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Windows Print Servers vs. HP JetDirect -- Best Methods? Alternatives?

Posted on 2006-06-15
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Last Modified: 2008-01-09
So far as I am aware, I have only three options for sharing printers in my small office / workgroup. (1) I can make a computer act as a print server (which would then send spooled jobs through the HP JetDirect tcp/ip card in the printer, or (2) I can let everyone print to the printer directly through the HP JetDirect card (3) or I can buy a print server box of some sort. As near as I can tell, the advantage to the first method is that it makes it child's play to install the printer on any workstation (just browse to \\server\printername and, Voila!, the printer is installed). You would have to install the print drivers the old fashioned way on workstations if you use either of the other methods.

I have used the first method for years, but since we bought an HP Laserjet 4200tn lately, it seems like print jobs sit in the spooler for a long time. That is, my workstation will show the job has been printed/sent, but the printer does not even show traffic coming its way. When I look on the print queue on the server, it will say something like "opening," which I guess means that the print server/spooler is waking up or something.

Q. -- Is there a better way to manage my printers than what I am doing?

Q. -- Why would a two page print job from Word take 60-90 seconds to get from my workstation to the server to the printer?   What's wrong with this picture?
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Question by:GrayStrickland
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hdhondt earned 425 total points
ID: 16916521
Try changing the TCP/IP port for the printer (on the server) from Raw to LPR. Go to printer Properties > Ports, click on Configure Port, click the LPR button, and under Queue name type "raw"

That change has fixed similar problems for me on several occasions
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by:Yorkie0362
Yorkie0362 earned 25 total points
ID: 16921217
I definatley prefer using a windows box as a print server, because as you said you can share the drivers from them.  I would also definatley try HDHONDT's tip as this should improve throughput.

Just a quick question though, if you print a document from the "master" computer eg. the print server directly to the printer, is it still slow ?
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by:foochar
ID: 16921857
Another thought is that if the computer that is acting as a print server is also doing other things (file serving, office applications, etc.) the load from those other things will have an effect on print times etc.
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Author Comment

by:GrayStrickland
ID: 16923600
Hdhondt:

You write, "Try changing the TCP/IP port for the printer (on the server) from Raw to LPR."

Then you write, "...under Queue name type "raw"

I'm confused. This seems contradictory.
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Expert Comment

by:hdhondt
ID: 16929145
Look in the port configuration window, and somewhat below the "raw" and "lpr" buttons, under "LPR Settings", you'll see an entry for Queue Name. That's where you enter "raw".

Note that the 2 occurrences of "raw" have nothing to do with each other. LPR and RAW specify the protocol and the TCP/IP port used to send data to the printer. The queue name "raw" is device dependent. Why HP decided to use raw as (one of the valid) queue name I can't tell you. However, with other suppliers the queue name is usually different, for example PCL or PS to indicate the printer language used.

The benefits of using a PC as a server include the ability to install drivers from the server, as Yorkie0362 explained, and the additional control the administrator has over who can print, who can change printer settings, etc. However, I feel you should use a proper server, not just a PC. You don't want to rely on a PC being turned on, just so that other users can print.

Going direct to the printer gives each user more control. If that is important to you, then that is the better way. Using a printserver box serves no real purpose if your printer already has a network card installed.
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Assisted Solution

by:wyliecoyoteuk
wyliecoyoteuk earned 50 total points
ID: 16930866
As hdhondt says, print server boxes are unecessary, plus in my experience, they are usually unreliable and easily swamped on even a small network.Also, many printers will not work with them.
Your problem may be more to do with spooler settings.
On the server, make sure that the spooler is on a disk with plenty of space.(by default it is on the C: drive)
Also make sure that spooling in the print driver >advanced tab  is set to "start printing after the last page has spooled" This may sound odd, but it ensures  that the transmission time is reduced, as the server receives the whole file before sending it, which means that the printer is not having to wait for the workstation to spool it.
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