print server

Definition of print server in The Network Encyclopedia.

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What is Print Server?

A server that manages a printer on a network. The printer can be directly connected to a port on the print server (a local printer), or it can have its own built-in network interface card (NIC) and be connected directly to the network (a network printer). Clients that want to print jobs send them to the print server, which queues or spools the jobs and then sends them to the printer. Microsoft Windows NT Server is a good operating system for running a print server on your network.

Instead of dedicating a computer to managing a printer on a network, you can use a stand-alone print server device. These devices generally have a small footprint - some are even pocket-sized - and can be used to attach a printer anywhere in the network. Typically, an RJ-45 port on the device can be plugged directly into an Ethernet hub or into a wall plate in a work area, while an IEEE 1284 port on the device is connected to the printer.

Stand-alone print server devices generally have built-in support for a variety of protocols (such as TCP/IP, IPX/SPX, NetBEUI, and Data Link Control) and platforms (such as Windows 2000, Novell NetWare, and UNIX) and support a wide variety of makes and models of printers.

Other features of stand-alone print server devices can include the following:

  • Support for two or four parallel printer connections
  • Support for Line Printer Daemon/Line Printer Remote (LPD/LPR) or Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP)
  • Support for Token Ring or AppleTalk networking architectures