Connecting Printers to Your Network in Four Ways or Less


Sharing a printer or a number of printers allows you to get the most use out of your equipment while providing increased printing capabilities to users. Basically there are four ways that you can connect a printer to a network. The one you choose will depend on your printer(s), location requirements, how much reliability you demand, and your LAN’s network protocols.

  1. Connecting your printer to a file server is the easiest way to put it on your network. If you use a parallel cable, your printer will need to be located within 15 feet of the server. And the number of printers you can connect to the file server will be limited to three, as you use up IRQs and I/Os for the parallel ports used.
  2. A second option is dedicating a stand-alone PC as a print server. Again, you’ll have to locate your printer(s) within 15 feet of the PC, and you’ll be limited to three parallel printer hookups. Having another port on the hub will expand the complexity of your network.
  3. Perhaps the best way to connect a printer to your network printer that has an internal network adapter designed to work with a variety of printer emulations and protocols. Of course, such printers are expensive, if you don’t already have one, and their network adapters can be a serious challenge to set up.
  4. Finally, you can opt for a standalone print-server box. These small, inexpensive boxes have both serial and parallel ports that printers can connect to. Although the printer(s) you connect must be located near the box, you can install one box, or a number of boxes, anywhere on the LAN, with a limited number of printers connecting to each one. Print-server boxes typically work with nearly any network protocol.

Whatever method or methods you choose for connecting your printer(s) to your network, remember that the more difficult it will be to solve network printing problems when they occur.