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I am in a school with probably 200+ computers and I did an IP scan among a certain range and found three or four printers. I was wondering if it would be possible to find these printers in the school, either by using other computers around them and checking their IP address, and narrowing it down that way, or if there was a way to possible map the network using something like NMap, except I don't have the necessary privileges to install a portion of programs like that.

I was just curious as to whether this could be done, any help would be appreciated.

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What is the purpose behind this? :) – Tom Wijsman Aug 24 '11 at 16:28
Are you an admin trying to find printers installed without authorisation, or just someone who's curious (perhaps a student)? If the latter, tread carefully - running IP scans can be (and has been) construed as hacking, with suspensions and prosecution the consequence. – Bevan Aug 24 '11 at 19:08
From OP's other question: am at a school and am currently enrolled in the computer science, be careful how you tread. If one of my students tried this I'd be surprised (and impressed) but would quietly dissuade them. A school production enviroment is NOT the place to be mucking around. – tombull89 Aug 24 '11 at 19:16
Also, depending on the naming scheme of the school, you may be able to find out the name of the printer, which could include the name of the room (for example, HP2600-STAFFRM-1821). – tombull89 Aug 24 '11 at 19:17
up vote 2 down vote accepted

The answer is no, not really. An IP address alone isn't enough information to physically locate a device in a large campus.

While most network administrators are fairly organized, and assign IP addresses in ways that make sense, you can't count on it enough to be certain you can locate a device. (You can guess a device's location by things like its name or the fact that its IP is in the same range as, say, the computers in the art building, but that doesn't mean the printer isn't actually located in the science wing.)

And mapping software cannot give you an exact physical map of a network, either, only an approximate network layout.

If you need to know where a device is, the IP and name and number of hops are all very good clues, but none of them can tell you for certain exactly where the device is physically located. All the suggestions in this thread, though, give you great social engineering methods for finding a device without contacting the network administrator!

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I can't believe no one suggested this yet but check to see if the printer has a DNS name

ping -a

It may have a good DNS name like "ColorRoom203"

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Found lots of printers on both my high school and college networks by finding the printer names. Once walked into the middle of a teachers' meeting to get a printout from the only printer on at 7pm. Fun! – NickAldwin Aug 24 '11 at 20:33

Depends on the topology of the network.

My old school used a single subnet, and whilst they had static ips, they used 10.x.y.z where x was building, y was room, and z was machine/device.

If they do something similar, you may be in luck. If they however use DHCP, I don't think you stand a chance.

If you fancy some detective work, you can try to ping devices and test the latency from different rooms to narrow it down, but again, it depends on the network layout and to be honest, I doubt this will work.

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Exactly what I was gonna say. The whole point of IP addresses is location transparency, and unless intended, they don't reveal any physical location at all. – slhck Aug 24 '11 at 13:05
Send a print job and rush around, listening! Or send a rude poem or pic to a printer and wait for the Head to come to each classroom to demand (for example) "Who sent THIS to the printer in room G4?" – Linker3000 Aug 24 '11 at 13:06
@linker3000 nice! – William Hilsum Aug 24 '11 at 13:13
I wanted to post (this picture)[] as it sort of reminded me of that, but, based on the junk upvote complaints, I thought I better not include it! – William Hilsum Aug 24 '11 at 13:16
Try printing a document "Printer service required. Call 123-456-7890 for assistance." then when they call ask what room the printer is in and "schedule" a service call. – Chris Nava Aug 24 '11 at 14:45

Easiest solution. Print out a page (and use a big font) that says:

Hi there!

I'm a student at Institution, and I'm trying to find this printer. Would you mind calling me at 515-555-1234 (or emailing me at and letting me know where it is?


Your Full Name

Architecture 2003

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That's fun! I always overlook non-technical answers, which are often easier. – Andrew Neely Aug 24 '11 at 20:06
Ha... Ha... Ha... – Evil Angel Sep 1 '11 at 8:41

The easiest to find out printer location from IP-address is to ask the systems administrator who set them up, she'll have records that show location.

You say you don't have privileges to install software, this implies you don't have privileges to send SNMP queries to smart ethernet switches about port-assocations for MAC addresses associated with IP-addresses (in your local ARP table - see arp -a). That might be useful if you had a wiring map.

You could walk through the entire school and get each printer to display or print it's configuration page - printers with embedded NICs will normally include their IP-address in such pages. If printers are attached using HP JetDirect boxes, holding the button down on those makes them print that info. For other makes of "print-server" box (old skool meaning) you might not be able to do this directly.

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Social Engineering is the best way to get information that you should or should not have. – Lightly Salted Aug 24 '11 at 17:21

You should definitely try a trace route, it's called tracert in Windows for IPv4.

enter image description here

Find each router/hop along the path and you'll eventually find the printer!

You're getting closer when a trace route results in less hops and latency...

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It's unlikely that you'll have more than one router in a school. Even my university had one router that all academic/residential related connections went though. – user606723 Aug 24 '11 at 18:35
@user606723: Erm... Sounds like they like a single point of failure. :) – Tom Wijsman Aug 24 '11 at 18:41
Maybe.. Now that I think about it, there are better ways of doing it. Now, with 200+ computers? not likely. – user606723 Aug 24 '11 at 18:56
I think most schools would have more than one router in between you and anything of interest. You must have gone to a small school. :) Heck, the route between my laptop and my workstation is 7 hops in the small (< 30 people) office where I work. I could easily go more hops than that on the University where I was a sysadmin many moons ago. Of course, finding which router serves the printer's network leaves you with the question of "where's the router," but this is still probably your best bet for getting some idea. – wrosecrans Aug 25 '11 at 2:02
@wrosecrans: Yeah, and that question is a matter of following cables or using a wireless tool to figure out how close you are to the wireless printer... – Tom Wijsman Aug 25 '11 at 2:04

This really depends on the hardware that you are using. For starters, some printers are SNMP capable and allow you to set the sysLocation value. This is good as long as no one moves a printer on you. You could also embed the location as a comment in the switch port config. This is good as long as you can determine switch port from IP/MAC and the device is not moved. Labelling both ends of all cables also helps. As a purely non-technical solution, you could name the print queues after their location, ie BLDG_FLR_RM_Name.

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From a university's/telco's point of view, they typically have ways to figuring out which port of which switch a device is connected to.

Using this with a record of switch locations, they can find the physical location of any device on their network.

I had a friend who used to work for the telco, and was able to figure out where his friends were located by locating the Access Point they were wirelessly connected to.

I also asked him to look up the dorm room number of a certain IP address I was "interested" in. I wrote a message on the guys white board =).

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