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Document scanners may not be as popular as all-in-one printers, but they can still find a place in many traditional and home offices. Many feature duplex scanning capabilities for handling double-sided documents and images, as well as high-capacity automatic document feeders to eliminate manual scanning. Models from brands like Brother and Epson usually come packaged with suites of software to help edit digitized documents for maximum legibility.
These include: automatic blank page removal, handwriting detection, and automatic skew adjustment. Almost all document scanners available allow for wireless connections over Wi-Fi so you can send documents and images to your email, smartphone, or laptop without the need for a USB connection. You can also send digitized documents to cloud storage services like Dropbox and Google Drive to create off-site backup copies. If your office handles many different types of documents, you'll want to invest in a model that can handle everything from traditional letter-sized paper to business cards and receipts. Many brands also make mobile versions that are incredibly lightweight and compact for easier travel to off-site client meetings; they're especially useful for contractors and estimators who need to quickly create digital copies of invoices and payment receipts. Take a look at our top picks below to see which document scanner is right for your office.
Best Overall: Brother ADS-2700W
The Brother ADS-2700W is a well-rounded document scanner that will be at-home in either a traditional or home office. With a 50 page capacity automatic feed, you can load your documents for scanning and then go back to your desk to do other things while you wait. It's also capable of duplex (double-sided) scanning, so it can read both sides of a page in a single pass, saving you even more time. With duplex scanning enabled, this model is capable of processing up to 35 pages per minute, and you can scan to PC file folders, network locations, and cloud storage services like Google Drive. You can connect your mobile devices and computers to the scanner via Wi-Fi for wireless scanning as well. The 8-inch color touchscreen makes it fast and easy to select scan locations, set up security functions, and format digitized documents. The Brother ADS-2700W is compatible with Windows, Mac, and Linux based computers.
Best Budget: Canon CanoScan Lide 300
While flatbed scanners aren't as popular as they once were, they still can find a place in any home or traditional office. The Canon CanoScan Lide 300 is designed for making high-quality scans of both text and images. It has a 2400 DPI resolution, making it perfect for scanning photos, detailed graphs and tables, and fine text.
It does require a manual feed and has a slow scanning speed of 10 seconds per page, but it's perfect for offices and home-based professionals that need to only scan things occasionally or need finely detailed digital copies of things. The bed lid has a floating hinge that lets it sit up to 21mm over the glass, allowing you to scan bulky items like books, magazines, and framed photos.
The front of the scanner has four, intuitive buttons for creating searchable PDFs, automatically detecting and scanning items, and sending files to PC or network locations. It also has a very affordable price point, making it a perfect entry-level scanner for home offices and very small businesses.
Best for Speed: Kodak ZY1534
For businesses that need documents scanned quickly, the Kodak ZY1534 is a great option. This model is capable of scanning up to 150 pages per minute, giving you a daily cycle of up to 125,000 scans. The automatic document feeder holds up to 500 pages, and with intelligent document detection features, you can load multiple documents at once and scan them to different locations in your computer or local network. If you scan images, you'll get features like auto orientation to correct skew and punch hole removal for cleaner-looking final images. The price tag on this scanner is fairly high, so smaller businesses and home offices may want to look elsewhere, but mid-size and Fortune 500 companies will find it a worthy investment.
Related: The Best Portable Scanners
[Note: This printer is retailing for $18K on Amazon and Walmart. Is this the correct model?]
Best Wireless: Brother ImageCenter ADS-2800W
In a world where mobile devices are quickly becoming part of the arsenal of office equipment, being able to scan wirelessly is important. Fortunately, the Brother ImageCenter ADS-2800W is built for mobile workforces. With Wi-Fi connectivity, you can quickly send documents to your smartphone, tablet, or laptop with a push of a button; you can also set up automatic scanning functions to send digitized documents directly to network locations or cloud storage services like Dropbox or Google Drive.
The scanner is built to handle everything from plastic laminated employee ID cards to receipts and standard documents. It comes bundled with a suite of software that makes it easy to create PDF and Microsoft Word documents that can be searched and cross-referenced later. To keep your new scanner safe from unauthorized use, you can set up user authentication functions to make sure only your employees can use it.
Best for Multiple Document Sizes: Raven Document Scanner
For offices or front desks that handle just about any size and kind of document imaginable, the Raven Document Scanner is the best option for efficient scanning and organization. It's built to handle business cards, ID cards, receipts, traditional documents, legal documents, and even heavyweight paper at up to 40 pages per minute.
