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Tech Take-Apart
Installing a Print Server
by kp

Over the years, my home network has grown to include so many computers that I have a constant problem sharing printer functions between them. Swapping cables between computers or weighing down one system to control all printer sharing chores can be tedious. To simplify my printing issue, I decided to add a print server to my LAN, so I can print, scan, or fax anywhere to my all-in-one. A cool feature of a print server is that it works beyond just print sharing - you can print from any location where you can access your email account.

Linksys PrintServer for USB with 4-Port Switch
Linksys PrintServer for USB with 4-Port Switch

There are different types of print servers available - wireless, wired, USB, LPT, etc. Depending on your home office needs and network setup, you may be limited in which type of equipment to use. In my SOHO (small office/home office), I have an old HP Officejet All-in-One USB printer, so I chose to go with the Linksys Print Server with a 4-port switch. With a switch, I can connect other devices to the network without monopolizing the few Ethernet connections left on my LAN.

The first step is connecting the server to the network and printer. It is important to limit the space between devices to prevent signal loss. The USB cable shouldn't exceed 7 feet, and the network cable 328ft. Next, add the power adapter to activate the print server. The green lights should illuminate on the front of the print server. If an orange light is shown, the print server has connection problem.

After the hardware connections are complete, the print server interface needs to be set up. The provided CD includes a setup wizard to guide you through this process. While working through the installation, you have the option of changing the print server's name or keeping the default -  whatever you choose be sure to keep a note for future reference. In addition, you need the domain name and assigned IP address for IPP ( Internet Printing Protocol). In addition, the setup wizard gives you the choice of either automatically getting an IP address using DHCP or manually configuring the IP address.

The next step is installing the printer driver. Using the installation CD, select the User Install option. This function requires rebooting the system after installation. Linksys also provides a utility program to help manage the print server's settings called Bi-Admin Management. The program is essential for controlling the unit's functions. After the Bi-Admin software is installed, it should automatically detect any device connected to the server. From the main screen, you can monitor the server and printer status, run test pages, and check firmware version.

Bi-Admin Management
Bi-Admin Management

Once all the hardware and software components are installed, the print server configuration is accessible through your browser by typing in the IP address collected earlier from the setup wizard. The menu allows you to assign the printer name (as shown on the bottom of the print server), reset the password, IP Address, Internet Printing, and check device specifications.

Print Server browser utility
Print Server browser utility

The final step is to change your printer settings under the Control Panel of your computers. Go to Printers and Faxes, and select Properties for your designated printer. Under the Ports menu, make sure the appropriate port is selected for your print server. Click on Configure Port to verify the server name and port type. Apply your changes and close the menu.

Installing a print server is fairly easy and can provide more functionality than just printer sharing alone. Plus, it has the advantage of Internet printing. The Linksys Print Server with 4-port Switch has the benefit of additional Ethernet ports for more network connectivity and can be an asset to any LAN.

Linksys PrintServer for USB with 4-Port Switch
Linksys Wireless-G Print Server

Linksys - Print Servers
Linksys - PSUS4 Print Server for USB with 4-Port Switch

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