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1st Published, Oct. 2006
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Printer Server - Printing through the Network
It is very productive to have a printer that can be connected directly to the Network (as oppose to a single computer), and can be used by any Networked computer regardless of the status of the other computers.
Best Solution, buy a Network ready printer. These printers have an additional Ethernet interface and they can be connected to any available switch on the Network. The special drivers come on a CD and has to be installed on all Network computers (During installation choose a Static IP so that the printer address would not change unexpectedly).
Alas you have already a printer and it is Not Network ready.
Most of the manufacturers of consumer Network devices offer Printer Servers
What to do?
Compute the expenses correctly, you might find out that it is better to buy a new Network ready printer.
All In One Printer/Scanner/Fax/Copy Devices
If you buy a new one, buy a Network ready All in One.
All in One unit that is Network Ready can be connected with a network cable to any port on the Network.
Most of them can be made Wireless too, by fitting it with a Driverless Wireless Client device that is used for game boxes.
The Big advantage of the Network ready AIO
All Networked computers can use all the functions of the AIO (Printing, Copying, Scanning, Faxing, etc.)
If the unit is a regular AIO unit (I.e. Not Network ready), you can use all the functions only when connected to one specific computer, and only by this computer.
If you share AIO unit that connected to the single computer, other Network computers would be able to share only the printer capacity of the AIO (I.e. No Scanning, Faxing Etc.)
You can fit an AIO with a 3rd party printer server card, as you do with a regular printer, only the printer part would be shared trough the Network and you would lose the capacities all together. I.e. no Scanning etc. from any computer.
There are 3rd party devices
Software/Hardware that can turn a regular AIO unit to be Network capable
with all of its features,
however these devices are more expensive (about $150) than buying a New inexpensive Network
ready AIO unit.
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