Epson Shcam.
October 27, 2011 12:56 PM   Subscribe

Is there a way to run an annoying program (Epson Scan in this instance) so that it doesn't obliterate your desktop? Any way to force it to use less processing power?

I don't have a lot of hope but:

I use Epson's scanning utility Epson Scan a lot. It uses a number of separate windows, but once you commit to scanning, all those windows get locked in place and are immovable. You can right click to "show desktop" but otherwise the windows just hang out there, in the way of your desktop, other programs, etc.

I'm there any sort of a way to run it in a shell or wrapper so that it could be minimized entirely to the taskbar?

In addition, it seems to hog a ton of processor. The computer slows down considerably while its running. I'm doing fairly large scans (they end up being about .75 gigs per scan) on a computer with 4gb of ram. I just bought an SSD drive for my system drive. But it slows to a lurch while scanning these files.

Is there anyway to throttle how much power this program uses? I don't mind if it runs slower, it's just that I'm oftentimes doing something else while it's scanning. I've had another computer scanning at times but that's impractical for a couple of reasons here.

I'm using a Core 2 Quad chip. If it's worth anything, the scans are going to a separate 1TB drive.

Short question:
1) I have a program that hogs the desktop. Is there a way to isolate it and make it controllable?
2) This same program slows my computer considerably at times. Can I throttle how much power it uses?

Here's a picture of the beast.
posted by sully75 to Computers & Internet (19 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Best answer: I have a program that hogs the desktop. Is there a way to isolate it and make it controllable?

You could use a virtual desktop program like VirtuaWin to isolate it to its own virtual desktop. Once you set it up, you could do something like press CTRL+ALT+E to switch to the empty Epson Scan desktop, start Epson Scan, then press CTRL+ALT+D to get back to your real desktop.
posted by burnmp3s at 1:04 PM on October 27, 2011

Sadly, the type of software that comes with hardware is generally quite bad. You can't really make crappy software run better.

There is third party scanning software, but I have no experience with it: VueScan is one, for example.
posted by Harry at 1:05 PM on October 27, 2011

I was coming in to suggest VueScan as an alternative. It can't be any worse than EpsonScan, and is probably much better.
posted by Thorzdad at 1:07 PM on October 27, 2011

Best answer: You can reduce the priority of the running program to give the rest of the system a better crack at CPU resources. Open Task Manager (right-click on the taskbar, use the CTRL-ALT-DEL menu or find it in Accessories -> System Tools in the Start Menu), then select Epson Scan in the list that appears, right-click, choose Go to Process, then right-click on the highlighted process and choose a lower priority from the menu. As you have a multi-core computer, you could also try changing the affinity of the process in the same menu so it uses just one or two cores.

As you are transferring large amounts of data, this may have little effect. In addition, I've seen some computer systems stutter when large amounts of data is being pushed over USB (I assume your scanner is a USB device). Try plugging the scanner into a different USB port.
posted by NordyneDefenceDynamics at 1:15 PM on October 27, 2011

Response by poster: Thanks for the suggestions. I should have mentioned that I've tried the alternatives and haven't really liked them. I should try them again though.
posted by sully75 at 1:17 PM on October 27, 2011

If you can find someone with a VMWare license, that person could create a Windows VM with Epson Scan installed on it. VMWare Player is free, so you'd be able to run it without paying for VMWare. I run all my annoying software in VMs.

Your machine sounds plenty powerful, it just needs a way to sandbox the badly behaved software. You might even be able to boot Linux and run Epson Scan with Wine, but that seems possibly extreme... (it would probably work though and is an entirely free stack)
posted by TeatimeGrommit at 1:26 PM on October 27, 2011

I don't have an Epson, but I had the exact same issue. Here is what I did to get around it.

I do a lot of scanning for my job. Low level stuff so I don't need a super-duper scanner, just something that does 300dpi and mostly for text and OCR. With my Lexmark scanner, I had the same issues with the bloatware that came with the scanner. Memory hog, too many options, slow and cluttered the desktop.

