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I want to share a printer to two computers sitting next to each other. Now I plug in the USB printer cable when one wants to print. Is there a cheap and better solution which allows two computers to access this printer (maybe not at the same time)?

I know that I can buy a new router with print-server capability but I already have a working wireless router-modem. My friend told me too that I can just plug the printer in one machine and share it over network, but then I have to boot that PC up before the other can access the printer. That's a little bit inconvenient to me.

Then I came up with this solution by myself. A normal USB hub has one plug and many receptacles. Instead I want the exact reverse, (at least) one receptacle for my printer and many plugs for many computers, but I have found none of such thing in any stores. Have you seen one?

Can you think of other solutions? Thanks.

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+1 good Question for SU –  pavsaund Aug 26 '09 at 10:55

4 Answers 4

up vote 7 down vote accepted

No, you can't do that. You need something smart in between to share the printer. Either one of your PCs or a print server.

You don't need to replace your whole router, you can get a device like this for example that you can just plug into one of the wired connections of your existing router. http://www.netgear.co.uk/usb%5Fprint%5Fserver%5Fps121.php

USB peripheral switches are a bit pointless because they are more expensive than a dedicated print server, they arn't 100% compatible with any USB device and can cause many additional problems. With a switch the printer would only be connected to one PC at a time, so you could not queue jobs and this can cause problems with printer drivers that monitor the status of the printer. They are out there but I would not recommend them for sharing a printer, they are more suitable for things like mice and keyboards.

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USB peripheral switches are available from several suppliers (e.g. Maplin in the UK: http://www.maplin.co.uk/Module.aspx?ModuleNo=99218) and manufacturers (e.g. ATEN).

Some KVM switches also have USB peripheral switching capability (e.g. some ATEN models) -- this is in addition to supporting USB for the keyboard and mouse switching between PCs.

You can also have a couple of small USB hubs (or just single USB extension connections) on the desktop and move the printer connector between these manually. I use this for connecting USB flash drives, for example. However, as with USB peripheral switches, it is your responsibility to make sure that moving from one computer to the other is done in a timely fashion that suits the host, the application and the peripheral, e.g. for a USB flash drive you should unmount the drive before unplugging or switching and you may need to follow a similar process for, for example, a USB-connected printer.

Whether these would work well with your specific USB device and requirement is not certain but you may be able to get specific advice from the peripheral supplier or switch supplier or current users of the combination. I don't know of any of these that would automatically allow a peripheral to be shared between multiple hosts: for printing, a print server is a better solution unless you want to manually switch between computers each time the printer is needed elsewhere and the manual switching works reliably.

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+1 cos this is a valid suggestion even if it wouldn't be ideal –  JamesRyan Aug 26 '09 at 11:08
    
Thank you for confirming that such switches are available for real. But indeed a USB wired print server is cheaper than those switches. –  puri Aug 27 '09 at 12:15

USB Switch Boxes like this are pretty good for the purpose. There really is no need to throw away perfectly-functioning older hardware for the sake of something you can buy for ten quid/bucks. I despair of our Age's obsession with disposable/obsolete-in-a-year electronics. I am just about old enough to remember when things were build solidly, to last. We had radios, amplifiers and reel-to-reel tape machines made in the 1960s that worked perfectly (and probably still do but have been relegated to boxes in the attic) when I was a kid in the 80s. They were solid and designed to be used for the life of the components. And designed to have easily replaceable components. Compare a Land Rover Defender to an iPhone for example.

You hang on to your printer.

OK rant over ;-)

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You need a network printer, or a network interface to your printer.

Your options depend on the printer you own - but unless your printer is expensive - it makes more sense to just replace it.

As printers go - this is so far been the best one I have owned, i have given one to most of my relatives. Full featured - cheap ink, easy setup.

http://www.brother-usa.com/mfc/ModelDetail.aspx?ProductID=DCP585CW

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protected by studiohack Apr 27 '11 at 0:54

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