime performance.

When it comes to enterprise scanners, the fi-8170 is the world’s most popular front office scanner for nearly every vertical. Fast processing speeds, excellent image quality, and industry-leading reliability make it the trusted choice in numerous industries, including accounting, construction, transportation, medical, pharmaceutical, insurance, and banking.

High-volume scanners

Are you looking to clear out large quantities of documents to make way for more office space? Does your business have an archive or store of paper files that have yet to be digitized? Does your organization have to quickly transform a stream of documents into electronic copies as part of normal operations? If you said yes to any of these questions, you might be a perfect candidate for a high-volume scanner. These high-performance machines are built for use cases where massive influxes of documents need to be scanned at maximum levels of speed and accuracy.

While there’s an extensive list of key features to look for in a high-speed scanner, four of the most important are overall scanning rate, jam protection, hopper size, and input mechanics.

  • Overall scanning rate: This is one area where high-volume scanners shine. While every scanner in this category will be able to hit one document per second, top performers can more than double that pace.
  • Jam protection: Raw scanning capacity is a good figure to know, but horsepower isn’t all that useful if you spend half your workday fixing paper jams. If you want efficiency, look for a high-volume scanner with jam protection features.
  • Hopper size: For a high-volume scanner, you want the device’s hopper to be able to handle hundreds of pages at a time. The processing ceiling for these scanners is 500 pages, but they should at least have a hopper that can fit 100.
  • Input mechanics: Like jam protection, streamlined input mechanics help reduce total scan time. The best scanners in this class can dynamically adjust the distance between documents to provide reliable paper separation during paper pickup and downstream processing.

Only production-level scanners like the fi-7900 can handle reams of paper in multi-shift environments — and annual paper flow numbers in the millions to tens of millions.

Specialized scanners

While the scanners we’ve covered work well for most standard use cases, they aren’t ideal for some specialized needs. For example, if you regularly need to scan bulky objects — like bound books — you’ll want to find a scanner purpose-built to account for that document type. Although we won’t cover the entire landscape of specialized scanners here, we will review three of the most common: overhead scanners, mini flatbed scanners, and network scanners.

  • Overhead scanners: If books or other bound docs constitute a healthy percentage of what you process, you’ll probably want to look into purchasing an overhead scanner. Devices like the ScanSnap SV600 use advanced optics, lighting, and more to accurately and comprehensively retrieve information from bound materials.
  • Mini flatbed: If you’re primarily scanning smaller documents — like IDs, checks, credit cards, etc. — then consider a mini-flatbed scanner. Ideal for front office, reception, patient intake, and retail environments, these portable, lightweight devices streamline this sort of information processing. One of the top solutions in this category is the fi-65F: a mini-flatbed scanner designed for portability and fast scanning for small documents.
  • Network scanners: Network scanners are an excellent fit for businesses oriented towards optimization and process efficiency. Eliminating the need for additional network equipment, these connected devices allow you to transmit files directly to an endpoint, from on-premises servers to mobile phones, once a scan is complete. If this sounds like the solution you’re looking for, consider the N7100E. Compact and powerful, it’s the perfect stand-alone shared scanner for almost any situation.

Our recommended scanners

With over 50 years of experience designing and building electronics, we have developed some of the best scanners available today. While they’re all best-in-class devices, the solution that works best for you depends on your needs:

  • For small businesses or personal use, the ScanSnap iX1600 is a versatile, compact, and powerful scanning solution.
  • For enterprise-scale use, the fi-8170 can load up to 100 sheets of paper at a time and speed through them at a snappy 70 ppm.
  • For high-volume use cases, the fi-7900 can handle enormous, multi-shift workloads with minimal downtime.  

To learn more about these solutions — or shop our full line of scanners — just click here.