Direct printing is simple. Hit print and the print job gets sent directly to the printer without the need of a print server. Its simplicity is its strength in small work environments – with few users and even fewer print devices – where a print server is not a justifiable expense. Since a print device’s purpose is so simple, it requires relatively little computing power.
Contrastingly, a print server can help make print management easier in work environments with several users, large device fleets, and multiple office locations.
What is a print server?
A print server is a dedicated appliance or point of software that accepts print jobs and forwards them to the appropriate device. They serve as an intermediary between computer and print devices. The main reason for print servers is to have a central driver management experience and to configure queues and printer settings on one machine which will be distributed to all clients.
How does a print server work?
A print server is recommended to host any medium to large businesses print management solution needs. Such print servers operate in the background of a print environment network and by silently sending jobs from the client to the printers. They mostly focus on managing the print queue, as well as deploying print drivers to client machines.
The flow occurs as follows: “The user presses print. The print server receives the request. The server then directs the print job to a printer. This places the job in a queue. When the job reaches the top of the queue, the printer prints the document.” Kieron Byatt, Tech Journalist for PaperCut MF
Pros and Cons to print servers
Pros: 1) Dedicated powerful processors – Having one device that solely manages your print infrastructure is a great way to ensure powerful print speeds and high availability for your workplace.
2) Permissions impossible – Print servers handle the complexity of your business easily and securely. Permissions, policies, new users, settings, hipaa compliance, secure release; your unique print environment needs can be handled efficiently and effectively by a dedicated print server.
3) Centralized Management for your print infrastructure – With a print server, print management becomes centralized to an administration console. The print server allows you to monitor your entire fleet, and consolidates queue management so that sysadmins can view and manage all pending print jobs when needed.
Cons: 1) Expertise Required – Dedicated print servers require dedicated handlers. Teams of IT professionals need to routinely maintain, update, and service a print server for it to perform as intended. As such, print servers are best suited for workplaces with sysadmins on staff.
2) Single point of failure – Since print servers are such a powerful funnel for print jobs, a serious malfunction could compromise your entire print environment. If the server goes down, so does your workplaces print capabilities.
Is a print server right for you?
For most modern work environments, print management is needed to successfully operate your print fleet to its fullest potential. As such, print servers can now be either hardware or a cloud service. Such “serverless” print management solutions are now available in lieu of physical print servers. The kind of print management solution your business needs depends on your printing demands. In complex environments with dozens of devices, compliance demands, and high availability requirements – a print server would be the ideal solution.
Alternatively, if you’re a smaller business with few devices and limited print needs – a serverless solution in the cloud could be a more suitable option.