What is the best way to use my copier as a scanner?
Here is a list of methods of scanning that you can use to scan documents from your all-in-one copier.
Scan to email – Probably the most common way to facilitate scanning in the industry. The important component to being able to scan to email is actually having an SMTP server to utilize as the gateway between your copier and the internet. Most people don’t realize that in order to communicate or send mail they will need a mail server or what I like to refer to as a “post office” to actually deliver the mail. If your company doesn’t have an SMTP server you can always use the settings from your ISP, internet provider or even a free mail service (gmail). This method is not necessarily the most efficient of the choices, since it requires sending an email, downloading the document and then either filing it or forwarding it to the proper personnel. Many businesses have become adapt to doing the process, so it seems to work and therefor utilized the most.
Scan to SMB – This is a fancy term for scanning to a shared folder on your desktop PC or even a networked server. This method will cut out the middle step of the needing to have a mail server, however it does require a more in-depth approach as it relates to your IT infrastructure. Since the need of having a “shared” folder on your computer is a requirement, you’ll need to be cautious in how this is setup. Make sure that only the proper security rights are issued and you don’t leave yourself vulnerable to a security or hacker attack. I like to advise my clients to create a separate user called “scanner” with a complex password to be implemented and only used for the purposes of scanning. If your network has rules setup for password changes and retention, make sure that when/if that password changes you are able to modify your copier or the scanning process will come to a grinding halt.
Scan to FTP – This method has certainly started to wane in comparison to the others, since the requirement of having an FTP server is needed. Modern day server operating systems (such as Windows) will include the ability to utilize FTP, but since it is a web services product, the setup and maintenance can be costly. If you are having people scan documents from remote locations to your central server this might be a good choice? Since you will be transmitting documents over the internet I do recommend you use an encrypted (SSL) connection. Leave this method to the professionals and ONLY if the need arises make the preparations for this method. Otherwise, any of the other choices should work fine.
Scan using a software utility – This is by far the most robust choice and also the one that will require the most research. There is a world of choices when it comes to software that facilitates scanning. Some are from independent developers and some are from the copier manufacturers. My advice when it comes to 3rd party software is simple: Make sure that your authorized copier dealer and the manufacturer both support the product. Marrying a copier, document management system, and connecting software is difficult enough, be certain that whomever is going to be responsible for the support is fully trained and on-board with the system. The last thing you need is to be caught in the middle of a hardware and software company pointing fingers at one-another while you are stuck in the middle with no production. At the risk of sounding biased, my recommendation would be to find a quality office equipment vendor to help you along with this process. Since the world of scanning centers around the device that will actually be moving your documents, it’s a smart move to get that person involved.
With all of these choices (and some I’m certain I missed) it’s important to do your homework and choose methods of scanning that will work for you. Once you start to use a particular system and find it works to your liking, you’ll begin to realize very quickly that you don’t know how you got along without. Knowing that your stored documents become one of the most important pieces to your business, you won’t want to entrust this task to just someone looking to make a sale. Find a quality partner, one you can see a long term relationship that will evolve.
Best of luck and happy scanning.