A note on printing…
Category : Blog
If you have a network of two or more computers, you should probably utilize a Print Server to make management a bit easier. Despite the complex-sounding name, a Print Server could be as simple as one of your machines on a Workgroup network that shares its printers with your other devices. This would take no more than 5-10 minutes for a Technician with a basic understanding in networking. The idea is that one device maintains a que for all printing so that multiple devices don’t overwhelm a printer by sending multiple print jobs at the same time. Also, it allows for one central place to manage the print jobs if you need to cancel a job that someone accidently printed. The larger the network, the more crucial your print server becomes in your operation.
One of my earliest lessons in Print Server management was when I managed IT for a small, private school. When fixing a printer in the Kindergarten classroom, I was shocked to see a string of fowl language fall into the print tray. Almost instantaneously, I heard a printer start up in another classroom. I frantically sprinted across the hall to intercept yet another freshly-printed sheet of fowl language! I knew what this prankster was up to… After collecting a mature-rated print from nearly every classroom before they touched the eyes of young children, I began some investigative work. Luckily, my Linux-based CUPS server was able to indicate which machine the print job came from and turn the Middle School culprit over to the Principal.
Needless to say, I decided to enforce stricter access-control policies for each printer. I changed my settings so that each machine could only print to the printer within proximity of the user. After a week of observation, I realized that by doing so, I had fixed more than one issue; I found less wasted paper from accidental print jobs sent to the wrong printer.
I would hope that most organizations fear not of rogue employees who print the word “shit” across the entire office, but I stumbled upon an essential layer of access-control for every office. After years of managing print services in multiple office environments, I found that restricting print access to an ‘as-needed’ basis will not only save paper, but also close a giant security gap. Imagine if HR printed a PAF or employment contract to the main copier instead of the HR office. Or maybe Operations doesn’t want a new vendor agreement to end up in the wrong hands…
Also, I’d recommend checking to see if your copier has a ‘mailbox’ feature. Copier mailboxes grant each user a private space on the copier in which documents are sent to when printed. When the user walks up to the copier, they have to enter a PIN code in order for the job to begin actually printing.
Whether for reasons of company security or auditing user immaturity, having proper access control policies on your print network can save a boatload of headaches. CUPS is a great, free server tool for both Mac and Linux environments. Windows has a great printer sharing feature for small workgroups, but it gets somewhat complex on a larger network. If you need help with a printer deployment, just give Skyfyi a call for a free quote. Happy printing!