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What’s a Print Server? An Explainer

Even though there has been broad acceptance of paperless processes in the business world, the result is only the reduction of paper usage, not its elimination. There are still many occasions when employees need to create hard copies of digital documents. Without the proper planning and the appropriate tools in place, an office's pool of printers can quickly become one of the biggest sources of headaches, bottlenecks and lost productivity within a business.

There are still many occasions when employees need to create hard copies of digital documents.

Print servers exist to help manage a heavy volume of print requests and ensure that your employees gets their hard copies promptly. Advanced solutions for print management serve to integrate these systems with intelligent automation opportunities and can ultimately be a critical element of preparing a business for the future. So, what is a print server and what advantages and disadvantages do they typically have? In this blog, we'll answer these questions while looking at the following topics:

Print Servers Explained

It may seem surprising, but the basic technology powering printers has changed little over the years. Computers communicate with printers by sending the document's data to be printed straight to the device itself. The device must then interpret this data and translate it into a form the printer can use to create the actual hard copy. Because this is the intensive use of processing power, devices often become slow or unreliable when faced with high volumes of work. Print servers aim to solve this problem.

How a print server works is a pretty straightforward process. They may be either a software or a separate, physical server with enough processing power to handle a high volume of requests. The server connects with computers over a network and allows them to communicate with available printers. The print server helps printers avoid overloads. It queues print jobs and manages their distribution to devices to ensure orderly operation and to avoid overloading printer hardware. And with advanced solutions, this software can also exercise more control over where, how and who gets to use devices to create hard copies.

The Key Advantages of a Print Server

Why use a print server? Most businesses that deploy more than a few different print and capture devices in their offices use a server. There are many advantages to deploying a cloud-based or on-premise print server that aren't available with basic OS-level print functionalities. Across industries, this vital element of technology ensures teams don't waste time waiting for print jobs. The reasons so many organizations set up this technology include:

  • Centralized control of print operations makes it easier to monitor printer health, carry out software updates and prevent bottlenecks centered around the printing process.
  • Printing permissions are easily defined for making devices available to specific staff for secure printing purposes.
  • Print servers are highly cost-effective investments that often display an appreciable ROI when well-run and configured with the latest advances.
  • Servers reduce the burden on the IT team members who must field troubleshooting calls. End users have a better, smoother printing experience.

What’s the Alternative to Using a Print Server?

Without a print server to organize requests, users typically use a process known as "direct IP" printing. In direct printing, a user chooses a specific device and sends the job directly over the network to the printer. While this option typically works acceptably well in low-volume environments, it buckles under strain as you scale. With multiple employees trying to send large, multi-page files to a printer, it can quickly clog the queue and even cause the printer to crash.

In modern offices filled with potentially hundreds of MFDs or more, direct IP printing and even built-in print server solutions can buckle under the strain. Bottlenecks develop and the printing process becomes siloed from other operations. Improving your print architecture and streamlining it for the future demands a solution that incorporates the modern print server function and intelligent automation.

With Kofax ControlSuite, businesses can take complete control of their document processes, introducing elements of automation from the capture stage all the way to securely printing back to hard copy. With an array of tools designed to equip organizations with highly customizable document intelligence, it is an essential tool for any business. You can learn more about ControlSuite here.

The Future of Print Server Operations

With tools such as ControlSuite available to help businesses transform their approach to handling printing requests, what kinds of improvements in operations and cost-effectiveness are possible? There are three major areas to consider as new tools drive the future of the economy.

Document Intelligence Has a Major Role To Play

A print server with advanced capabilities does more than route jobs—it can ensure that jobs only go to the printer if the organization allows it to happen. These solutions all but eliminate problems related to users printing unauthorized documents due to poorly-configured group settings or a lack of them altogether. With content-aware tools that can intelligently classify documents based on their content, organizations can automate this critical oversight task while also logging every print action across the entire network.

Improving Print Security for Organizations

With software such as ControlSuite, businesses can make print servers a vital link in their security setup, too. Instead of only managing how many jobs go to a printer, newer servers can hold documents in secure storage until a user authenticates them directly at the device. This print-to-me functionality reduces opportunities for abandoned documents and keeps prying eyes away.

Choose Future-Proof Print Solutions For Success

Although easy to overlook, print servers provide a critical link between users and your company's MFD architecture. With ballooning complexity and no real decline in the demand for printed papers within the office, these systems can quickly spiral out of control with messy integration and poor oversight. Modern solutions like ControlSuite go beyond the basic print server function to deliver the high-level control and security demanded by businesses today.

With intelligent automation rapidly expanding into this space, now is the time to explore fresh opportunities. By deploying new tools, you can improve employee experiences, reduce overhead and enhance security all at once.

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