How to Install a Scanner on a Computer

Many all-in-one printer-copier-fax machines also function as scanners.
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Your new scanner enables you to digitize hard copies of documents, photos and artwork -- after it's installed, that is. While the process of installing new hardware like scanners is considerably easier now than it was in the past, the task can still be daunting for a newcomer. The exact process of installing your new scanner will vary from one manufacturer and model to the next, but just about any scanning device will have some similarities.

Getting Ready

Before you begin, lay out everything that came in the box and check it over. In most cases, this includes the scanner itself, the owner's manual, connection cables, a power cable and a CD with scanning software and device drivers. Make sure the cables are free from kinks or damage, that the CD has no scratches and most importantly that everything the manual calls for during installation was actually included. Also, prepare your computer for installation: There should be unoccupied ports ready for the connection cables, as well as an available nearby power outlet. Power on the computer and close any nonessential programs before beginning the installation.

Connecting Your Scanner

Plug in your scanner's power source. In most cases, the scanner will have a dedicated power cable that connects to a standard power outlet, but some small, hand-held scanners may use batteries or a USB cable for power. You'll also need to connect the scanner to your computer using the supplied cables, which in most cases will be USB cables. Windows should immediately begin discovering the device upon connection and start installing the basic drivers available through the USB connector. In most cases, this gives you immediate access to the scanner's basic functions, unless they're restricted to the bundled scanning software.

Installing Software and Drivers

Almost all scanners come with some bundled software on a CD and a set of device drivers on that same disc. The drivers are necessary for your computer and your scanner to communicate properly, but often the drivers on the CD aren't the most recent ones available. Check the manufacturer's website for the latest drivers for your scanner to ensure that they're completely up-to-date. Depending on the scanner, the other software on the disc may or may not be necessary for scanning documents. In many cases, other software designed to interact with scanners works just as well, but using the manufacturer-provided software is a sound idea because it's designed to interact with that specific scanner.

Troubleshooting Issues

While in most cases the installation can be smooth and problem-free, problems can occur. When they do, consult the troubleshooting section of your owner's manual to diagnose the problem. Confirm that you downloaded and installed the correct drivers for your operating system and scanner; they have to precisely match to provide maximum compatibility. Check that the connections between the computer and the scanner are secure, that the scanner is securely plugged in to its power source, and that all packing materials designed to keep it motionless during transport have been removed. Consult your owner's manual to ensure you're using the correct procedure when scanning.