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How to Choose the Right Scanner for Your Computer

Scanner Guide

How to Choose the Right Scanner for Your Computer

Here’s how to find the right type of scanner for your business, home office, or hobby.

A scanner is an invaluable bridge between physical media and their digital representations stored on hard drives and cloud services. Dozens upon dozens of scanner models offer unique features suited for certain use cases, but how do you know which is the best kind for your specific needs?

This guide will help you identify the right type of scanners for computers depending on what kinds of documents you need to digitize and where. It will suggest key features to consider within each category and will leave you with a recommended product to get you started in your search. Now let’s start narrowing down what kind of computer scanner you may need.

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What is a scanner?

Find the scanner for you by...

  • Planning out how many pages you will need to scan in a typical day
  • Deciding what image quality you require for your computer scanner
  • Determining how large of a paper backlog you have and how quickly you want to digitze the records

Document scanners are devices used to digitize paper documents so their contents can be stored on a computer. They come in a variety of forms and sizes to meet your personal or business needs. Automatic document fed (ADF) scanners scan both sides of of documents quickly and single-purpose flatbeds capture delicate, odd sized and bound periodicals.

Key features for scanners by use case

Personal and small business

What kind of scanner is best suited for personal life as well as small business? Look for a model that offers one-touch scanning. This will allow family members or employees to use the device with minimal need for training. Also, prioritize a small footprint and the versatility to handle a range of daily documents, such as ID cards and envelopes.

Enterprise scanners

Scanners are the start of an effective automation workflow for many enterprises. To keep this process running smoothly, look for a computer scanner that can handle a high expected daily volume and ensure optimal legibility via automatic image clean up.

Specialized scanners

Some documents require special care when scanning due to their contents, size, shape, or fragility. For instance, if your business needs to scan books or other bound documents, you may wish to invest in an overhead or flatbed computer scanner.

Read more about choosing the best scanner for your purposes in How to Find the Best Scanner for Documents By Use Case.

Our recommendation

ScanSnap and fi Series scanners

No two business’ document digitization needs are exactly the same. But if you want a scanner that will be precise, efficient, and reliable across applications, the full lines of RICOH ScanSnap and fi Series scanners are an excellent place to start your search.

Business scanners: Make the professional choice

Business scanners are made to…

  • Scan high volumes of documents daily
  • Tackle a variety of page formats
  • Work reliably and efficiently with minimal employee intervention

One of the most common types of scanner for computers is the business machine that digitizes dozens, hundreds, or even thousands of documents in a day. It is now easier than ever to find a scanner with a small footprint to fit into your environment.


Made for demanding workflows, the fi-8270 employs innovative feeding and Clear Image Capture technology to deliver industry-leading reliability. The flatbed provides even more utility, making it possible to scan very thick documents and bound periodicals.

Key features for the best business scanners

Fast and versatile scanning

A business scanner should be equipped with an automated document feeder to quickly work through stacks of documents, and it should be able to tackle a variety of document sizes in a single batch.

Network and software compatibility

Changing your business’ data infrastructure can be inconvenient at best or impossible at worst, so be sure to prioritize your current network and software protocols.

Easy to use controls

A business scanner should be easy to use for anyone in your business, not just the tech-savvy. A large, legible display and a sensible set of well-labeled controls will make a big difference.

Did You Know? Ricoh offers custom design and integration solutions to help meet your business’ computer scanner needs. Click here to learn more.

High speed scanners: Digitization done quickly

High speed scanners should…

  • Prioritize reliability as well as raw speed
  • Be able to work through large batches with minimal intervention

Your document digitization device should accelerate your workflow, not cause a bottleneck. If you need to scan large quantities of documents on any given day and can’t afford to wait around for slow scans or to refill small automatic document feeder (ADF) chutes, you should prioritize a high speed scanner.


With a large, 300-page hopper and advanced engineering, the fi-7600 is a popular mid-office scanner can handle wide and normal-size documents at high speeds.

