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Print Servers or Direct Printing?


Since version 16 PaperCut introduced the tracking and controlling of Direct Print jobs there has been some (friendly) debate in the selectec office about the benefits of print servers and direct printing. Below we discuss some of the benefits of both setups. When should you use a print server compared to setting up direct IP printing?

Direct IP Printing

Printing without a dedicated print server


  • With no central print server you remove a single point of failure from the network.
  • Direct printing saves on network traffic by keeping print jobs on the local machine to spool.
  • The network users have complete control over the driver to suit their individual needs.
  • As the jobs spool locally, resources on a print server are not used. Anyone printing uses the power of their own machine to render the jobs.

Printing through a print server


  • The ability to manage all print devices from a central interface cuts down on administration time.
  • Deploying printers via Active Directory or similar makes life easier.
  • Automatic driver updates are pushed out en-mass.
  • Total control over deployed print drivers ensure features and image quality are exactly how the users and administrators need them.
  • Setting defaults for print queues and other printer settings is more easily managed in one central location.
  • View and manage all queued print jobs from the server to allow oversight of job names, status, and sizes for all jobs.
  • The print server logs will keep track of who is printing, and where, so admins have an audit log.
  • Cut down on support issues due to user misconfiguration.
  • Printer permissions are a basic security requirement, a print server will give you total control over who can print, and where.
  • Clustering and pooling of the printers for high availability.

The Answer?


Deciding how to configure any printing environment always depends on the available IT resources and the how tech savvy the user base is. Everyone will want a system that works for them, and does not cause bottlenecks or IT headaches.

Each setup has its own pros and cons, we touched on the benefits earlier in this article and the evidence would suggest a print server is the way to go. It is not however, all plain sailing. The print server will cost money for the hardware and the software license. You also introduce a single point of failure on the network, one bad print driver could stop printing in the company. Does this mean direct printing is the right answer? Losing the ability to manage printers centrally, and setting permissions is a big deal for any mid to large sized organisation.

There is no right or wrong, but internally our tech teams lean heavily towards having a print server (or two…).

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Since we started working with selectec and using papercut 7 years ago we have found the product and the support team excellent, long may the relationship continue

Simon Riley Direct-tec
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