How can I share a printer between multiple computers?
Those who have multiple computers in their home or workplace may want to share a printer for convenience or cost efficiency. This document contains different ways you may make a printer available to multiple computers using various methods. Before you share a printer on a network, you should decide what configuration you'd like to go with. Below are the different setups and their advantages and disadvantages.
Many of today's printers (often middle to high-end ones) have the capability of connecting directly to a user's network. This attribute gives these printers the distinct advantage of ease of use as they are the simplest to set up and detect. In, fact from Windows Vista onward, printers with wireless capabilities are more or less Plug-and-Play; detectable by a node computer's word processor or Internet browser. The only downside to this configuration is that it requires a wireless network to be setup.
Printer connected to computer or server
The most common solution for distributing a printer (because of the ease and price) is to connect it to a host computer. Essentially, the host computer "shares" the printer by allowing other computers on the network to print through it over a Local Area Network or Internet connection. The primary disadvantage of this method is that the host computer must always be on in order for other machines to use the printer. In order to print through another machine on your network, you must already have a network setup at your home as well as a printer installed on the host computer.
Dedicated print server
Another option is a hardware device called a print server. Print servers enable you to connect a small appliance to your network that delegates and queues print jobs for multiple machines. They have the advantage of being able to be used when the main computer connected to your printer is turned off (network printer setup), but the disadvantage of added cost in addition to setup time.