Network printing (Printer Sharing)

Printers have traditionally been attached directly to stand-alone workstations. The path followed by data as it is printed is a straight one: The application running on the workstation sends data to a communications port; from there, the data travels directly to a printer that then processes the data. As you might expect, networked printing is more complex. This is especially true in a client-server environment. The data must go from the application on the workstation, through the workstation’s network interface to a server. From there it finds its way to one of an arbitrary number of printers, possibly a considerable time from when it was “printed” by the user and possibly following one of several viable paths. The printer will then process the data as if the printer had been directly attached to the workstation.
Benefits of Network Printing
Networked printing has some disadvantages. Users may not be willing to walk to a collection point that is any farther away than the end of their desk. They also may not trust the network to look after their printing needs–the rattle and hum of rollers and paper trays can be reassuring to many. Also, from the network manager’s point of view, networking a printer is obviously more difficult than simply plugging a printer into the back of a PC. You and your users need to decide before you start whether it’s worth the effort. In fact, there are several compelling reasons why
printing and networking go hand-in-hand. These include the following:
• Shared printers
• More access points
• Print spooling
• Central management
• Access control
• Flexibility