A print server is a small device that allows you to connect multiple computers to a single printer or MFP. You can find this solution in those offices that do not have a computer that is always on and connected to the desired printing device (and thus acts as a separate print server). In general, it provides access to a printer from all authorized PCs on the local network – so that all employees can print the documents they need whenever they want.
Choosing the right printer-server for your specific conditions is not that simple – it is a complicated device with many parameters which are not apparent at first sight.
In the next section of this article, we will review all the essential technical characteristics of print servers that you should pay attention to when purchasing them.
The main features of print servers that you should pay attention to:
Print servers can be wired or wireless.
Wired models are cheaper but connect to the local network only with wires. It may prevent them from being conveniently located indoors, but you shouldn’t have a problem if your office has enough Ethernet outlets.
Wireless print servers are a bit more expensive, but they are free of wires. You can place this model almost anywhere – it will most likely connect to your local WiFi network without any problems.
Even the old 802.11 b/g standard is not too crucial for printing documents (even large and colorful ones). However, if you have them in your organization, you may need to support older standards such as 802.3 and 802.3u to be compatible with some older devices.
If you choose a wireless print server, you may question the type of antenna. It is best to select a model with an external antenna hidden inside the case and provide excellent signal reception and transmission. But if you located a print server where the WiFi signal level is high enough, you can do without it.
Here it is necessary to consider the size of your office and the place where you are supposed to locate the print server. It all depends on the size of the organization and the number of employees (and therefore rooms with them) that will connect to the printer. It is also worth considering the thickness and number of walls between the print server and the router – manufacturers usually specify the range without obstacles in the signal path.
Wired network standard
The main thing is to ensure that the wired print server you choose supports the 10/100BASE-TX standard, and it is enough to work smoothly on any local network.
Ports for connecting wired printers
Some print servers support connecting multiple printers or MFPs at once. If you need this capability (you have several printing devices for different purposes in your office), choose a model with two or more USB ports.
Also, pay attention to the presence of the old LPT-type port. It helps use an old printer that you cannot connect to your computer or printer server with a USB wire.
By the way, if there is such an opportunity, before buying, go to the site of the print-server manufacturer and make sure that the selected model supports work with your printer or MFP. It is not obligatory, but this way, you will be sure that the two devices are fully compatible.
Assigning an IP address
It is up to the abilities and wishes of your system administrator, who serves the local network. The best option, which will work for almost anyone, is automatically assigning an IP address using DHCP.
Management and Diagnostics
The most convenient ways to manage and diagnose the system are via a Web interface and a separate Windows utility. Usually, even the most advanced users can do the initial configuration.
Network administration professionals can resort to more flexible and quicker but more complex methods like Telnet.
To choose the correct print server, we recommend checking our list of the best print servers.
The proud owner and lead writer of OFFICE-EQUIP.COM
Office equipment seller since 2011. Started writing in 2018 and sharing his experience and knowledge with love and respect.