Sharing your printer on your home network

There are a number of approaches you can take to sharing your printer. You could physically plug it in to the USB port on your PC or laptop when you want to print, but this isn’t very practical. You could use the printer sharing feature in Windows XP, but this means you need to have two machines switched on any time you want to print; again this isn’t very practical but up to now it’s been the way I’ve done it.

As part of my current drive to reduce the clutter caused by the computer equipment in the house I decided to look into getting a print server so that the printer could be tucked somewhere out of the way (like under the coffee table behind the sofa) without us having to scrabble about for a USB lead when we decide to print. So, last week I ordered a reconditioned Netgear PS121 from digidave.

Netgear printserver in handThe unit is tiny! It has three ports, one for power one USB and one Ethernet. There are two status lights at the top of the unit. The unit came with a power supply and USB lead but no Ethernet cable which I thought was odd as people are more likely to have a USB lead for their printer than they are to have a network cable laying around.
Set up is a doddle; plug the USB lead from the printer into the print server then plug it in to the mains and connect it to your router with an Ethernet cable then toddle off and find a PC.

On the PC you install two bits of software; the first lets you see your print server on the network, the second shows you the printer connected to your server and gets you to select the right driver from a list. It really is very easy indeed. I was up and running printing over the wireless network on the first network in under ten minutes. It took me a bit longer on the second machine, I think this was because my VPN client was interfering with set up, but I soon sorted that out.

I think this is going to prove to be another extremely useful bit of kit.