There are several options available for setting up printers in your business. You can choose between local printers, which are connected directly to your computers, and network printers, which can be accessed by multiple computers on the same network.
To determine which printing setup is best for your business, consider your needs, understand each printing setup type, and weigh their respective pros and cons.
What is a local printer?
A local printer is a printer that's connected to one computer, usually via a USB cable, although some new models can connect wirelessly. Local printers are often smaller and less expensive than network printers, making them perfect for small businesses, home offices, or individual workstations. These printers are designed to cater to the needs of a single user, so they don't require any complicated setup process or additional hardware.
Advantages of local printers
- Simplicity – Local printers are incredibly easy to use. All you have to do is plug the device in, install the printer driver software, and start printing.
- Cost-effectiveness – You can save money in the short and long term by choosing local printers. They are the most affordable type of printer available and don't require any additional hardware or networking setup.
- Speed – Since the printer is connected directly to your computer, you don't have to worry about any potential network issues slowing down your printing jobs.
- Control – When you use a local printer, you have full control over how the device is used and who has access to it. This is especially important if you deal with sensitive documents.
Disadvantages of local printers
- Limited functionality – Local printers are designed for single-user environments and don't offer many of the features that network printing systems do. For example, they may lack advanced document sharing and security features.
- Limited accessibility – If you need to print from multiple computers, a local printer won't be able to provide the same level of convenience as a networked one. You'll have to manually connect each device to the printer and configure it accordingly.
- Maintenance and upgrades – Managing multiple local printers can be time-consuming and costly, as each device must be manually serviced and upgraded.
Related reading: Don’t overlook your business printers’ security
What is a network printer?
A network printer is a printer that's connected to a network and can be accessed by multiple users or devices. It is often shared among a group of people or deployed in offices where there is a need for centralized printing resources. Network printers offer more features and flexibility than local printers, but they also require a bit more technical know-how to set up and maintain.
Advantages of network printers
- Shared resources – Multiple users across the network can easily access network printers, which fosters collaboration and flexibility in the workplace.
- Enhanced functionality – Network printers often come equipped with advanced features such as scanning, copying, and faxing. They can be a comprehensive solution for all your document management needs.
- Centralized management – Printers that are connected to a network are usually managed through a central server, making it easy to monitor printer activity and address any issues.
- Security – Network printers offer various security measures such as user authentication and access controls. This can help protect sensitive documents from unauthorized access.
Disadvantages of network printers
- Initial cost – Setting up a network printer requires purchasing additional hardware and networking equipment.
- Complex setup – Network printers require proper network configuration and setup, including assigning IP addresses and ensuring compatibility with the existing network infrastructure. These may involve the assistance of IT specialists.
- Dependency on the network – Connectivity issues or network downtime can impact printing operations, which can be inconvenient.
Dedicated printer vs. shared printer: Which is the best choice?
Choosing between a dedicated local printer and a shared network printer depends on the specific needs of your business. Here are some factors to consider when making a decision:
If you have a small business or work in a home office environment, then a local printer is probably the best option. It is cheaper to buy and maintain and provides all the basic features you need.
On the other hand, if your business has multiple users who need to access a printer from different locations, then a shared network printer is ideal. The additional cost of purchasing and setting up the device may be worth it for its convenience and functionality.
If you're only printing a few pages every day, then a local printer should be more than sufficient. However, if you need to print large amounts of documents on a regular basis, then a network printer is the way to go.
If you need to print documents that require multiple people to work on, then a network printer is the obvious choice. It will allow everyone involved to access and edit the document without having to copy or transfer it from one device to another.
Selecting the right printing setup for your business requires a thorough consideration of your specific needs, budget, and workflow. While local printers may be more cost-effective, network printers can offer more features and flexibility. Consider your options before making a final decision to ensure you get the most out of your printers.
If you need assistance in selecting and implementing the ideal printing solution for your business, reach out to Complete Document Solutions. Our knowledgeable team can guide you through the process and help you find the most suitable printer for your needs.