printing terminology

Definition of printing terminology in The Network Encyclopedia.

What is Printing Terminology?

In Microsoft Windows, the following are printing-related terms:

  • Print device:
    A hardware device that produces printed output, such as a LaserJet, ink-jet, or dot-matrix print device. Most people loosely refer to these devices as “printers,” but the term “printer” has a specific meaning in the Windows operating system, as described below.


  • Printer:
    A software interface installed on a Windows computer that allows users and applications to print to a print device. Microsoft uses the term “print device” to refer to the actual hardware device; “printer” refers to the software interface that controls that device. To create a printer, you use the Add Printer Wizard in the Printers folder.


  • Print server:
    A computer with which a print device is associated. A print server receives print jobs from clients and sends them to the print device.


  • Printer driver:
    A series of files that convert printing commands into machine-specific language for sending them to a print device. Each model and make of print device has its own specific printer driver.



Print devices can be further subdivided into two types:

  • Local print device:
    A print device that is locally attached to the parallel or serial port on the print server. If a local print device is being used only on the local machine, its software interface is called a “local printer.” If a local print device is shared, clients can access it over the network and its software interface is called a “network printer” from the perspective of the clients.


  • Network-interface print device:
    A print device that has its own built-in network interface card (NIC) and can be plugged into the network anywhere that a local area network (LAN) drop is free. A network-interface print device is not connected directly to the print server; it is managed remotely by the print server.



Keep network-interface print devices on the same network or subnet as their print server to minimize the extra network traffic. Be sure that your print server has sufficient RAM for processing documents and sufficient disk space for spooling print jobs. Dedicating a computer to the role of print server is usually recommended, especially if that computer will manage several print devices.