A print server is a hardware device which is used for converting a printer into a network printer. Printers typically come with USB or parallel ports. A network printer is costlier than a normal printer. Though printer sharing is a feature, which is available on Windows it makes it easier to configure a print server. Print servers would typically have USB or a Parallel port. The printer would then be connected to the port on the print server. The print server is configurable using the web interface. Print servers would have an IP address. This IP address would be configured on the systems which require access to the printer. In the printers list, the IP address of the print server would be configured. When the PC triggers a print, it goes to the print server and the associated printer. A print server is the ideal device if cost is a limitation and you want to setup a printer on the network. There are also wireless print servers which can integrate with an existing wireless network.
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Case study 1
Tom has a printer in his home network. Currently the printer is connected to his PC on the Desk. He and his wife has a wireless laptop. For any printing purpose, Tom has to send the content to the desktop PC via email or copy it it to a USB and connect it to the PC and print. Printing is not possible directly from the laptops. This is a classic scenario where a print server can be used. Tom can purchase a print server and make the printer a network printer. Once the printer is on the network, tom can now then print from the laptops.
Case study 2
Andrew has a printer in office. He is currently using printer sharing feature which is available on the Windows PC , to which the printer is connected. One disadvantage of this method is that if the Windows PC is shutdown, the printer would be inaccessible to users on the network. This is another scenario where a print server can be used. Andrew can purchase a print server and can make the printer a network printer. The Windows PC would not be required