The Copier Guy

Photocopy Vs Scan: What Are The Differences

Photocopy vs Scan - What Are The Differences

Since the 1970s, photocopiers have been an essential component of office equipment. Meanwhile, in 1957, a drum scanner was the first picture scanner designed for a computer.

It may be hard telling the difference between a photocopier and a scanner since they seem to work in the same fashion, but the output technique is absolutely different.

What is Scanning?

Document scanning or document imaging is the process of turning a paper document into a digital picture (or microfilm).

Scanning creates a digital copy of a document. The digital copy can then be stored and sent digitally as well.

It’s a great way to reduce the physical storage of paper especially if you want to go paperless.

What is Photocopying?

Instead of creating a digital copy of a document, photocopying creates a paper copy or hardcopy.

It’s a great way to create copies of a document for distribution.

Similarities Between Photocopy and Scan

The main similarity between a photocopy and a scan is that they both make digital copies of a document.

The first stages of photocopying and scanning are the same which is to create a digital copy of a document.

This is putting a document on the platen, which is a flat glass surface on the device’s top. You can also put it in the document feeder, which allows multiple papers to be copied or scanned at once.

Also Read: Learn How to Photocopy on a Printer in Minutes

After this first step, the next stages are what separates photocopying from scanning.

Difference Between Photocopy and Scan

People often use photocopy and scan interchangeably without really knowing the differences. 

Although it has been pointed out that the first step is similar, other stages of the procedure, on the other hand, are entirely different.

The significant differences are shared below by category.


Scanning creates a digital copy to be stored somewhere while photocopying doesn’t just create a digital copy but also prints it out.

Scanners are tools for businesses, schools, entrepreneurs, or company owners who wish to become “paperless.” 

After creating a digital copy, it sends documents to a computer (through email or network) for storage or saves them on a USB or memory card.

Scanners lack output trays, ink systems, and printing capabilities; they only create digital copies.

Photocopiers don’t just create digital copies but also printouts of the document.

Photocopiers are equipped with their own ink system, output trays, and printing capabilities to create copies of a document.

Thus, if you want to just create a digital copy, use a scanner. However, if you are looking to create a physical copy, use a photocopier.

User Interface

Document copying is a less time-consuming and less complicated method than scanning. Most photocopiers need users to just click a button to begin the photocopying process. 

This single-click scans and prints the document in one go. Additional options allow you to alter the print quality or the number of copies printed.

On the other hand, scanning needs a fundamental understanding of computers to handle scans’ transmission, storage, and editing.

Scanners create a digital copy that needs to be stored somewhere and retrieved later to be used.

Photocopiers vs Scanners: How Do They Work?

The information below will help you tell how each machine works, based on quality, speed, and advancements.


Scanners are handy for converting text or photographs into high-resolution digital images. The digital copies may then be sent through email or shared with others on your network.


Scanners work on a page-by-page basis, making them slower than copiers, which can handle numerous pages at once.

Scanning and then getting a document’s hardcopy is two steps; photocopying involves just one step.

Furthermore, copiers make numerous copies of your scanned documents, making mass document reproduction swift and straightforward.


High-end copiers can also collate and staple groups of papers; something scanners can’t do.

Printing vs Photocopy

Though they are very similar, printing should not be mistaken for photocopying.

There are two options when it comes to creating a document using paper

  • Printing a document from a digital copy
  • Photocopying a document from a physical paper

Two different types of equipment are required for each of these options. A printer for printing and a photocopier for photocopying.

However, with the advancement of technology, many people are unsure about the differences between these two machines since many multi-purpose printers now have copier capabilities.

It’s not difficult to tell the difference since a copier’s main objective is to create duplicate copies, but a printer’s primary goal is to print.

With printing, you need to have the digital copy of the document first before getting it on paper. This is where a scanner comes into play. This means that you may need to scan a document first before it can be printed out.

Photocopying doesn’t need a scanned digital copy. As long as you have a hard copy of the document, you can print out copies of it.

Key Takeaways

With all the details provided above, it is well established that photocopiers and scanners work similarly, but their output is different.

New generation gadgets, however, combine these two features. For example, multifunction devices combine a printer, copier, and scanner into one device, providing you with all of the features you need, including faxing.

Read More: Multifunction Printer: Advantages & Disadvantages

Most modern photocopiers offer scanning and faxing capabilities as well, making them an ideal all-in-one machine for printing, copying, scanning, and even faxing.

Also Read: Important Copier Features To Look Out For

If you are looking for a photocopier for your copying and scanning needs, The Copier Guy offers competitive photocopier rental packages for businesses in KL & Selangor.

Contact us now to learn more about our packages and improve your document copying process.

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