The Difference Between a Scanner and an MFP

Data-driven decision making is driving growth and innovation in every industry. But as companies jump on this trend en masse, many are discovering a hidden weakness in their operations: their office equipment.

Data-driven management only works when you can get data to the right people at the right time in the right format. Often, that data is digital and can be shared and analyzed easily. Sometimes the data is on paper and needs to be converted to a digital input for decision-making.

Confusion over the differences between scanners and multifunction printers (MFPs) — also known as multifunction devices or peripherals — often lies at the heart of companies' tech and data-sharing challenges. Here's what you need to know to choose the right equipment for your business.

The Difference Between MFPs and Scanners

At first glance, the average MFP and scanner look quite similar. Each has a slot for feeding paper into the machine and an array of controls to choose how you want to process documents. Both create duplicates of the documents you insert.

The critical difference lies in the type of duplicates each device produces.


A multifunction printer, or MFP, is a piece of office equipment that scans, copies, prints, emails, and faxes documents. If this sounds a lot like a copier to you, you’re not alone — many MFPs are referred to as copiers because of the primary function they’re used for. The main difference between MFPs and copiers is that MFPs are designed with a variety of tasks in mind.


Scanners translate your hard-copy document into a standardized, user-friendly digital format. These digital files can then:

  • Be saved to a centralized file server for easy access by all parties

  • Be saved directly to a Wi-Fi enabled device

  • Be sent to a printer if you need duplicate hard-copies

Scanners tend to create better-quality images than printers and — since files can be scanned directly to a printer — are an excellent complement to MFPs.

Scanners are ideal for:

  • Creating and saving digital back-ups of essential documents

  • Fast and efficient digital file-sharing and record-keeping 

  • Companies striving for low carbon footprints and eco-friendly paper-free office practices

Scanners from Kodak Alaris equipped with Smart Touch technology ensure that users get the best quality scans every time. They also save users time and money by giving them the ability to save files in preferred formats straight to their end destinations right away.

Scanners vs. MFPs: Which Is Best?

Many businesses assume that they need a multifunctional device that is a scanner, copier, and printer all in one. What most don't know is that these devices are actually less efficient than a good quality scanner with the right software.

For example, a scanner from Kodak Alaris with Smart Touch technology can scan a standard document in 17 seconds. The resulting file is 0.7 MB in size.

MFPs with scanner and copier functions can take up to four times as long, and the resulting file can be up to four times as large.

That makes companies using MFPs at least 75% less efficient than businesses using scanners only!

MFPs are also prone to paper jams and lack the innovative, specialized features of scanners, such as optical character recognition, for versatility.

[Related: Truck Dealer Group Drives Savings and Efficiency With Fleet of Alaris S2050 Scanners]

Learn More

Learn more about how a Smart Touch-enabled scanner can replace your existing scanner and MFP setup, saving you time and money today. Explore the solutions scanners from Kodak Alaris offer or contact us for personalized support.

Related solutions

smart touch

Smart Touch Technology

  • Eliminate complicated multi-step scanning processes with one-touch simplicity
  • Configure up to twenty different functions to fit your specific scanning needs
  • Easily scan a document to a file location or common cloud services


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