The Elephant in the Room…Your Print Server

As an IT professional, you wear a lot of hats in your organization. 

Your influence on company success may as well dub you The President of Productivity and Processes.

You’re responsible for analyzing technical problems, solving issues with innovative IT solutions, and evaluating user needs based on feedback. You have a hand in everything and are expected to be efficient when fixing hardware and software.

However, to do your job effectively and keep up with workplace demands, you need modern solutions that adapt and grow with you. That’s why it’s time to start talking about the elephant in the room that cuts into your daily work life and slows down end user productivity.

Your print server. 

 

Why Print Servers Slow You Down

For forward-thinking IT professionals like yourself, archaic hardware like print servers just can’t keep up with modern solutions designed to streamline work processes. They don’t integrate with innovative solutions that are necessary to compete with other leaders in your industry. 

Besides, when was the last time you remember saying, “Print servers speed up my work,” or “Print servers make my job easy”?

Probably not lately. 

Or ever. 

Below are a few other reasons print servers are the major “elephant in the room.” And why it might be time to face the fact that print servers aren’t the de facto print solution anymore. 

 

Server Crashes Cause Printer Downtime

When a centralized print server is a key cog in your print infrastructure, it cripples your organization if it crashes. Productivity slows down, and you’re on the hook to take care of it so business can continue as usual. 

More often than not, crashes occur due to heavy print traffic. This pushes management to get another server to disperse print traffic. As your organization grows, you start acquiring so many servers that they become harder to manage without more resources and manpower. 

You’d think more servers would enhance your print environment. Although setting up additional print servers frees up print job traffic and eliminates the single point of failure, the cost to operate, maintain, and license them increases. Plus, you lose centralized control, making it harder to track print jobs and deploy printers accurately. 

But employing more print servers doesn’t mean server crashes completely disappear. 

 

Their Security Is Dependent on You

You get out of print servers what you put into them. That’s what the hope is, at least. 

If you stay current on updates and patches, you put yourself in a position to succeed and keep your environment secure. However, print spooler vulnerabilities started to put things into perspective and spotlighted print servers as vulnerable pieces of legacy hardware. 

Security patches became more frequent, admins had to disable the spooler service altogether, users needed admin rights just to print, and just when admins thought PrintNightmare was over…BAM! More patches, more headaches, and more Reddit investigations just to get through the torment. 

Spooler vulnerabilities aside, it’s tough manually securing your print servers by using data encryption for communication, adding security extensions, and asking end users to use stronger passwords to avoid data breaches.

No matter what, you’re taking on a lot of responsibility just to secure your print environment. 

We feel for you. 

 

They Restrict Your End Users

We live in an age where flexibility is a must for employees. They move from floor to floor, between buildings, go on business trips to other countries, and work from anywhere. Traditional print environments haven’t developed fast enough to keep up with new workforce trends, making printing flexibility non-existent. 

Many hybrid employees use their mobile devices (tablets, laptops, etc.) to access company documents and critical information. What they are unable to do is print off-network securely—where and when they need to. They’re burdened with waiting until they arrive at a remote worksite to print all their documents.

These limitations put a damper on productivity and also put pressure on you to deploy printers every time a user walks into an office building. 

 

You’re Always Reactive Instead of Proactive

Server and printer issues are inevitable in traditional print environments. When a server crashes, you get a helpdesk ticket. When a printer is out of ink, you get another one. In every situation, you are a sitting duck waiting for a call to fix something print-related. To add fuel to the fire, it stops momentum on other projects or initiatives you’re trying to address to help your company move forward. Being reactive doesn’t allow you to tackle bigger problems and form a long-term strategy to help streamline print management for you and your colleagues. 

It’s not a great position to be in. 

What’s needed is a print solution that supports you and enables you to become proactive by addressing issues before they happen. You need all the tools at your disposal to not only reach your IT team’s long-term goals but solve print-related situations with more accuracy—giving you more free time.

That’s where centralized, direct IP printing comes in.

 

It’s Time to Let Go of Your Print Servers

Centralized, direct IP print management with PrinterLogic eliminates your print servers, keeps print jobs local, and enables you to control your entire environment from a single console. Our SaaS platform cuts out the manual labor associated with traditional print environments by empowering you to automate deployments, print cost reports, and security updates to streamline processes for you and your team. 

No more crashes. 

No more restrictions. 

No more patches. 

So you can finally start being proactive in your print environment.

How to Evaluate Your Company’s Current Print Management Solution in 2023

**Originally published on Oct 4, 2016**

Every so often, it’s important to revisit your current print management solution to see if it’s still working for you. What might have been a welcome improvement five or ten years ago might no longer be effective as your print environment and workplace have continuously evolved. There’s even a chance your print management solution could negatively impact your organization’s morale, efficiency, and bottom line.

