Many of the most popular modern printers come with quick Wi-Fi-enabled features that allow them to be used wireless. On the other hand, when you have a legacy printer in the home or office, it can be much less convenient to run the appropriate wires to the machine, especially if you have multiple computers.
So, how can you make these old dogs learn new tricks? Utilize a print server to make your print jobs wireless, even when using one of these older machines.
How Does a Print Server Work?
Well, internet-enabled printers are still relatively new, and there was a time not long ago when you needed a wired connection to print from your desktop. Print servers utilize local home and work networks to deliver the print jobs to your machine. The print server itself connects manually to the printer, but the other “end” is entirely wireless and receives the print jobs as data from your PC.
As a result, you can have an office worth’s of computers all printing from the same machine. These devices tend to use either a wired internet connection, Wi-Fi, or Bluetooth to communicate with the computers, and many work instantaneously. A printer server is typically tiny when it comes to sizing since it’s doing a fairly simple job, but it’s used to your office can be fairly substantial.
What are the other essential features to consider?
Not every computer on the network has access to the Wi-Fi or Bluetooth of the home/office. For this reason, it’s a good idea to purchase a print server that has USB support. These products usually come with a key drive-sized USB dongle that attaches to your computer via a standard USB port. Once connected, the dongle will allow quick, two-way communication between the computer and the print server.
Some of the best products will have auto-sensing, allowing you to start printing from your computer without installing any software automatically.
The latest craze in the world of office printing is the All-in-One Printer. These devices allow you to print, scan, fax, and copy with relative ease, but if you don’t have one of these, a print server can provide similar convenience. This is done by supporting multiple devices that have varying functionalities, so instead of just being able to hook wirelessly up to a printer, you’ll also be able to hook up to scanners, fax, machines, and copiers via your print server.
A Small Physical Footprint
When you’re working from a home or office, the last thing that you may want is to have a lot of clutter, which is why many of the modern print servers on the market are designed with a small physical footprint. These are designed to fit neatly in areas where they would be very unnoticeable; in fact, there are currently products on the market that aren’t much larger than smartphones. This svelte sizing can make a device like this fairly unnoticeable in most offices, making them very useful.
One of the primary functions of a good print server is making older printers usable in a modern office environment. For this reason, the device will need to be versatile enough to handle legacy devices. This means that the server should have physical connections connected to parallel printer ports and USB jacks on printers that aren’t Wi-Fi- or Bluetooth-ready. The last thing you want is to purchase a product that won’t plug into your devices.
With a device that supports internet printing, not only will you be able to print locally, but you’ll also be ready to start print jobs when you’re working from remote locations. Usually, this is done by the Line Printer Remote (LPR) protocol. This is very useful for bringing an older printer into the internet age and makes it very easy for those who need to print things out for later pick-up at the office.
Internal or External?
When you’re on the market for one of these products, it’ll present you with a choice: should you select internal or external print servers? Internal print servers install into a port on the back of your PC and hook directly into the motherboard of your PC. The advantage of one of these is that they are completely unnoticeable, and the print server can run on one of your standard business computers. Having said that, to run the print server, you’re going to need to have the computer on at all times.
On the other hand, an external device is easy to set up and requires next to no hardware installation, so you’ll be able to get up and run quicker. That said, people can also knock over these products in a busy office to become damaged in some situations. Which product you pick will depend on your home or office needs, but both can still really streamline the efficiency of your printing process.
In this guide, we’re going to show you seven of the best print servers on the market, which will help you streamline your print jobs.
Best Print Servers Of 2021
1. TP-LINK TL-PS110U Print Server – Best USB Print Server
Our first print server is a USB-compatible server with a single USB port for connection to a single printer. This port utilizes USB 2.0 technology, so it’s capable of reasonably fast communication between the device and the target printer. You’ll find several indicator lights on the body of the server that will tell you if the USB connection is active and whether the server’s status has changed.
- Assigning an IP address (static or dynamic) to the print server
- Setting a password to change the configuration.
- Remote reboot
- Possibility to control via WEB-interface as well as with the special utility
- Support for NetWare and AppleTalk protocols
- SNMP v1 and v2c support
- SNMP trap support (sending SNMP notifications about the printer server status to the specified IP address)
- Samba protocol support (printer sharing for Microsoft Windows networks)
Overall, the TP-LINK TL-PS110U print server has a good functionality level for those with USB-connected printers. It is compact, has indicator lights so that you know it’s working, and is very easy to set up. The addition of IPP also adds a lot of functionality and convenience.
2. HP JetDirect 620n Print Server – Best Internal Print Server for HP Printers
This print server stands out from some of the others in this guide because it’s explicitly designed to work as an internal print server. This means that you can install it directly into any compatible HP device, which any printer uses the EIO slot that many HP devices use. As a result, you’ll be able to seamlessly convert machines that only use parallel connections to more modern formats.
Unfortunately, this product only supports HP printers, so you won’t install it if you have a device from any other manufacturer. Additionally, you cannot access this print server wirelessly; it’s explicitly designed to hardwire non-internet-enabled printers to a pre-existing network, so you’ll need a cable.
If you have an HP product, this is a good print server to consider for your daily printing needs; it does so by hardwiring the printer to be accessible through a wired connection. Overall, the product delivers quick and secure network functionality.
