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Issue #743: October 17-23, 2021

Q: When I scan a document, I cannot have it sent to a file on my desktop computer’s hard drive (I indicate a preferred destination). I get a message that says, “Epson PDF Plug-in Unable to write to file.” But I can send it to my external hard drive, and then copy the file from the external hard drive to my desktop’s internal drive.

 This is a nuisance which I would like to resolve. On the positive side, I end up having a backup file of everything I have scanned.

I look forward to your column every Saturday and appreciate your thoughtful responses to submitted queries.

Doug B.
Niceville, Florida

A: Thanks for the kind words, Doug.  I must tell you that I almost skipped your question in my queue, as I don’t have any direct experience with Epson scanners.  As you read my reply, I think you’ll also find a couple of key pieces of information were missing from your question, and that these are part of my suggested solution.  Finally, before I get into discussion of your problem, I want to compliment you on being the record holder for the lengthiest and most intricately detailed entry I’ve ever received in response to the “Describe your computer” portion of the contact form.  I’m guessing that some piece of software supplied at least part of that for you.  It was far more comprehensive than I need, but I’d rather have too much information than not enough.

For those readers who haven’t used document scanners, what Doug has is a device that takes an image of a document, much like a copier.  However, instead of directly printing a copy of it, it sends the scan to his computer.  Such devices can be connected either directly to the computer (such as via USB) or connected to the home network upon which the computer resides.  The file is supposed to be saved locally on the computer’s hard drive, but Doug is receiving a message indicating that for whatever reason, the software that drives the scanner is unable to perform the save.

So, in my attempt to formulate an answer for you, Doug, I naturally turned to that all-knowing font of all human knowledge commonly known as Google.  Long-time readers of the column know that I happen to be the lone holder of the coveted Geekudon Black Belt in the dark art of Google-Fu, so it’s kind of my bag. 

Now, you mentioned that you “indicate a preferred destination” for Epson’s software to save the scans.  I interpret this to mean you specified some folder on your PC other than “My Scans” which would be Windows’ default location.  One thing that could cause the error you’re receiving is if that folder doesn’t exist. So, make sure that the folder path you indicated to Epson exists, bearing in mind that it’s possible for folder names to be very similar.

Assuming that the path is valid and exists as specified, the next things to check are the files that already exist in that folder.  The Epson software defines a default filename pattern to name the scan files.  It uses that pattern to create unique names by appending a number to it.  A common pattern might be “Scan” which results in file names like “Scan001” (plus an extension such as .pdf, or .jpg).  Filenames in Windows must be unique, so for each new file created, the appended number is incremented by 1.  Using this scheme, you don’t have to specify a unique filename for every scan – one is created for you..

What I learned during my Google searching is that when the maximum appended number that the Epson software can use is 999.  When the number reaches 1000, the software simple fails to save the file.  The result is the error message you’re getting.  Reset the number to 001, or change the base filename, and you should be good for 1000 more scans.

I’m betting that the above is the solution to your problem, but in case it’s not, other possible solutions that I read about included making sure your driver software is up to the latest version, as vendors often correct such deficiencies after the hardware is released.  Another user stated that the problem was caused by his antivirus software.  His problem started when he switched to the free version of PC Tools Antivirus.  He discovered that temporarily shutting the antivirus software down while scanning allowed the scan to complete successfully.  Hopefully you too will fine success among these possible fixes.  Good luck.

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