Today we discuss who will need access and the best way to handle this. Whether a home or office area, will more than one computer need access to the unit? If the answer is yes, than what is the best way to provide that access? Many switches and wireless units on the market today include a USB plug on the unit for sharing a printer and/or external storage unit. This is a good and secure way of sharing a printer for everyone to be able to print to. Whether home or office, I strongly recommend this as a solution needing shared printing. The reason is that if you have the printer connected to a machine and have to share it out, you must turn on sharing on that computer and make it easier for those will ill intentions of getting to the unit. Having the ability to plug the printer into a switch or wireless unit allows you to be able to access the printer from multiple machines, including your wireless computers and not compromise the security on a single machine.
If your switch or wireless access point does not have this feature you may want to consider spending the extra money to do this so as not to create an opening into your computer and/or network from having to share the unit on a computer. For those with older printer that have an LPT cable and not USB this is not something that can be handled with a new switch or wireless access point as they will only have USB connections. They do make an LPT to USB convertor, however, so you can do this if you want. I have an old HP 6P Laserjet that only has a LPT plug (purchased in 1997 and still running). I do have a print server with three LPT ports that has a network cable so I can share the printer over my home network with all my computers and not compromise computers on the network. If you have a server on the network you want to add the printer to and then share, you can do this without compromising a user’s computer.
In my last post on this subject we will cover your budget for a printer and how to extend your supplies and printer life.