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

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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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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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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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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.
wyliecoyoteukIT director
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