Getting 55 printers on the network using print server instead of PC

Posted on 2012-08-14
Last Modified: 2012-08-17
Experts - we have 200 users and 55 small networkable printers.  We want to detach them from their various PC's and have them served by a main server so they can continue to be shared, but also are accessible to the leasing company for meter reads.  

We have been told this is a bad idea - GB switches for each would cost about $45 - $60 each, then there's the problem with one crazy, possibly causing a loop, while we try to figure out which device it is... Not to mention the fact that it would slow down our network.  Has anyone done this?  Any suggestions?  (Right now, we take 3 hours out of our day once every few months to walk around the 3 facilities so the leasing company can touch each printer, print a meter read -- it's a pain).  It would also be nice to see all the printers in one place to set up sharing... Open to suggestions and ideas.  Thanks!
Question by:whiterwhiter
    LVL 37

    Expert Comment

    Firstly Why would you need GB switches? Are ALL your PC's connected to GB ports on GB switches currently??
    IF you have your printers networked Via PC's currently why do you think that running them correctly on a print server will make things worse?
    LVL 37

    Expert Comment

    Also, if all your swithes are up to the job, move ALL your printers onto a seperate VLAN thus in effect reducing your network traffic
    LVL 13

    Accepted Solution

    55 small networkable printers
    Do they HAVE network cards in them or are network cards an option?  If so, consider the cost.

    If they are network aware, then verify that each model will give the information the technician needs thru the web interface.  Not all models will give the information they require.

    You don't need gigabit switches for each printer.  Just need to plug them into any network switch and away you go.  If you want to get suave about it you could put them on their own VLAN, but there's nothing that would stop you from just plugging them into any network port and letting it get a DHCP address.

    A print server is usually used to simplify deployment and management.  So you could set up a Server called "" and add the printers to Active Directory.  This would let people search for the printers (make sure you use descriptive names and locations so people can find them on their own without calling help desk unnecessarily).  You can manage print jobs thru the print server and stop/restart the spooler if needed instead of running around the office to the individual PC's that the devices are attached to.

    Get the MAC addresses of each printer
    Setup Reservations in DHCP
    Plug the printers into the network (Might need to power cycle to reinitialize the network cards)
    Connect via IP Address to the printer
    Change the name to something meaningful and descriptive
    add the printer to the print server
    Add the printer to Active Directory
    Push out new printer locations via GPO or run around and do it manually on everyones destkop
    Ignore the "Slow down the network" statement cause that's not overly accurate (unless you are printing hundreds of pages every minute or something ridiculous)
    LVL 30

    Expert Comment

    >We have been told this is a bad idea - GB switches for each would cost about $45 - $60 each.

    There is not a printer out there that even has a gig port as far as i know.

    Using centralized print ques is better than going IP printing as you can set up priority when it comes to print jobs.

    Some companies have their own managed print utilities that allows for centralized troubleshooting,workstation installs and driver upgrades(HP comes to mind as does Xerox).

    The low end HP stuff sucks these days (I wouldn't touch an inkjet of theirs anymore),but the high end laser stuff is still OK.

    64 bit drivers on 32 bit print servers can be a nightmare,so be forewarned.
    LVL 2

    Expert Comment

    There are actually a few printers these days with gb ports, but there's not enough info from the OP to say for sure.  It sounds to me like the printers are with the pc's right now, and maybe both the pcs and printers need to be put onto a small switch to accomplish the networking goal.  The gb spec would be for the pc in that case, not the printer.  Without the model of the printer(s) it's hard to get more specific.

    Netgear makes some small switches that do loop detection.  I think the GS105 does, 5port gigabit, and they should be around $20-30.
    LVL 30

    Assisted Solution

    Netgear will always be higher,the cheapies are Tenda in that price range.

    I was complaining to one of the Cisco engineers about their VOIP phones not not having a gig passthrough port and he blew it off saying you really don't need it.

    His words,but it makes you think why is Cisco selling gig switches then?

    Author Comment

    OK - good points from all.  Generally, there are 2-3 PC's in an area using one printer - the switch is just because we don't want to add more cabling to a 60 year old building. The plan: to use existing network cable, add a switch, plug each unit in.

    The printers are Kyocera FS 1370's or 4020's  w/integrated network capability - Kyocera has  management utilities to support multiple network printers.  (I know what you're thinking... we HAD all HP laserjets. Then management changed and when maintenance contract came due, (some HP's were 6-9 years old needing replacing), "new mgr" decided to give friends the contract and replace all.) Anyhow, they aren't that bad, but personally would have stayed with HP.

    When I talked to one of our PC suppliers, he pointed out  that some of the more inexpensive generic switches "could" come with pre-existing viruses. Also  heard a horror story about a printer looping/causing network problems and nobody could find the cause.  

    Currently, we have about 20 copiers and printers being served off two Win 2008R2 servers like "expert xDUCKx" described. Of 12 servers, we designated one server in each area/facility to serve printers.  Lately it's been hell because we have people moving back and forth (facilities have different IP subnets) WITH their equipment, and printers get detached from one, attached to another, shared by multiple users, requiring --- you know what.  

    As for worrying about slower network --figuring we have only so much bandwidth, we run extensive in-house software that requires a LOT, I wanted to do this the best way. Obviously, not all users will be using all printers in all areas.  (But then you get those guys with wireless laptops walking around wanting to print!)

    So what's the consensus?
    LVL 30

    Expert Comment

    If a switch came with a virus,it would be the death knell of that company.

    There is not a switch that is made onshore anymore and most,if not all are farmed out to 3rd parties.

    Do you think Apple or Dell actually make their own circuit boards?

    Heck,I remember sealed MS software actually had boot sector virus at one point.

    Author Comment

    Do I sense a teensy bit of sarcasm in your reply?

    1) If a switch came with a virus, it would be the death knell of that company.** (Yes, and probably the company with the virus).  I was told if it has a controller board, it can get infected.  Am I being sold a bill of goods here?

    2) There is not a switch that is made onshore anymore and most, if not all are farmed out to 3rd parties. ** (More's the pity - but that opens a can or worms huh?)  So you would have no problem with purchasing an "off brand"?  We have purchased D-Link, Netgear, Linksys.  Have found that Linksys wireless last for years (some since 2004) the D- Link 12,24,48-port generally are OK 4 years, and they will replace/repair, but the Netgear have NOT been the greatest (24-48 port).  They just quit. A little hard after warranty to get some help.  I have replaced fans in just about all brands (that have them) after warranty is up.

    3) Do you think Apple or Dell actually make their own circuit boards?  **(Unfortunately, I know they do not...and again, we could use more tech and manufacturing in USA)
    Thank you for all your input and time replying.
    LVL 30

    Expert Comment

    I'm a Netgear dealer and they offer a limited lifetime warranty on those products with cross shipping included in the warranty.

    I have sold plenty of their product and had very little,if any issues.

    With that being said,there are some products that were flaky as he!!(Gig firewall router)that the tech guys told me to avoid and wait for the newer model.

    Any product can be tampered with.

    The US sold printers to Iraq that had hidden microcode that was used during the first gulf war.

    So yeah,hardware can be used as a virus source,but not very likely.

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