GEEK: Hibernating machines gives true power-off

Q: After scanning a document in pdf, the product will not save in the designated file – the error message (no number) is “unable to write to file.” It will write to a file in an external hard drive, so I save it there, copy it, and paste in the desired computer hard drive file (Documents directory). However, I can write a document in MS Word and save it as a pdf file with no problem. I have talked at length with the scanner’s tech rep (Epson – which will unbelievably talk with me even though the warranty period has long since expired) and they can’t figure out what’s going on. I have downloaded the current Epson driver for the scanner, but to no avail.

Two ancillary questions: When the computer is in “sleep” mode, is it absolutely disconnected from the Internet? And, will removing files already on a new thumb drive impede its operation?

– Doug B.

Niceville, Florida

A: After reading your question (several times) I think I understand that you’re trying to perform a scan and save the scanned image as an Adobe Acrobat PDF file, but in the process are getting an error. I think you’re concentrating a little too much on the fact that the resulting file would be a PDF, as evidenced by your experiments with creating PDF documents in Word. My first thought upon seeing your error was either file permissions (the process trying to write the file does not have the required permission to do so) or file contention (the file is already open for exclusive access by another process, and a second process tries to write to it and fails). These conditions can happen with any type of file – not just PDFs, and I found myself wondering whether your scanner software supports output to anything else, and whether you’ve tested to see if it fails on all file types or just PDF. The fact that you’re able to write the file to another location (your external hard drive) is good. It means at least the scanner software works and is capable of creating the desired file. You can tinker with the system and try to determine whether either of the two conditions I mentioned above are present, or you can do what I just did, and Google it. I quickly found plenty of discussion on the web about this problem. In fact, I found a potential solution on one of Epson’s own websites, so I’m wondering why the person you spoke to at Epson didn’t do a better job at helping you. So check out the page at It says that the problem occurs because the location where the EPSON Scan software is storing temporary files doesn’t have enough contiguous space available to be used as the software’s work area. It also has detailed procedures about how to resolve that problem.

Here are my ancillary answers for your ancillary questions:

A sleeping system is one that has been placed in a low-power state. It is not off, and many of its functions continue, although many of its devices – often including the network hardware – are powered off, and so rendered non-functional until the computer is brought out of sleep mode. Many computers support a “wake on lan” function which allows them to be brought out of sleep mode when certain signals are received on the network connection. In my opinion, that doesn’t technically qualify as being “connected to the Internet” however, it might as well be. If the potential is there to bring it out of sleep, which would in turn bring it fully online, and from there it automatically connects to the Internet, you tell me whether that computer is “absolutely disconnected” when in sleep mode. If you’re that worried, hibernate your machine instead of using sleep. That is a true power-off condition.

There is no universal software that’s installed on all thumb drives, so there is no absolute, universal answer that will apply to all of them. Without citing a specific brand and model, I would have no way of knowing exactly what software comes loaded on a given device. However, I can say that the likelihood of that software being “required” to operate the drive is quite slim. More likely, it’s some type of software that allows you to manage backups to the drive, or perhaps even advertising for the manufacturer’s other products. In rare cases it may contain drivers or other software necessary for the drive to work on older, or non-Windows computers. In still rarer cases of specialty, secure drives, the software may actually be required to unencrypt the drive’s contents using a password, but you’d probably know it if that was the case with a drive you own. My advice is to look before you leap, and don’t simply delete anything without doing a little checking to see what it is. Back it up to another drive if that makes you feel better.

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