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Installing Direct-Connect Network Printers

An alternative to attaching the printer directly to the server is attaching the printer directly to the network. To attach the printer directly to the network, the printer needs a network card that also provides the spooling and processing power to handle incoming print jobs (directly connected printers also typically have a lot more memory installed in them to avoid print buffer overflow).

A number of manufacturers (such as Intel and Hewlett-Packard) make both internal and external print server devices that can be installed in (or on) a printer. These devices then connect directly to the network over the same network media (such as twisted-pair cable connected to a hub or switch) that other devices and computers on the network use.

Because TCP/IP is the default network protocol for Windows Server 2008, printers using direct-connect devices can be configured with an IP address (using the configuration software that ships with the device or the printer) or can receive an IP address from the domain’s DHCP server. When a DHCP server is used on the network, the DHCP server assigns an IP address as soon as the direct-connect printer is attached to the network and brought online. You can find this IP address using the DHCP snap-in; all you have to do is examine the new leases that have been supplied to devices on the network. (For more about DHCP, see Hour 16, “Using the Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol”).

After you have established the IP address for the printer, you can connect the server to the printer by creating an IP port on the server. You do so by using the Add Printer Wizard; follow these steps:

1. Select Start, Control Panel, and then double-click Printers. The Printer window opens.

2. Double-click Add Printer. The Add Printer Wizard opens (see Figure 14.3).

Figure 14.3. Add a network printer to the server.

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3. Select the Add a Network, Wireless or Bluetooth Printer option. The Add Printer Wizard searches for available printers on the network.

4. If the printer that you want is on the list, click the printer and then click Next. The printer is identified and added to the server.

5. If the network printer is not listed, click The Printer That I Want Isn’t Listed link (this option should be used when you are connecting the printer to a server for the first time). The next wizard page opens, allowing you to find a printer by name or TCP/IP address (see Figure 14.4).

Figure 14.4. You can add a printer by share name or TCP/IP address.

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6. In cases where a direct-connect printer has not already been connected to a server and the network and shared (you can’t use the share name), you need to find the printer by TCP/IP address or hostname. Click the Add a Printer Using a TCP/IP Address or Hostname option button. Then click Next.

7. On the next screen, enter the hostname or the IP address for the printer (see Figure 14.5). Then click Next and the server detects the printer and TCP/IP port.

Figure 14.5. Enter the hostname or the IP address for the printer.

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8. After the printer and TCP/IP port are identified, the Add Printer Wizard identifies the print driver to use for the printer. The printer is also set as the default printer for the server (see Figure 14.6). Click Next to continue.

Figure 14.6. The Add Printer Wizard identifies the print driver for the network printer.

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9. The next wizard screen, by default, shares the printer on the network. It also provides a default share name (which you can edit if you wish). Click Next to continue.

By the Way

If you do not want to share the printer at this point, click the Do Not Share This Printer option button before selecting Next.

10. The last wizard page lets you know that the printer has been successfully added. If you want to print a test page, click the Print a Test Page button. Click Finish when you have completed adding the printer.

The printer is added to the printer list. The benefit of using direct-connect printers on the network is that they can be located anywhere on the network without requiring that a server be deployed to act as a print server in that same location. They also negate the need to overtax a server that might provide other network services because a server is not required to spool or process print jobs directed to the printer.

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