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I'm in the process of building, more like designing a small network for home. We currently have approximately 6 computers that can operate in the house. Unfortunately, all of these computers share one printer and must be plugged in to print. Can it essentially be done to where I can plug the printer into a router, configure it with a static IP address and then allow all computers to wirelessly print from their laptops? If this cannot be done do I need a computer to act as a DC to put the printer on the network?

I'm fairly new at configuring new networks and thought that network printing would be a good start to understanding network configuration.

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migrated from Jul 27 '11 at 19:57

This question came from our site for system and network administrators.

If by plugged in to print you mean the printer has a network cable, no, you don't require a separate server to do anything.

Plug in the printer, give it an IP address.

On your client machines add the printer (in Windows, add it as a local printer, using an IP port.) Yes, "local printer" added as an IP port. Counterintuitive.

From there Windows should detect it and get the proper driver, if not download the proper driver from Windows Update or the manufacturer.

But no server is technically necessary in the setup you describe.

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plus one, but i reckon by plugged in he is using USB I doubt there using a cross over cable to print its not very home like. – squarebear Jul 27 '11 at 20:22
You can also get a USB to Ethernet print server. The Print server will be assigned the IP.The easiest way would be to purchase a network capable printer. – Carl Jul 27 '11 at 21:09
@Carl is right, there are devices that USB printers can connect to to become network printers. Otherwise, he'd have to configure a computer to act as a print server and share it to the other systems. OP would have to edit his question with more details to know more, but to connect it to a router I assumed it had a cable that fit the router...although some SOHO routers may have a USB sharing port. I wouldn't trust them to last long, though. – Bart Silverstrim Jul 27 '11 at 22:51

A domain controller is not necessary to run a print server. This can be done with a member server, or even an end-user computer. DNS is also not necessary to make this happen as you can simply use the IP address.

If you printer allows it, I would recommend giving it a Static IP and making one computer serve the function of the print server. Install the drivers on that server / computer, share the printer and add it to the other machines. Just remember that this computer will need to remain on at all times you wish to use the printer.

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No need for DNS. You can just use the IP address. Also, there is definitely no reason to create a Windows domain for 6 computers! That would be overkill. You might want to purchase a router that can handle dynamic DNS and will register the printer's DNS name, because it will make it easier to use, but it's not necessary.

You asked if you can just plug the printer into the router. Well, that depends on your printer. You'd need a printer with an Ethernet card in it. If so, it likely has its own print processor hardware as well (such as HP's jetdirect) and can handle queuing jobs, etc. If not, you need to plug it into one of your computers and enable printer sharing. Again, this will work with Workgroup configuration, and there's no need to create a Windows domain to share a single printer.

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In the even that you do not have a network ready printer, you can purchase a print server. A print server typically has a simple Web server allowing you to quickly set up a permanent IP address. Check the range of addresses that your home router is using for DHCP and assign the print server an address that is NOT in that range. For example, my home router offers DHCP to computers in the house with numbers through as the default setting. Make the printer have a fixed IP like

Good luck.

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Basic Instructions for setting up a Network Printer:

-Give your Printer an IP address within your local subnet(refer to printer manual to do so. It needs to have a network card.)

-In windows 7 click Start > Printers and Devices > New Printer

-Select Add a local printer

-Select Create a new port > Standard TCP/IP port

-Put in IP address of printer

Hopefully at this point Windows will automatically detect the drivers needed for the printer. If not, you'll have to select them manually.

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Yes, you need to connect your printer to a print server for all of the computers to print to it.

If it is a "network ready" printer, with a built-in ethernet interface, then the print server is already embedded in the printer, and you can plug it in to your switch/hub/router.

If it's not a network ready printer, you can purchase a dedicated print server appliance (Linksys,D-link.Netgear,etc.), or connect your printer to a pc and configure it as the print server.

You may also check the specs for your router, as some are capable of acting directly as a print server.

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I see three easy options here:

-share the printer and put all your machines in the same workgroup. This has the advantage for you of needing to buy NOTHING ELSE but it has the disadvantage of requiring your pc which shares the printer to be booted and ready for jobs or all prints from your other machines will fail.

-usb to ethernet print server adapter can be used to take a usb printer and turn it into a network printer. You'll have to buy the adapter but by doing this method you do not need to keep the primary computer booted like you would if you had shared the printer.

-usb to wifi print server adapter can be used if you want to physically locate the printer central to the group of machines. Same basic principle as the lan style adapter except you'll need a working wifi network to attach your print server to. And it sounds like you already have one set up.

If I were doing this for my house I would use a print server adapter. You can't always guarantee that your main machine will be up when someone else needs to print.

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