Print Driver Management: Nightmare or Piece of Cake?
Thu Apr 26, 2018 | Lasers Resource
What is one of the dreaded phrases to hear if you’re in IT? “The printer wont print.” Why? It’s vague, meaning you’ll have a long road ahead of you trying to figure it out. It could mean breaking out tools and opening the device, or it could mean that the driver is bad and you will need to spend time correcting it or creating yet another custom instance for another user; time that should be spent on other tasks that help drive your business forward. Someone once said, “Time equals money,” and that couldn’t be truer than with IT issues.
There is an HP study that states some interesting facts:
1. 50% of printing costs are from employees printing personal things.
2. 90% of business do not track print costs.
3. For every $1 spent on printing there is an additional $9 spent on managing it.
We cringe at everything on this list. Although allowing your employees to print the occasional photo or slow cooker recipe isn’t the worst thing you could do, we’re not saying to turn into a tyrant on personal printing, but 50%!? Anyway, it’s the other points from this study that are the real concern.
The fact that in the modern world of technology 90% of business still aren’t tracking their printing costs is almost unbelievable. But ask yourself – can you say for sure that you know all the figures around printing at your organization? The cost of every toner cartridge? How much it costs Gina to print those vacation pictures on the 3rd floor color printer?
The one that hits the hardest – for every $1 spent on printing (toner and supplies) there is another $9 spent on managing the print environment. This is largely on your IT or help desk staff, but it’s not their fault. Troubleshooting user problems, showing up on-site for repairs, and managing print drivers are all time consuming and not what you hired them to do.
Some of this $9 is attributed to how your print environment is configured. There are three main common ways that we see.
- A print server at every branch
- Centralized print servers
- Direct IP printing
Each way has some benefits as well as some setbacks.
Print Server at Every Branch
If you work at a company that has multiple branches, you may have a print server at each of those locations. This configuration keeps any failures to that branch and print traffic off the WAN.
The downside to this set up is that it is expensive to run and maintain multiple print servers. It is also incredibly time-consuming for you or your staff to troubleshoot, maintain and update that many devices. There is also a lot of scripting and GPOs that need to be applied in order to get the right drivers to the right people at the right time.
Centralized Print Server
One data center with one or more print servers can have the benefit of not being a large expense on your time and budget – less servers mean less work.
One print server location also means a lot of print traffic on your WAN and a single point of failure that can cripple your whole organization’s printing. On top of that, the same scripting and GPOs are still required to work properly.
Direct IP Printing
You can go the “no print server route” and apply direct IP printing at your business. This removes a lot of costs associated with implementing and maintaining a print server.
Although not having a print server is great, having to apply and update settings on every computer and workstation can negate, or even intensify, the strain on your IT team. No print server also means that any print issue will become a help desk call, whether it be installing a new printer or having to update settings.
In another post, "Drivers Driving you crazy? Get the Most Out of Your Print Drivers!", we gave some tips on how to get the most out of your printer and copier drivers and reduce some printing stress. Feel free to check it out here.
Though, anyone who has spent any time in the IT field knows the pain that comes with print drivers. I’m sure you have a war story or two yourself. Even just starting at 32 vs 64-bit is a struggle. Our friends at PrinterLogic have listed out the common problems with print driver management:
- Driver confusion and incompatibility (e.g., 32- and 64-bit)
- Poorly coded manufacturer drivers versus limited universal print driver functionality
- Difficulty rolling back buggy driver updates
- Print spooler crashes resulting from driver issues when using print servers
- Improper driver deployments due to software or user error
- Decreased performance from large driver repositories
- Additional printer driver management hassles with Citrix and VMware environments
Do you use a universal driver or device-specific? Updating drivers for each device can increase the time it takes to manage but also give your end-users more capabilities with their output; sort of a double edge sword. Your time and the cost associated with it are nine-fold more expensive than toner and maintenance on the printing devices.
You may have a managed print service (MPS) agreement with a provider, but are they only covering the $1 and not the $9 of printing costs?
There is a way to eliminate the print servers from your business while still maintaining the benefits that you get with them. In fact, it keeps the benefits of all three of the common print environments found today and adds even more. A company called PrinterLogic allows you to retire print servers, gives you centralized management over devices/settings/drivers, gives your end users the ability to easily install printers themselves and comes with a lot of other applications often requiring access via a third party.
Either cloud based or on premise, PrinterLogic can control a direct IP style printing environment from a secure web portal.
With PrinterLogic, your end users have access to a portal that shows all available printers, sometimes even on a map of your office. Installing a new printer is as easy as clicking on the desired device. Working with direct IP printing from this point on, it keeps print traffic off your WAN and removes failure points company or branch wide.
The admin side gives you a single portal to set rules and policies, update drivers, and manage your additional applications, including pull print and reporting., Instead of having to update drivers on each workstation or server, you apply the driver once within PrinterLogic and it will push to all workstations itself.
From a single web portal, it allows for:
- Centralized management
- Print job compression
- Print job auditing
- VDI/Remote session
- Release/pull/request printing
- SNMP monitoring
- Mobile printing
There are a lot of employees that bring their devices to work. Smartphones are in everyone’s pockets and personal tablets and computers are also seen everywhere you turn. I am writing this on my personal Surface Book while my personal Surface Pro 4 sits next to it displaying my notes with my cell phone charging comfortably in-between them. With the BYOD that is happening, it is incredibly easy to accommodate for it.
So, what does this mean for you? A solution like PrinterLogic can shift that $1 vs $9 of printing cost to a much more reasonable ratio. Your time working on print related issues can drastically decrease, allowing you more time to work on more pressing projects and reaching the next milestone in your company’s goal.
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