So I played around with it and found there was one core app in the Lexmark Application folder, quite small, that did the actual scanning work. What I had been dealing with before was some sort of console that controlled other functions and apps that I don't use. All I wanted was to scan, save and process in a completely different program, not the Lexmark supplied stuff.

So now I simply launch that mini app and voila! Fast, small and no clutter. And in a way, it is little nicer than trying to acquire images through another app like Photoshop or Acrobat because all I want to do is scan and save. The other stuff comes later. And scanning and saving is all this little Lexmark app does.

Maybe Epson is put together the same way - a few small apps with a console that controls all of it? Go to the installed Epson folder and look at the apps and test it out.

Just a thought.
posted by lampshade at 1:29 PM on October 27, 2011

Response by poster: I think NordyneDefenceDynamics has the processing power part right. I had the scanner plugged into a cheapo USB PCI card. I put it into one of the motherboard USB ports and it seems to be working better.
posted by sully75 at 1:44 PM on October 27, 2011

Applying digital ICE and unsharp mask filters can increase CPU load. Really any of the options at the bottom of the main dialog. Vuescan is cool if you scan a lot of negatives and want to use its film profiling feature, but I prefer the relative simplicity of the Epson software.
posted by Lorin at 1:55 PM on October 27, 2011

Response by poster: Scanning B&W negatives so not using ICE or USM. But they are 5x7 at 3200 dpi so they end up being pretty large.
posted by sully75 at 1:55 PM on October 27, 2011

Are you using the latest version of Epson Scan? It gets updated periodically. I use Epson Scan (on an Epson 3170 scanner). and I don't recall seeing this problem. But I do most of my negative scanning in Vuescan.
posted by DarkForest at 2:01 PM on October 27, 2011

Response by poster: Yeah, I just downloaded it from the site. I think it's the size of the negatives (5x7), the files end up being 3/4 of a gig when they come off the scanner.
posted by sully75 at 2:12 PM on October 27, 2011

I'm trying a scan now. Those windows can't be moved during a scan because they're modal dialogs. Only the "Progress" window can be moved during a scan. But I'm having no problem putting my browser window over them. I'm only showing 3% CPU used during the scan.
posted by DarkForest at 2:16 PM on October 27, 2011

Response by poster: I know they are not always on top, but they don't minimize to the toolbar. I end up using my desktop a lot and it's pretty annoying to have them sitting there for 20 minutes while the scan is happening.

How is Epson Scan showing up in your Processes list? I can't find it.
posted by sully75 at 2:26 PM on October 27, 2011

Unless you have checked the Task Manager and have data otherwise, I would guess that it's not the CPU use that's making your machine unresponsive but the IO - getting things over USB and onto the disk. Putting this in a VM or whatever isn't going to help with that.

Is your "separate 1TB drive" also USB? If it is, try scanning to an internal hard disk, and see if that performs any differently.

Also I'd make sure I had the latest version of all the drivers for my motherboard.
posted by aubilenon at 2:28 PM on October 27, 2011

I couldn't find it in the process list either, though I assume there's some way to find it. I was looking at the total CPU usage monitor.
posted by DarkForest at 2:29 PM on October 27, 2011

Upgrade to Win7 Professional and install VirtualPC and XP Mode. Epson Scan will probably work in XP. It can go ahead and hog what it thinks is the whole deskspace, but it'll actually behogging the VirtualPC window, which acts just like any other window in Win7 itself.

I've been using VirtualPC and XP Mode to run troublesome programs, and it works great.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 3:14 PM on October 27, 2011

Also, regarding the "use less CPU power": applications in XP mode think they're running on a single CPU and even if they go hugely CPU bound, they won't use more than about 1.5 of your four cores. (One core runs the application. Another core spends about half its time doing all the virtualization.)
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 3:19 PM on October 27, 2011

To get around modal windows, windows+d is a key combination you can use to show the desktop. If the window really gets in the way there are freeware programs that can hide applications with a hotkey.
posted by samsara at 3:59 AM on October 28, 2011

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