Working in an office environment with more than one computer requires having the ability to share a printer over a network. Otherwise, the office will have to incur the expensive cost of individual printers. Space and money is saved when one printer is shared over a network. The size of your office has different context for how a network printer is setup to perform. Deciding to share a printer over a network also requires deciding which features are appropriate for the needs of the office. Virtually any printer can be shared over a network once it is connected to a print server or to a computer that tells the operating system to share the printer.
The network printers on the market today have a built-in network interface card (NIC) that has an Ethernet connection. With that being said, the printer should also be compatible with your operation system. Some network printers also have built-in web pages which allow you to change settings and check the printer status through a browser. This is beneficial for companies that have the IT support staff in a different area from where the computer is located.
There are essential tips to follow for networking printers. Buying the right printer to integrate with your office environment is the difference between frustration and ease with printing.
- If you work in a home office environment, it might not be necessary to use a network printer. Connecting through Windows to computer sharing could be sufficient.
- If you are in an environment other than a home office, make sure the printer has the right networking interface. Choices beyond an Ethernet connection exist.
- Use a fully automated network setup, unless you have a thorough understanding of the process for network printer setup. Manual network printer setup will require assigning an IP address and creating a new port, among other things.
- Select a system that allows you to check the printer status and make changes to the settings from built-in web pages. You or IT personnel can check the printer information from a work desk. This is easier than scrolling through menus on the printer, even if the printer is located next to your workstation or office.
- Some departments handle sensitive information that is not for general viewing. Buy a network printer with a private printing feature. You can send documents to the printer that will not print without entering a PIN code.
- If your office relies on duplex printing, streamline this process with a network printer that includes a duplexer. Manual duplexing of printing on one side and reinserting the pages to print on the opposite side is cumbersome, not to mention the possibility of being interrupted by someone else’s print job.
- Select a network printer with input trays that hold adequate amounts of paper. The goal of having a network printer is to work smarter. Constantly loading paper can affect productivity, if only in a small way.
- Nearly every office has an accumulation of print jobs. Therefore, select an output tray that can accommodate typical print jobs that could remain at the printer for a few hours or days.
- Remote management software works best in a medium to large office environment with dozen or more network printers connected throughout the office building. The right program will save time and effort when upgrading drivers and firmware at one time, eliminating the need to visit each printer individually for the upgrades. You can create groups based on departments or printer type.
- There are plenty of other options that come with network printers to consider such as advanced paper handling. Stacker and sorter options might not be an immediate need, but could be needed at a later date. Investing in these options upfront will prevent the added expense of buying a new network printer in the future.
Avoid the trap of thinking in terms of limiting printers to a set number of computers. Instead, consider the volume of printing that each work area produces each day. Efficiency is an important consideration. The type of printer and its proximity to employees will have the greater impact on productivity. Additionally, look for network printer options that can send alerts to employees about paper jams or low toner.
Look for the option to download a trial program of the remote management features if this is something your office will use. You can also check the features against the software with the printer you want to purchase. This will prevent purchasing a network printer that does not help your office environment.
Buying and setting up a network printer is not as complicated as it appears when the right selection is made. The many options and terminology are tools that you can use to determine the right printer or printers for your office.