As small home and office networks have become more popular in recent years, the need for sharing devices, such as printers or scanners, have increased. Thankfully, a printer can easily be shared across a wired or wireless network so many computers can have access to it. This article will explain what a print server is and how to easily set one up.
A print server can be found in two different varieties. One type is used for connecting a parallel printer and the other is for a USB based printer and they function in identical fashions. The parallel printer is the older style that uses a 25-pin cable to connect to a computer. These are becoming less and less common over the years. The much more common printer connection is the USB version. Be sure to know what printer type you have before purchasing a print server.
Thankfully, there are print servers available for either style of printer, parallel or USB. The setup process is virtually the same for both. Essentially, you connect the printer to the print server and in turn, the print server to your existing network. Let’s start with the wired network followed by the wireless network.
Adding a printer to a wired network is very easy. Begin by connecting a cable between your printer and your computer. This step ensures that the printer is recognized by your computer and can save troubleshooting time later. Once you know the printer is functioning properly, connect the printer to the print server and power it on. You might be prompted to come up with a name for your printer that others can see on the network. For example, you can give it the name “Tom’s Printer” to distinguish it from other printers that might be shared over the network. In order for other computers to access the printer, they will need to know the name of it.
Using a wireless print server is almost identical to the wired version with the added step of putting in the wireless network name and password. Once you attach the printer to the wireless print server, the software will ask for your wireless network name (or you can search for it and it should find it rather easily). When you try to join the network, you will be asked for a password (assuming you have one for your wireless network). Once entered, the printer should be available for everyone on the wireless network!
Being able to share a printer over a network so many people can use it really adds to the printer’s value. This is especially true if many computers on your network have different operating systems and you are trying to share the printer through the operating system’s settings.