To better evaluate any enterprise print management solution, it helps to match its performance against a set of criteria. Below is a short checklist in the form of questions you can ask to see if your current solution is still performing as expected and determine if it meets your organization’s existing and future needs.

How much printing downtime are you experiencing?

Printer downtime might be the most basic metric of any enterprise print management solution. If printing is regularly held up by server crashes, spooler hangs, or rogue drivers—and the difficulty in troubleshooting those instabilities—something needs to change. 

On top of print server maintenance and updates, printers themselves are hard to keep up with. Any multi-function printers in your fleet have several things that can go wrong: scanner not working, paper jams, faulty copier, etc., which often result in you becoming a decorated repairman instead of an innovative IT specialist. Most modern print solutions provide you with instant alerts to help you be more proactive instead of reactive when a printer goes down. 

If SNMP alerts and Advanced Reporting features haven’t been implemented into your print environment yet, you’re missing out on opportunities to resolve issues before they happen and easily identify ways to increase printer uptime in your organization.

Is it secure?

Print security is a term that has received its fair share of headlines amongst print management solutions. It’s a rather broad term, but securing your print environment and the data that flows through it requires many moving parts. 

For example, to protect documents from internal theft, companies are implementing pull printing functionality that allows users to release print jobs at designated network printers via some form of authentication (badge reader, PIN, etc.). 

Another level of security comes with identity provider (IdP) integrations. Print solutions that integrate with major IdPs help thwart external attacks by prompting users to authenticate on their devices and only authorizing them to use the applications they need to do their jobs. Requiring users to sign in via SSO or MFA before they have access to printing keeps external attackers out and helps quickly identify attacks when they do happen. 

We only named a few, but there are plenty of security features you can take advantage of to lock down your print security. One of the most crucial pieces of increased security is reducing legacy systems. In today’s climate, they aren’t compatible with modern print security solutions, lack sufficient audit trails, and are more vulnerable to data breaches.  

Is your print management solution future-proof? 

Traditional print management solutions are still running on a model introduced over two decades ago. Without dozens of supplemental solutions and custom tweaks, this model is inflexible and can’t adapt to the increasing need for mobile printing, secure printing, or enterprise-wide print reporting/auditing in modern workplaces.

Future-proofing your print environment means adopting modern solutions designed to satisfy your organization’s future needs. Think of how your printing infrastructure fits into your company’s five-year plan:

Is your print environment prepared to take on hundreds of new employees? 

Does it have the tools and security in place to embrace Zero Trust Network Architecture? 

How will it integrate with new cutting-edge VDIs and IdPs? 

It’s a lot to consider, but these types of questions should be top of mind for sysadmins and IT managers building toward a future-proof print environment. 

What kind of infrastructure is required? 

All enterprise print management solutions have infrastructure requirements. The more fundamental question is whether that infrastructure is necessary. For example, distributed organizations often place one or more print servers in each remote location, driving up costs associated with maintenance, print management, and hardware. 

What’s more, it feels like adding print servers is the only solvent to evenly disperse print traffic and manage new remote locations when they pop up. Once you have hundreds or thousands of printers on these servers, it’s easy to lose track of how many you have in your fleet and how many are actually being used. In fact, around 90% of companies don’t even know how many printers they have

If you’re struggling to reduce infrastructure, try weeding out under-utilized printers and exploring ways to consolidate your print server management

Is it built to scale?

Several enterprise print management solutions promote themselves as scalable, but accommodating a growing user base by throwing more infrastructure and resources into an existing solution isn’t exactly ideal. Although adding print servers increases performance and offers built-in redundancy, they cause a cascade of problems. 

More print servers equate to less control, higher licensing fees, and more printer definitions to maintain. IT managers also have to add more employees to their team and train them on their policies and maintenance requirements, taking up time and more IT budget. 

Another necessity of today’s printing solutions is their ability to extend to your hybrid workforce. The remote work model has taken over, but hybrid employees still need printing capabilities with their devices when they visit remote offices. When remote users need access to nearby network printers, they often have no choice but to call the helpdesk and ask for printers to be installed. 

If your current print solution doesn’t cater to your hybrid workers, it not only restricts your ability to scale, it puts more pressure on you to handle print-related helpdesk calls when users visit the office.

How many print-related helpdesk tickets are you getting?

Print-related helpdesk calls are an often overlooked evaluation tool but a largely important one, as printing is an essential function of any workplace. Most helpdesk calls are print related (up to 40%) and can limit your productivity at the office. When users can’t print where and when they need to because of printing downtime or elaborate installation procedures, it can be detrimental to morale, creating an “us vs. them” mindset between users and tech support.

Excessive helpdesk calls come in many shapes and forms. Some can be as basic as a vague, “My printer won’t print.” Others may result from failed deployments and require additional troubleshooting on your end before it gets resolved. And as mentioned earlier, your hybrid users may need to install printers in a remote office they are visiting for the first time.

