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By making a printer accessible on the network, you allow multiple devices to share a single print device. Network printing uses the following three special processes and components:

  • The client application generates the print job on the local system. This process is known as spooling.
  • The print job is sent to a print queue. The queue is a location for storing waiting print jobs.
  • A print server is responsible for managing the flow of documents from the queue to the printer. When the printer is ready, the print server takes the next document out of the queue and sends it to be printed.

When configuring network printing, keep in mind the following considerations:

Consideration Description
Connect the printer to the network The printer must have a connection to the network (either wired or wireless). This can be done in one the following ways:
  • Install a network interface card in the printer.
  • Connect the printer to a workstation or server that is connected to the network. The printer is shared to make it available to other computers.
  • Connect the printer to a special print server that has a network connection.
If the printer itself does not have a network connection, you use the parallel or USB port to connect the printer to another device.
Use a print server The print server manages the flow of documents sent to the printer. Using a print server lets you customize when and how documents print. The print server can be any one of the following devices:
  • An internal print server is inside the printer itself. You use special management software to connect to the print server and manage print jobs.
  • You can configure a computer (either a server or a workstation) to perform print server functions. The computer can fill other roles on the network in addition to being the print server. Most operating systems include print server software.
  • You can purchase an external print server. This device is only used as a print server, although many print servers can manage multiple printers.
Install the printer drivers Each network host that wants to use the printer must have the corresponding printer driver installed. When you share a printer in Windows, the current printer driver is automatically delivered to clients that connect to the shared printer. If the client computers run a different version of Windows, you can add the necessary printer drivers to the printer object.

To add drivers for network users:

  • Edit the printer properties and use the Advanced tab.
  • Edit the print server properties and use the Sharing tab.

To configure a printer attached to a Windows computer as a network printer:

  1. Connect the print device to the computer.
  2. Configure the printer object where the print device is connected.
  3. Share the printer. If necessary, configure additional drivers to support client computers.
  4. On a client computer, create a network printer object using the share name of the shared printer. To manually identify the shared printer, use the format: \\computername\sharename.

To connect to a network attached printer or one using an external print server, create a printer using a TCP/IP port. Use the IP address and port name information to connect to the printer.