Virtually any printer with a standard parallel or serial port can be networked. In most cases, the printer driver converts the document being printed into a form the printer understands. In some cases, this is PostScript* output; in other cases, the output may be PCL*; in yet others, it may be a proprietary format.
As a general rule, the following printers can be networked easily:
- Printers listed in the standard printer list for your system
- Printers that can be added with the standard Windows* Add Printer wizard by using the Have Disk function to load a driver off floppy or diskette
- Any printer driver that you can set up to print to FILE and successfully get a printout by copying the file to LPT1 (COPY test.prn /B LPT1:):
Some printer drivers require you to run their specific installation programs rather than supporting the standard Windows Have Disk functionality. After running these installation programs (and pretending the printer is attached to LPT1), the output must then be redirected to the print server.
Some printers are called Host-based Printers (a.k.a. GDI printer, Windows-only printer). The term Host-Based Printer is used to refer to a printer that has very little intelligence. It does not have a Page Description Language (PDL) interpreter, any built in fonts, or print straight ASCII text. Therefore, it does not require a powerful processor or large amounts of RAM or ROM. To overcome this lack of printer intelligence, the work of generating each page shifts from the printer to the PC, specifically the host-based printer driver on the PC. This is where the actual page (raster) data is created and sent down to the printer. Since the data needs little to no processing on the printer (binary data in a stream or simple packet protocol) it can be sent down to the printer and go to the page faster. With faster PC's such as those using Intel® Pentium® III processors, this sometimes allows faster overall printing than formatting the page using the printer's processor. Unfortunately, the printer drivers for these printers are often designed to communicate back and forth with the printer-they can't take a stream of data from a PC or print server without communicating between the printer and the driver. If this bi-directional communication is required for a printer driver to work, it often cannot be networked. Printers that double as fax machines often have this restriction. These printers are not designed for use on networks but many of them can be finessed into working with an external print server.
Some printers may require extra steps from the user in order to make them work on a network, which may include one or more of the following:
¨ Install the printer as LOCAL to LPT1. Then:
¨ For printers with a SETUP.EXE: install the printer as indicated by the manufacturer and follow the steps above to redirect the output to the print server.
- Right-click on the new printer definition and click Properties.
- Click the Details tab and click Add Port (From Windows NT* click the Ports tab).
- Select Other, then Intel Network Port and click New Port.
- Browse to the print server and printer port or enter the print server and port name such as \\SALES\HPCOLOR, then press OK.
¨ Disable bi-directional support in the printer properties Details tab.
¨ Contact the printer manufacturer for a networkable printer driver. Some printer manufacturers have corporate or network printer drivers either hidden on their CD's or on their Web sites.
One common misconception is that the Test Page button on an external print server is a good measure of whether the printer will work in a network. Some printers can only speak a particular printer language and cannot print straight ASCII text. As such, these printers cannot understand the straight text generated when the Test Page button is pressed. However, if the proper printer driver is used to print to this printer, the printer's special printer language is used and the printer can print the document correctly.
This applies to: