Home Network Printer Sharing

Nowadays more homes have multiple computers connected to the home network.  It makes more sense to have a single printer and all the computers share the printer.  Windows allows the printer connected to one computer to be shared with other PCs. Drawback of this method is that you need to keep the compute with the printer turned on all the times.  In this section we will see how to connect the printer to the home network LAN without the printer being tied to a single computer.

 Commonly available home printers support following type of connections

  1. Printer with Ethernet/LAN Port
  2. Printer with Wireless
  3. Printer with USB port

In order to share the printer over the network, the printer must be connected to home network.

 

Connecting Printer with Ethernet or LAN Port

Printers with Local Area Network port are excellent choice for sharing over the home network. These type of printers are cheaper than printers with wireless ports. These printers are very easy to setup.The only drawback of this type of printer is that they can not be placed anywhere in the house. Printer needs to be close to an available Ethernet port.

To setup the printer, connect the Ethernet port of the printer to the one of the available LAN port of  your router or switch depending upon your home network configuration. The printer can receive IP address automatically from the available DHCP server or you can assign a static IP address. Once the printer has obtained its IP address its connected to your network.

Follow your printer manufactures installation instruction. In general your will have to install printer driver,software on each computer from where you want to enable network printing. The driver typically detects the availability of the printer on the network and configures itself.

Many network printers like following come with built in Scanner,Fax,Copy functionality. Some printers also have media slots. Scan/Fax copy functionality is enabled by installing manufacturer supplied software on PC. Media Slot of the following Brother printer can be access through FTP protocol.

Brother MFC-5460cn Color Photo Inkjet All-in-One Flatbed with Networking

 

 Connecting Wireless Printer

If your printer is equipped with 802.11 port then you can attach it your home network by simply connecting it to your main wireless router.  Follow printer manual instructions , to connect it to the wireless router. In general you need enter  your wireless SSID, security  key in the printer for it to be connected. After printer is connected it will receive an IP address from the DHCP server on your wireless router.

You will aslo need to install printer driver and manufacturer supplied software on each machines where your take your printouts.

Main advantage of wireless printer is you can keep it anywhere in the house as long you can good good wireless signal.

Wireless printers are more expensive than the printers with Ethernet or USB ports. Also if your wireless network is purely 802.11N and printer supports only 802.11B/G then you may have to run your wireless networking in mixed mode.

Brother MFC-490CW Color Inkjet Wireless All-in-One Printer

 

Conneting USB/Parallel Printer to Home Network

If your printer does not have either Ethernet or Wireless ports then your printer can not be connected to the network directly. You will need special hardware USB/Parallel printer server. Following is the examples of two types of print servers.

 Buffalo Network USB Print Server LPV3-U2 – Print server – Hi-Speed USB – EN, Fast EN – 10Base-T, 100Base-TX

Linksys PPSX1 EtherFast 10/100 1-Port PrintServer

 

To install follow the instructions on the user manual of your selected printer server. In general connect the LAN port to your home network and USB/Parallel port to your printer. Allow the print server to receive IP addres from your router. After that log into the printerserver using web interace and configure it for printing task. You may have to install the printer server driver/software on all the machines from where you want to enable network printing.

Some wireless Routers and Network Access Storage also contain built in Print Server. See section on Wireless Routers, the routers with built in printer server are highlighted.

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