Mailbag: The stuttering scanner
This was originally a forum post, but I’ve found the discussion to be useful to a broader audience, so I’m duplicating it in this space and adding some more information.
Q.: When I use my scanner, I am finding it takes an annoyingly long time for one scan, and it does this “stepping” when it scans. Instead of smoothly and quickly doing a scan pass like the old scanner, it scans, stops, scans, stops etc until it gets to the end of the glass. I am currently using Vuescan for the software, is that possibly the problem, or is there some setting I am missing that will make this thing scan faster?
A.: Although I don’t know this for a fact, the way I always rationalized it was this: The scanner creates digital information through the scan bed and transfers it to the hard drive. I was doing 600 dpi or higher scans that encompassed most of the 8.5 x 14-in scan bed. That’s a lot of information to send to the hard drive, and I would imagine “traffic jams” of information which would cause the scanner to pause momentarily. After all, the scanner is a sender, not a store-er, so when information is not clearing the pathway, it’s unable to create more until that pathway is cleared.
Doing a little Google-Fu, I found this from a Hewlettt packard Web site that offers some easily actionable steps you may wish to attempt:
Resolving RAM and memory leakage
To regain the leaked memory Restart the computer. Then retry the scan.
Random Access Memory (RAM) is the memory used to run applications. As more applications open, less RAM is available for use.
Memory leakage occurs when an application is closed, but does not return the entire amount of RAM it was allocated by the operating system.
Memory leakage decreases the amount of RAM available to run other applications, resulting in memory or disk space errors and slow or incorrect scans.
Verifying that minimum system requirements
Verify that the computer meets or exceeds the minimum amount of RAM required for [your] scanner.
The minimum system RAM information is on the box or found online in the product specifications.
Checking the amount of space available on the hard disk drive
• Open My Computer.
- In Windows 95, 98, Me, and 2000, Double-click My Computer .
- In Microsoft® Windows XP, click Start , and then click My Computer .
- Right-click the hard drive icon and select Properties to view the amount of hard disk space used and available. If there is more than one hard disk drive or drive partition, repeat this process for each physical drive letter listed. Do not do this for any listed network drives.
- From the Apple menu, select About This Mac.
- Click More Info. The About This Mac window appears.
- Click Storage. The window shown below appears.
Use this window to check how much hard drive space is available on your Mac. The startup disk is shown at the top of the list; other partitions are shown below. Notice that you can see how much of your hard drive space is being consumed by audio files, movies, etc. This information could be useful when your hard drive is nearly full and you need to delete some files.
Checking the amount of system resources available
Restart the computer and check the resources again. Usually more resources are available after restarting the computer. This is because of a condition called memory leakage. See the memory leakage section below for more information. Follow the steps listed below to check the system resources:
Windows 95, 98, and Me
- Right-click My Computer , and then click Properties .
- Click the Performance tab. The amount of memory free is expressed as a percentage.
Windows NT 4.0, 2000, and XP
- Press and hold the CTRL and ALT keys on the computer keyboard, and then press the DEL key once to bring up the Windows Security Screen.
- Click Task Manager .
- Click the Performance tab. The amount of memory being used will be displayed as well as a graph of memory usage over time.
Check is Activity Monitor (in the Utilities folder). This will enable you to check the vital signs of your system’s performance while it’s running.
Click on “System Memory”. If you have little to no “Free” memory (or the Free memory is below a few hundred megabytes) — or if you have Swap Used — then consider getting more RAM. If “swap” space is used, your computer has run out of physical memory and is using a portion of your hard drive as temporary storage space. This will slow you down. Your hard drive isn’t meant for that.
Check the CPU usage. If your “% User” is substantially high (for example, if it’s consistently above 50%), then you may have applications running that are using more system resources than needed. Consider closing unused or unneeded applications. You can also use the Process drop-down menu to select “My Processes.” Check the list to see if any unused processes are currently running. If they are, consider closing them.
By the way, that’s where that whole “launch applications upon startup” function kind of bites you in the behind. If you’re launching, say, InDesign and Photoshop on start-up — and then not using them immediately — you’re eating up a lot of memory.
Go to System Preferences, then to Users & Groups and then click on the Login Items tab to see a list of the apps that open when you boot your Mac. Uncheck the apps you don’t need at startup.
Cleaning up the computer system
- Windows 98, Me, 2000, and XP users should run Disk Cleanup to remove temporary files
- Click Start , click Programs , click Accessories , click System Tools , and then select Disk Cleanup .
- The tool will request which drive it is to cleanup, even if only one hard disk drive is installed. Select the hard disk drive(s), and then click OK .
- Disk Cleanup analyzes the hard drive and presents a report (Figure 2). Make sure that Temporary Internet Files , Downloaded Program Files , Recycle Bin , and Temporary Files are selected. Then click OK to perform the cleanup operation.
Open your Mac’s built-in Disk Utility program and click on your hard drive in the left panel. Make sure you are viewing the First Aid tab and then click the Repair Disk button in the lower-right corner. This will run a lengthy scan of your desktop, making repairs as necessary.
To clear the cache that your Mac’s various applications and processes have stashed on your hard drive, install the free utility, OnyX. Open the Cleaning tab at the top of the app. Check off items across six categories, clicking Execute to delete the cache of the checked items, freeing up space on your hard drive.