Routers for Your Printers

Printers can be connected to your network using routers instead of cables.
Printers can be connected to your network using routers instead of cables. | Source

Introduction

Routers connect local networks to other networks, including the internet. A router can connect a hundred computers to a single shared printer or print server through a wireless connection.

Brand name print server routers include but are not limited to ASUS, Linksys and Netgear. Hewlett Packard has print servers that connect to networks via Ethernet.

Printers and Router Connections

Plugging routers into a printer creates a wireless printer. Wireless printers accept print jobs from anyone in the vicinity, creating a shared printer for everyone on the local network.

Wi-fi print server routers must meet the IEEE 802.11 standard because wi-fi printers use the same frequencies and hardware as laptop computer wi-fi connections. Connecting printers to the network via routers eliminates the need to connect the printer to the network via a series of cables.

What is a Network Enabled Printer or Network Ready Printer?

Wireless printers are added via the “Devices and Printers” window in Microsoft Windows. Each wireless printer will be identified by its IP address through its built in router. A printer plugged in directly to the router may not show up immediately in the printer listing until the router is recognized by the local intranet. Give it a few minutes or even an hour to be visible on the network.

Adding the Wireless Printer

Wireless printers are added via the “Devices and Printers” window in Microsoft Windows. Each wireless printer will be identified by its IP address through its built in router. A printer plugged in directly to the router may not show up immediately in the printer listing until the router is recognized by the local intranet. Give it a few minutes or even an hour to be visible on the network.

IT security measures must include your routers.
IT security measures must include your routers. | Source

Wireless Printer Security

Routers offer hackers a way to access your network. Whether the router is used for a printer or enabling multiple home computers to share a single internet connection, it needs to be secured. Assign a static IP address to the printer so that it can always be found by users’ computers.

Change the default user name and password on the router to prevent hackers form accessing it. You need to do this on routers plugged into your printer as well, or a hacker could potentially read everything you print, from resumes to personal letters. You can update the firmware on the router to a more recent and secure version, though a failed update will cause the router to stop working.

Using WEP encryption should be a minimum. LEAP, WPA and WPA2 encryption are better because they are more secure. LEAP encryption forces users to re-authenticate or validate their identities periodically. WPA-Personal is a form of encryption that designed to be used in home networks.

Solving Common Issues with Wireless Printers

If the network-enabled printer is not receiving the data from surrounding PCs, move it closer to the computers so that it can better receive their signals. Wireless printers are subject to interference. Many Bluetooth headsets could interfere with a Bluetooth printer. Wireless networking with multiple PCs could cause problems with a wireless printer connection. If the printer cannot seem to pick up the job or be found on the network, reduce the number of wireless devices in the vicinity.

References

1. “How to Stop E-mail Spam, Spyware, Malware, Computer Viruses, and Hackers from Ruining Your Computer or Network” by Bruce Cameron Brown
2. "InDesign CS4 Bible" by Galen Gruman

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