Key features for the best high speed scanners

Scan speed

The speed of scanners for computers is typically measured in pages per minute, with faster scanners easily eclipsing 100 PPM. A large ADF chute will allow for bigger batches, making the most of that speed.

Scan quality

No matter how fast it was scanned, a digitized document is only useful if it’s legible. Even a high speed scanner must place a strong emphasis on getting clear, high-quality scans the first time.

Trustworthy construction

Scanners have numerous moving parts, and digitizing thousands of documents in a day means more potential for machine failure. Prioritize a device that’s built to last, with easy-to-replace consumable components.

Management software

Sorting and storing all those freshly digitized documents can be a massive undertaking, but specialized scanning software can use optical character recognition (OCR) and other intelligent functions to make it quick and easy.

Read more about high speed scanners in High Speed Scanners: What to Look For When Time is a Factor.

Photo scanners: Picture perfect digitization

Photo scanner benefits include…

  • Storing photographs that would otherwise decay
  • Handling potentially fragile materials with care

Whether you’re a professional photographer or someone looking to preserve and share albums full of precious family moments, a photo scanner can be an invaluable tool. Scanning photos comes with some special considerations beyond standard printed documents, so here’s what to keep in mind.

ScanSnap® iX1400

The ScanSnap iX1400 provides a hassle-free experience with one-touch scanning and fast, reliable performance day after day.

Key features for the best photo scanners

Image quality

If you plan on scanning photos for later reprinting, you will want to opt for a flatbed scanner option that supports very high resolutions such as 1200 to 4800 dot per inch (DPI). If you want to preserve large volumes of photos, an ADF computer scanner will work through them faster, though the image quality likely won’t be as high.


Picking out a scanner that works well with your entire setup will save you headaches down the line; make sure you choose a model that’s compatible with your OS, devices, and cloud storage services.


Not all photos come in the same size, so your photo scanner should be able to easily tackle everything from automatic Polaroid prints to larger studio prints. Easily optimized settings should make the most of each scan.


Your photo scanner should fit in conveniently wherever you scan your photos; measure your working space and compare it to each product’s official dimensions before you choose a model.

Art scanners: Preserving creativity

Reasons to invest in an art scanner...

  • Capture works of art while minimizing physical handling
  • Take high-resolution images that convey every detail

Two-dimensional art comes in many different forms, but there’s at least one constant: it’s all worth preserving and sharing. You can’t fit a stretched canvas through a scanner’s ADF chute. Thankfully, specialized art scanners make preserving work digitally while leaving the original in excellent condition a reality.

ScanSnap SV600

This innovative overhead-style, contactless scanner brings a new perspective to document scanning. The overhead LED makes it easy to scan artwork, photos, newspapers, magazines, books, and documents without cutting or damaging them.

Key features for the best art scanners

Contactless scanning

To avoid damaging art, it’s essential to handle it as little as possible. The ideal art scanner should be able to digitize without direct contact.

Minimal footprint

Though they are specialized pieces of equipment, art scanners needn’t dominate a space to be effective and reliable.

Powerful software

The scanning itself is just the first step; your scanner should also support software to help store and catalog your digitized images.

Did You Know? GeekDad reviewed the SV600 and said “this thing is pure and simple magic.” Click here to learn more.

Small scanners: Fit performance anywhere

Opt for a small scanner if…

  • You don’t have much space
  • You prefer a clean, minimal working environment
  • You’ll need to move the scanner frequently

Scanners don’t have to take up a whole countertop to be an effective and efficient part of your workflow — they don’t even need to dominate your desk. The eternal march of miniaturization means you can find features and quality in a scanner with a footprint that would have been impossible in years past.

ScanSnap® iX100

Take scanning beyond your desktop and into the mobile world with this completely wireless, compact, battery-powered scanner.

Key features for the best small scanners

Wireless connectivity

Wi-Fi support will help make the most of a scanner’s smaller size by allowing it to be used in a much broader variety of settings.

Multi-document support

Support for an ADF (automated document feeder) will let your little scanner be a huge productivity boon, working through dozens of documents all on its own.

