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I have a Brother MFC-6490cw printer/scanner. It has worked great and I use it mostly for scanning. But this weekend it started doing something very strange.

If all of the following are true:

  • Scanning on flatbed, [wrong - See my answer below.]
  • Scanning in color or greyscale, and
  • Scanning an image more than a couple of inches high

then the device starts scanning, but stops after after a couple of inches. It just stops and resets itself as if no scan had been requested or run. When attempting to scan in Acrobat, Acrobat issues the message, "Scanning cancelled." In PhotoShop or ControlCenter3, there is no message at all.

If any of the following is true:

  • Scanning with sheet feeder, [wrong - See my answer below.]
  • Scanning in black and white, or
  • Scanning document size "Business card"

then the scan runs and finishes properly.

In PhotoShop in color, I tried the following variations, all with the the same non-results:

  • Resolutions of 100, 300, and 1200
  • Page sizes of letter and ledger
  • WiFi and USB connection

I uninstalled and reinstalled the device drivers (which required rebooting the computer), with no change. I also unplugged the device power and waited 15 minutes before plugging it in again, also with no change in this problem.

I'm running in Windows 7, 64 bit.

I had a chat with Brother tech support this morning and the agent did not find a solution and escalated the issue. I'm supposed to get a phone call within 24 hours, but I thought I'd reach out to others for possible insights.

I'm in the middle of a scanning project, so the machine has picked a bad time to malfunction. I hope someone can help.

  • Great question and answer. I had been following the question with no solutions to offer. When I saw your answer, it was "Of course!". I rolled back your title edit to fit the site's Q&A format (titles aren't changed to include the solution or "solved" like is often done on forums). Thanks for this posting. – fixer1234 Feb 2 '16 at 20:46
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I got the call from Brother Support. After I described the problem in detail, the agent asked a strange question: "Are you by any chance scanning currency?" All I could say was, "What? How did you know?"

The problem was anti-counterfeiting measures in the scanning software!

No, I'm not counterfeiting. I'm making images of my currency collection to show to dealers for sale.

With all the variations I tried during my troubleshooting (different resolutions, WiFi vs USB, sheet feed vs. flatbed, etc.), the one thing I didn't think to change was what I had sitting on the flatbed being scanned. It was three Euro notes. I had already scanned a bunch of old US, Canadian, and Mexican banknotes that were all made before anti-counterfeiting images started being used. But when I put those modern Euro notes in the scanner, the software choked on them. Rather than warning me to stop taking pictures of currency, the scanner just aborted the scan.

This means that it was incorrect when I said in my question that scanning working if the sheet feeder was used and did not work if I used the flatbed. Had I taken out the Euro notes and scanned anything else on the glass, the scans would have worked. Had I put the Euro notes in a plastic sheet holder and put that through the feeder, I presume the scans would have aborted just as they did with the Euros on the glass.

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I want to add a note about Brother Support. I bought my MFC new in 2009, six-and-a-half years ago. It is obviously looooooong out of warranty. Never did the chat agent or the escalated support agent who called me ask me for a serial number or date of purchase. They just talked about what the problem was and how to resolve it. This is AMAZING customer service.

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