If you’re dedicating a few hours daily to addressing printer issues, it’s probably time to start wiping out your biggest instigator: print servers

Check All The Boxes for Optimized Print Management

This print management checklist is by no means exhaustive and should be adapted to fit your organization’s unique conditions and priorities. But it should help you identify key performance aspects of your enterprise print management solution and determine whether or not it’s time to migrate to one that is more stable, scalable, future-proof, and cost-effective.

Get your free 30-day trial of PrinterLogic’s serverless printing solution today!

 

 

Chromebook Printing Got You Down?

January 2021 marked the beginning of something special: no more Google Cloud printing. 

Google Cloud Print offered Chromebook users an easy way to print, but let’s be honest, it wasn’t exactly the most robust printing application on the market. 

Why is Chromebook printing important?

Chromebook printing is important because Chromebooks generally offer the same memory, speed, and functionality as other operating systems—without the high price tag. 

Chromebooks are cheap (mostly under $400), the operating system is stable and fast, they have an outstanding battery life, and are utilized heavily in the education industry for distance learning. 

Additionally, it’s easier to put Chromebooks in the hands of students and workers alike because they give them all of the tools needed to perform daily tasks.

Except for printing, that is. 

Here we are two years after Google Cloud Print’s deprecation. You’re still digging to discover the best way to manage Chromebook print environments without overspending or overcomplicating things for end users. Or you might be stocking up on Chromebooks for the first time, wondering what all the fuss is about. 

Either way, don’t let Chromebook printing get you down. 

We’re here to help by providing you with a list of Chromebook printing “don’ts” and an easier path to Chromebook printing once and for all. 

The Don’ts of Chromebook Printing

Before you start endlessly researching How to print with Chromebooks or How to print after Google Cloud Print, let’s eliminate the complicated tutorials and jump right into the “don’ts” of Chromebook printing. 

Don’t spend money on compatible printers.

Many quick fixes for Chromebook printing ask you to buy compatible printers. Chromebooks can connect to newer printers via WiFi or a USB cable and have the drivers built in to handle most manufacturers. Many network and USB printers can work with your Chromebook right out of the gates. 

Have a lot of older, incompatible printers in your fleet?

Before you start thinking about buying Google-certified printers just to get your Chromebook print environment off and running, some solutions offer extensions that provide you with the compatibility you need to have a fully Chromebook-agnostic print environment. Solutions like these help you save money on time and hardware costs.

Don’t forget to update your systems.

If you haven’t updated your system in a while, it might cause your Chromebook to be uncooperative. Even if you set Chromebooks to update automatically, you still might have to “Restart to Update” to complete the installation. 

Furthermore, don’t forget to keep your printer firmware up-to-date to avoid running into future problems. Updating your printer firmware ensures smoother printing, enhances security, keeps compatibility with new operating systems, and unlocks new features that may not have been available on previous firmware versions. 

Don’t waste time manually connecting Chromebooks to your printers.

Admins assigned to a large fleet of printers with different makes and models simply don’t have the time to manually connect printers to their Chromebooks. Even if you successfully complete the daunting task of manually connecting all your Chromebooks with your printers, you’ll likely still be running infinite circles to ensure your users can always print. 

Some older printers don’t have the internet capability to connect manually via an internet connection. If you have a lot of older printers in your fleet, you could find yourself connecting Chromebooks using a USB cable. This old-school process significantly reduces end user mobility and wastes more of your valuable time. 

Don’t limit user mobility.

It’s easy to throw in the towel and ask your end users to connect to the printer via USB to print. Although it’s a great security measure, it’s not the best in educational settings or professional environments. Students moving from classroom to classroom need to be able to print on the fly. The same goes for hybrid work environments where users move from office to office. 

Any time a user is on your company network, they should be able to print to the nearest printer on the local network. Connecting via USB or limiting a group of users to a specific printer decreases productivity and doesn’t allow you to fully utilize other printers in your environment or equally disperse print job traffic.

Don’t sacrifice security.

It’s common to see admins manage Chromebook print queues using print servers. While they may be effective in terms of management, they pose too much of a risk in today’s print environments. Print spooler vulnerabilities like PrintNightmare turned routine printer installations and driver deployments into full-on marathons so users could print. 

Not to mention, there are situations where end users may use their Chromebooks to print to their home office printers, which aren’t always on a secure network. Printing to unsecured printers not only puts personal information at risk but puts the company’s critical data at risk as well. 

So how do you get the most out of Chromebook printing in your environment without overspending on compatible printers, wasting time on manual updates, and sacrificing security? 

Chromebook Printing for Enterprises and SMBs

Take all the uncertainty out of Chromebook printing with the PrinterLogic Chrome OS Extension. Get broad printer compatibility with driverless printing technology and access your printers’ advanced features on-the-fly to get the best possible output on every print job. The 100% device-agnostic Extension quickly pulls the printers’ settings and configures them for Chromebook users.