The right working space

Though the device may not take up much space while inactive, keep in mind that parts such as the ADF chute and paper tray may need more room during operation.

Read more about small scanners in Small Scanners: What To Look For When Size is a Factor.

Small printer scanners: Versatile performance, compact footprint

Choose a small printer scanner if...

  • You want to save space over standalone models
  • You want to establish a single convenient location
  • Save money by purchasing one device

Need a lot of document utility in not a lot of space? It may be time to look into small printer scanners. These devices combine the utility of a traditional scanner and printer, making them an ideal choice for optimizing space and simplifying workflows.

Key features for the best small printer scanners


Since one device will handle both printing and digitizing documents, that device must be easily accessible. Look for small printer scanners that support ethernet and Wi-Fi connections so everyone in the office or household can benefit.

Ease of use

More functions sometimes means more complexity. Make sure your small printer scanner has a unified and easy-to-grasp user interface. This will allow users to navigate through its many capabilities to find what they need.


Look for a device that saves you time instead of creating bottlenecks. Keep an eye out for printing speeds of at least 20 pages per minute. Meanwhile, scanner tray capacities of 30 or more pages let you “set and forget” digitization for many types of documents.

Read more about small printer scanner options in How to Choose the Right Compact Printer for Your Office.

Home office scanners: Empower your remote work

Home office scanners should be…

  • Easy to use
  • Affordable
  • Effective for numerous document types

The explosion in remote and hybrid work in the last few years has expanded our concept of who can work from where, and home office scanners will help you handle more business without ever stepping outside your front door.

ScanSnap® iX1300

The ScanSnap iX1300 empowers users with faster, more convenient, Wi-Fi-enabled scanning in an incredibly compact operating footprint, enabling work in virtually any environment.

Key features for the best home office scanners

Speed and reliability

The move to remote work has increased the demand for more intelligent working, and an effective scanner setups at home will be able to digitize stacks of documents with speed and minimal effort on your part.

Comprehensive software

Your home office scanner should help handle the heavy lifting of sorting and storing digitized documents via effective software, as well as supporting quick image editing where needed.


Just because you’ve turned part of your home into an office doesn’t mean you should need to wire it up like one. Look for Wi-Fi support to make your life easier when scanning to your PC, mobile devices, or cloud services.

Small size

You dedicate enough of your life to work — don’t let it take over a big chunk of your home on top of that. Thankfully, modern scanners don’t need to be large to be fully featured.

Scanners for Windows 10 and Mac: Support your OS

Pick an OS-supported scanner to…

  • Avoid searching for custom drivers or utilities
  • Make sure your scanner is compliant with all your preferred devices

Whether you’re on a Mac or a PC, you want to make sure your scanner works out of the box with no need for special drivers or other technical headaches. Cross-platform support could be a nightmare in years past, but it's fortunately a more common feature now.

ScanSnap® iX1400

The ScanSnap iX1400 provides a hassle-free experience with one-touch scanning and fast, reliable performance day after day.

Key features for the best scanners for Windows 10 and Mac


Minimize installation time and potential headaches down the road by making sure your scanner comes pre-configured to support your OS of choice.

Automated document feeding

If you plan on digitizing more than one document at a time, an automated document feeder will be a advantage for your workflow.

Scanning software

The scanner should also come with software for sorting, editing, and storing your documents, all compatible with your OS of choice.

Shop Scanners Now

Digital imaging solutions built with your business in mind.

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With the right computer scanner in your home or office (or a combination of the two), you’ll be ready to bridge the gap between physical and digital work. Check out our full line of ScanSnap scanners and fi Series scanners to learn more.

Note: Information and external links are provided for your convenience and for educational purposes only, and shall not be construed, or relied upon, as legal or financial advice. PFU America, Inc. makes no representations about the contents, features, or specifications on such third-party sites, software, and/or offerings (collectively “Third-Party Offerings”) and shall not be responsible for any loss or damage that may arise from your use of such Third-Party Offerings. Please consult with a licensed professional regarding your specific situation as regulations may be subject to change.