Home > Uncategorized > Scanning from a Canon MX870 to the cloud

Scanning from a Canon MX870 to the cloud

We have a Canon MX870. I love it – in fact, before it, I had an MX860. They’re compact, well-built, and fully featured. I love the fact I can scan to an SD card even when all the PCs in the house are off, with no need for PC drivers/apps, and also, that this scan to SD card can scan a multipage duplex document straight to a multipage PDF far faster than if it was writing to a PC via network or USB.

In fact, I like it so much, that I’m reluctant to drop it for the newer cloud-enabled and network-enabled MFDs, such as the HP Officejet Pro series. I’ve briefly owned one myself, so did discover many of the cool features this can offer such as iOS apps to scan directly to the cloud, or the ability to AirPrint from an iPhone to a printer – something the MX870 can’t do.

However – we have a pain. That pain is that whenever we scan to SD card, we then have to remove the SD card, insert it into a laptop, and move the contents across before organising them. It often leads to the card going missing in one of the PCs, and needing to be found before the next scan can happen. It also often means duplicate files, if one of us copies rather than moves the files on the SD card, so that the next person to use the SD card copies all the files again.

So – I set about hacking together a solution.

What I had to work with, was an HP Microserver that’s always-on, running Windows Home Server 2011. That gives me the ability to run all sorts of windows apps, and have an always-on OS, storage and networking in the house.

In short, the process I have running is this:

  • I scan a multipage document to SD card as PDF
  • SyncBackSE is running as a frequent Scheduled Task on the microserver with Fast Backup enabled, to sync any new files on the Canon MX870 network share of the SD card contents, to a datestamped folder on the server
  • The top-level PC folder for the scans is monitored by Sugarsync, which syncs any new/changed files in real-time to all our PCs and the cloud
  • We then edit, delete, OCR and rename the scan files, and move them off to their final resting place in our documents archive folders
  • Every now and then, I remove the SD card and wipe it

Going into detail on each one of these.


Scan to PDF on SD card

This works as before – I run the scan, it gets written to the SD card, and done.


SyncbackSE sync from printer to microserver

This is the clever bit. The printer offers the contents of the SD card as a network or USB mounted drive; you can go to \\printer_ip\canon and see the PDFs, and copy them off. However – you can only copy, you can’t move – which means that if you were syncing files, and then renaming them on the PC as you go, then the old files would be copied again (since no sync system could really track that a file had been renamed, particularly if the size or hash is changed due to OCRing or editing). Thus you would get repeated duplicates.

Now – the network mount for the SD card is read only, so you can’t move/delete edited files. Well, you can, but you have to set this on the physical printer panel, and it is lost when you switch it off. Having to re-set this every time you turn the printer on sucks, so there needs to be a better way.

Enter SyncBackSE and its Fast Backup feature. This is designed to be fast, by remembering which files were synced, and thus not even checking the destination at the next job. This suits us fine, since we don’t want it to check – as we might have renamed or edited the destination. Hence, it might sync files SCAN_001 to SCAN_009, and I can then go and rename, delete, or edit those – but it will be unaware, and it won’t even attempt to sync those back to the SD card – which would fail, since it’s read-only.

As for the frequency – well, we want the file to be synced to the PC automatically pretty soon after we scan it, so I set a scheduled task to run every minute.


Sugarsync of the PC Scan folder

Note that I’m not really editing or renaming files yet – because I’m not logged into the microserver; it’s running headless under my desk. However, Sugarsync is watching the scan folder in real-time, and syncing it over the internet to all our family and work PCs.

What that means, is within a minute or two of the scan completing, size-depending, it’s updated on all the PCs. Then, when one of us edits or renames the file, or deletes it, that also is synced to all the PCs. Thus there is no duplication of effort, or even duplicate files.


So far, this seems to work.



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