No more IT intervention necessary!

Better yet, no internet connection or a cloud-based service is needed to make printing work. 

Start getting the most out of your Chromebook print environment and provide your end users with the flexibility they need to print on the go. 

Get a free 30-day trial of our Chrome OS Extension today!

Secure Printing Solutions: What Are They? And Why Do You Need Them?

**Originally published on December 3, 2014**

Not to be confused with pull printing, secure printing has become a household name in the print management industry. Internal document theft is up. The financial damage caused by data breaches is getting harder to swallow. And companies are taking note.   

So what are secure printing solutions, and why do you need them? 

What is secure printing?

Secure printing is the process of releasing a print job at a designated printer using one of several authentication methods. Documents are held in a queue until the user is physically present at the printer. Authentication methods vary—from entering an employee PIN to scanning an ID badge or using a mobile application—and can be released only when the user is physically present at the printer. 

This is slightly different than its pull printing counterpart. Pull printing allows jobs to be released at any pull printing-enabled network printer. Regardless, secure printing and pull printing offer an additional layer of security that protect confidential documents. But secure printing solutions provide benefits that extend to the remote workforce and help future-proof your print environment. 

How can secure printing solutions benefit you?

They help you reduce legacy infrastructure.

Secure printing solutions aren’t exactly “secure” if you can’t reduce legacy infrastructure. In this case, I’m not talking about your grandfather’s printers. 

I’m talking about your print servers. 

After the whole PrintNightmare fiasco, it became clear that print servers needed to be wiped from the picture. Secure printing solutions take print servers out of the equation and don’t hold print jobs in a spooler queue. Instead, print jobs are held on the workstation or the printer and remain on the local network until a user is ready to release it.

They allow remote workers to print securely.

Remote workers need a way to print securely without having to resort to printing on an unmanaged, off-network home printer. Secure printing solutions can give contractors, remote workers, and roaming employees the ability to print to an in-network printer while being on an outside network. 

This type of functionality enables end users moving between their home and the office to print freely and release their documents at the office at their convenience, encouraging employees to stop using home office printers which are a huge security liability and impossible for admins to track. 

Furthermore, secure Off-Network Printing capabilities offer employees a flexible way to deliver confidential documents to someone in the office instead of sending personal or customer information to them via email.  

They adhere to Zero Trust standards.

Secure printing is a crucial aspect of complying with Zero Trust standards. The additional layer of security means confidential information stays in the hands of those who printed it. That level of authentication is a step in the right direction. But to be considered a Zero Trust-caliber secure printing solution, it has to integrate with the identity providers (IdPs) you use in your environment. 

IdPs provide your company with a double layer of security your end users must go through before they can print. They also restrict users to the necessary applications they need to do their job. Adding secure printing functionality on top of that dramatically reduces the risk of identity and document theft, helping you achieve Zero Trust Printing

They give users mobile printing capabilities.

Secure printing capabilities can extend to your end users’ mobile devices. If you’re managing a BYOD environment, leveraging phones, tablets, and laptops to print securely is a great way to cut down on costs and boost productivity simultaneously. Users can send a print job to a designated printer on the company network and release it later—without having to hop on specific company computers just to print a few documents.  

There is a caveat to this one. 

Not all secure printing solutions offer 100% compatibility with all printer models and operating systems (this one does). So make sure to choose a solution that checks all the boxes for the devices and printers in your environment. 

They future-proof your business.

Theft isn’t going away. But it’s possible to mitigate it. 

Secure printing solutions set you up for future success and reduce the chances of information being exploited for personal gain or a competitive advantage. They’re able to meet the demands of a hybrid workforce and offer a consistent end-user experience that doesn’t hamper productivity. They enable printing from an array of mobile devices and are built around maintaining compliance throughout all industries. 

And most of all, they take pressure off IT.

Secure Printing Solutions on a Single Platform

One problem with most of the secure printing products on the market is that they require a print server, which means that if your print server goes down, everything ceases to work. 

PrinterLogic eliminates your print servers and removes the single point of failure while providing a centrally managed direct IP printing platform. On top of that, PrinterLogic is 100% device and OS-agnostic and integrates with all major IdPs. 

PrinterLogic’s version of secure printing, Secure Release Printing, holds print jobs on the user’s workstation and empowers users to release print jobs using one of the following methods:

  • Smartphone App/QR Code
  • Control Panel
  • Web Browser
  • Badge reader

Plus, get access to additional secure printing features like Off-Network Printing, Mobile App Release, and Concurrent IdP Support to extend the security reach of your print environment. 

See firsthand how PrinterLogic leverages secure printing features in the cloud and gives you the protection you need in today’s print environments. 

Get your free 30-day trial of serverless printing today.