It comes with an original character recognition function that detects, parses, and digitizes handwriting to create clean, legible text. The free Raven Cloud subscription lets you upload copies of your scans to cloud storage services like their own Raven Cloud, Dropbox, Google Drive, and Quickbooks Online. You can also create searchable PDF files to organize and cross reference client files, employee expense reports, and internal memos. The 50 page capacity automatic document feeder has an anti-jam feature to alert you to any problems and protect original copies from damage.
Best for Home Offices: Epson Workforce ES-580W
The Epson Workforce ES-580W is a great option for professionals who work from home. This affordable model features a compact design that's easy to tuck away on a shelf or the corner of your desk when not in use, and it features the ability to scan directly to a USB flash drive; perfect for when your laptop battery is dead and you need to scan reports, or when you need to make backup files of important documents.
With Wi-Fi connectivity, you can also wirelessly scan to your computer, mobile device, or cloud storage service. The 100 page capacity ADF lets you load multiple documents at once, and duplex scanning lets you process up to 35 pages (70 images) per minute so you can tackle large documents quickly. It comes with a suite of software for recognizing and digitizing handwriting or creating searchable PDFs. The scanner is compatible with both Windows and macOS computers, so no matter what you use in your home office or shared workspace, you won't have any compatibility issues.
Best Mobile: Brother DS-740D
If your office happens to be wherever you are that day, the Brother DS-740D mobile scanner is a worthy investment. It measures 11.9 x 2.5 x 1.8 inches and weighs just under 1.5 pounds, making it easy to slip into a laptop bag or backpack when heading out for off-site client meetings. It requires a manual feed of single sheets, but it can process up to 16 pages per minute, which is perfect for copying invoices, estimates, and receipts for your records.
It's powered by a micro USB 3.0 cable that doubles as the data transfer cable, so you can power the scanner with your laptop even when there aren't any outlets available. You can scan documents to PC or network locations, cloud storage services, and even email. It works with PC, Mac, and Linux computers.
Related: The Best Receipt Scanners
The Brother ADS-2700W (view at Amazon) is one of the best document scanners on the market. It has a scanning speed of up to 35 pages per minute, and has a duplex scanning feature for double-sided pages. You can wirelessly scan documents to PC, network, and even cloud storage services. The Canon CanoScan Lide 300 (view at Amazon) is a great entry-level scanner for home-based professionals and small businesses. You can create searchable PDFs, and the floating hinge lets you scan bulky items.
What to Look For in a Document Scanner
Whether you're looking at a flatbed or automatic feed scanner, you'll want to see how many pages you can fit into it at any one time. Automatic feed style scanners can hold upwards of 100 pages at once, letting you quickly scan large documents or multiple documents without needing to stand around and wait for the machine to be done so you can change out sheets of paper.
A scanner's online store description or box in a brick-and-mortar store should tell you how many pages or images per minute it can scan. This will give you an idea of how fast you'll be able to digitize photos and documents.
Color vs B&W
If you're dealing primarily with text documents without graphs, a black and white scanner will be fine for your home or office. However, if you need to scan images or documents with charts and tables, a color scanner is better for capturing a true-to-life facsimile.
What is the best way to scan documents?
That really depends on the document. If it's just a page or two, a flatbed style scanner would be perfectly fine. If it is printed on oversized paper or has more than 5 pages, you'll want to use a scanner with a loading tray and automatic page feeder to quickly digitize your text. Springing for a scanner that is capable of duplex (double-sided), single-pass scanning is another way to quickly digitize large documents since it can read both sides of a page at the same time.
Why should I scan my documents?
Redundancy is a safety and security measure for both home and traditional offices. Having digitized copies of everything from receipts and invoices to client contracts protects you against bookkeeping errors and helps keep everything organized. You can easily compile digitized documents into a searchable database to quickly pull up monthly sales reports, client information, or contracts. And digital copies can't get accidentally shredded or tossed in the recycling bin.
How much does it cost to scan documents?
If you invest in a standalone scanner or all-in-one printer with a scan function, you'll have to consider costs of operation such as toner, paper, electricity, and maintenance on top of the price of the unit. Fortunately, scanners are sold at a variety of price points so even very small businesses with meager budgets can find a model that works for them. If you don't need to scan things very often, places like Staples and Office Depot offer document scanning services, but these can cost up to US$1 per page, so you'll have to weigh the pros and cons of each option to see which is right for your home or office.
Meet the Expert
Taylor Clemons is a tech writer who has written for IndieHangover, GameSkinny, TechRadar, The Inventory, and The Balance: Small Business. Taylor specializes in PC components, operating systems, and gaming console hardware.