3. D-Link DP-300U Print Server – Best Multi-Port Print Server
D-Link is known for its top-tier Ethernet and network connection hardware. The DP-300U is an excellent example of the company bringing its network expertise into the world of printing. The DP-300U is a reasonably stable box that works to connect to legacy parallel port printers. These have fallen out of steady use, so if you have one of these printers, it’ll bring your print jobs to the modern era. In addition to the two parallel ports, it also has a single USB port for printers that use that technology.
There is no factory reset button, so if you need to change the settings, you’ll need to download software from D-Link, which can be a significant hassle. This is because you’ll have to know the previous IP address information from any previous settings, and if you find this product used, this can be not easy.
For the cost of this product, you’ll be amazed at how well it performs in just about any home or office printing environment. This is also an excellent product to consider if you need a quick and easy configuration process.
4. NETGEAR Universal N300 – WiFi Adapter for Adding a Wireless Function to a Printer
The next product in this guide isn’t exclusively for printers; in fact, it’s a device specifically designed to bring non-Wi-Fi-enabled products into the world of wireless. As a result, your wired internet-ready printer will behave like it’s hardwired to the internet without the need for extra cables. The product has a crisp transmission speed of 300 megabits per second, and it has a reasonably broad range so that you can connect to your Wi-Fi from anywhere in the home or office. This device even has a WPS security setting that protects your devices from intrusion.
For some reason, this product doesn’t find or connect to Wi-Fi signals that aren’t broadcasting an SSID, making it useless for some setups. Additionally, the WPS doesn’t always work or is very difficult to set up. Finally, thanks to a reasonably tricky setup process, it isn’t easy to provide a DHCP assignment to this server – at least without configuring it through a router.
This product can work well to bring your legacy internet-enabled printers into the wireless age, but if you have a product that doesn’t connect to the internet with a wired connection, then it might not be the product for you.
5. StarTech PM1115P2 Centronics Parallel Port Print Server – Best Centronics Print Server
There’s no need for an older printer to go to waste. A product like this print server from StarTech is explicitly designed to connect legacy parallel port printers to a home or office network with relative ease. This is a wired option so that you won’t connect via Wi-Fi, but the connection does provide a 10/100 Mbps transfer rate that will guarantee quick prints.
This product has no support for USB printers, so if you want to add one to your Ethernet server, you’re going to have to purchase another product. The documentation for the product is also relatively weak, so it will take a bit of trial and error to figure out the device’s functionality. The device also doesn’t seem to support Windows 10.
One of the standout features of this print server is its web-based management tools. With them, you can actively monitor your print server’s functionality and get an idea about what’s being printed at any given time. With this software, you’ll even be able to queue up print jobs remotely, which is useful when you’re out and about. Additionally, managing multiple printers on a network is also fairly easy with the Bonjour Print Service supported by the device.
This device will help you save by adding a bit of utility to older, legacy printers so that it can have a lot of value for some home or business owners. While it doesn’t have wireless capability, it makes it easy to connect remotely to your machines using a parallel port.
6. NETGEAR PS101 Mini Print Server – Best Parallel Port Print Server
This Netgear PS101 stands out because it has onboard memory. The onboard memory can really help a print server because it will air in keeping the print jobs that come through the device organized. This will help the device speed up the printing process significantly. It also provides crisp data transfers of 10 Mbps, which are delivered via a wired connection. Since it has a built-in parallel port, you can hook it up directly to your printer, and it will work just like a wired connection.
Unfortunately, this product isn’t compatible with the most modern Microsoft OS, Windows 10. It’s designed for Vista, but it will support Windows 7 and 8. Additionally, sometimes the product will become unresponsive when queuing print jobs, which means you’ll have to resubmit the print request. Finally, powering the product down can cause it to reset to factory defaults.
This product is tiny and fits unobtrusively behind your printer, which means that it won’t be noticeable and won’t get in the way very easily. It’s also reasonably easy to install on several Microsoft and Apple operating systems.
If you need a compact print server that can handle several print jobs simultaneously, this Netgear device might be worth the purchase.
7. IOGEAR GPSU21 Print Server – Print Server with USB 3.0 Support
This IOGEAR product is a USB-connectable device that is compact and easy to set up. A standard AC power connector powers it, and it uses the 2.0 version of USB to connect to printers with this sort of connection. As a result, you can get some good speeds with this product, so print jobs should come quickly. Additionally, this wired print server also allows for remote printing, printing from any computer on the network. It has auto-sensing technology that will make the printer appear seamlessly on the system.
While the product does have USB 2.0, it doesn’t have any parallel port support. Also, USB 3.0 is available, which could provide faster printing than what this device is capable of. This server also connects to PCs running Windows 8.1 and before, so Windows 10 is unable to recognize the peripheral.
This is very easy to set up a product that should be easily findable on just any computer network. It also supports DHCP, which grants a high level of security for the product. Also, the product should work fine on most Mac products.
With a fast USB connector and a good network speed, this product is an excellent option for anyone with a USB-connectable printer.
A good print server can save an older printer from the trash bin, saving you a bit of cash. Each of the products that have been selected in this guide provides the ability to keep your workhorse printers working for years more. Even with the advent of the all-in-one, there’s still a lot of value in a dedicated print server, and who knows how the technology will evolve in the next few years.