SOHO Multifunction Devices | CompTIA A+ 220-1001 | 3.10

In this video you will learn about SOHO multifunction devices/printers and their settings.

A small office/home office (SOHO) is an IT term that refers to home offices, small business offices and even remote office environments. A multifunction device is a device containing some functional combination of a scanner, printer, copier, and fax capabilities. These devices usually cost less and occupy less space than the individual elements that comprise the device, although multifunction devices cannot match the performance of a dedicated device for each individual element.

Configuring a Printer or Multifunction Device

Before you can print to a standard printer or multifunction device, you must have the appropriate print drivers installed that match the specific model of the device. In addition, you also have to ensure you have the correct print driver that works with the correct operating system and operating system version.

Standard configuration options for printers or multifunction devices include:

  • Duplex (double-sided) printing:  A feature that allows the printing of a sheet of paper on both sides automatically. Print devices without this capability can only print on a single side of paper (single-sided printing).
  • Collate Settings: This feature is used when printing 2 or more copies of a document that has 2 or more pages. For example, you have a document is 4 pages long and you want to print 4 copies of this document, if the collate feature is selected, the document would print pages 1, 2, 3, & 4 of the first copy of the document before printing off the second copy of the document, and so on. This feature is useful for binding, stapling, or punching documents, but it is much slower than uncollated print jobs.
  • Orientation:  Page orientation is the direction in which a document is displayed or printed. The two basic types of page orientation are portrait (long side up or vertical) and landscape (short side up or horizontal).
  • Print Quality:  Refers to the quality of the hard copy or printout produced by a printer. There are many factors that determine the level of the quality but overall, it has to do with the accuracy of the reproduction of the source material, which is influenced by the quality and type of paper used in addition to the specifications of the printer such as DPI (dots per inch), the print-head capability and the quality of the ink/toner being utilized.

Device Sharing Options

Printer and multifunction devices can be shared between two or more computers by using USB, Serial (RS-232), or Ethernet. Serial and USB printer sharing involves utilizing switch boxes that can be manually or automatically switched between devices, but serial & USB are limited by relatively short cable runs and a lack of management capabilities.  Most wired printer/multifunction devices share by way of Ethernet.

Integrated Ethernet Print/Multifunction Device Sharing

Configuring a modern printer/multifunction device for sharing across an Ethernet network:

  1. Connect the printer/multifunction device to network via an Ethernet (RJ-45) cable.
  2. Configure the printer/multifunction device to use Ethernet.
  3. Give the printer a name so it can be located on the network.
  4. Specify whether the printer/multifunction device will get an IP address from a DHCP router.
  5. If you need to configure the printer’s/multifunction’s device’s IP address manually, assign the device an IP address that is not in use by the DHCP.
  6. Record the configuration information.  Some printers/multifunction devices might print out this information after the setup process is complete.

To print to a network printer/multifunction device, a network printer/multifunction driver may need to be installed instead of the standard print driver.

Wireless Sharing: Bluetooth

To print via Bluetooth capabilities on a printer or multifunction device, both the computer (or mobile device) and the printer/multifunction device must have Bluetooth transceivers. After enabling Bluetooth on the printer and computer, you must configure both for pairing and pair them before print jobs can be sent. If a computer doesn’t have built-in Bluetooth capabilities, a USB dongle can be added to the device to provide Bluetooth support.

Wireless Sharing: 802.11 (a, b, g, n, ac)

Most new printer/multifunction devices support 802.11 (WiFi) standards.  The configuration process is similar to that used for wired Ethernet, with the added step of identifying the SSID of the wireless network and the encryption key (if used).  After the configuration is complete, all devices on the network with the proper print driver can use the multifunction device.

Wireless Sharing: Infrastructure vs. Ad Hoc

A wireless ad hoc network is a decentralized type of wireless network. The network is ad hoc because it does not rely on a preexisting infrastructure, such as routers in wired networks or access points in managed (infrastructure) wireless networks. In ad hoc mode, each device is connected directly to other devices. If you want to use WiFi printers/multifunction devices but don’t use WiFi networking with a wireless router, configure the printers/devices to work in ad hoc mode.

Infrastructure mode supports WPA2 encryption, while ad hoc mode supports only WEP encryption, making it unsuitable for secure networking.

Cloud and Remote Printing

Cloud printing allows for you to print from any web-connected device routing print jobs between your computer, smartphone or tablet and sends them to an internet connected printer.

Remote printing is a functionality in which a computer can be used with a remote printer. Remote printer lets users use their printer for printing documents saved on the remote computer they are accessing. Similarly, they can use the host computer to print to the remote printer.

Cloud and remote printing require the following:

  • A printer/multifunction device that can be accessed from the cloud or remotely via the web.
  • An app that supports remote or cloud printing.  The printer settings are loaded into the app, and the cloud-based document is downloaded and printed from the mobile device.

Using Public and Shared Devices

Public cloud printing allows users to submit print jobs via email, web interfacing, mobile apps, or special print drivers. To receive the print job from the printer, the user must provide the credentials needed, such as a retrieval code or account code. Google Cloud Print is an example of such service. Google Cloud Print is a Google service that lets user print from any Cloud Print-aware application (web, desktop, mobile) on any device in the network cloud to any printer with native support for connecting to cloud print services — without Google having to create and maintain printing subsystems for all the hardware combinations of client devices and printers, and without the users having to install device drivers to the client, but with documents being fully transmitted to Google.

AirPrint is a feature in Apple’s macOS and iOS operating system for printing via WiFi, either directly to AirPrint compatible printers, or to non-compatible shared printers by way of a computer running Microsoft Windows, Linux, or macOS. AirPrint does not require printer-specific drivers. AirPrint uses software called Bonjour, which comes built into macOS and iOS systems.  Bonjour finds the AirPrint printer, and the document can be sent.  Bonjour is also available for Windows 8 and 10, and a user with Bonjour installed on a Windows machine can print to an AirPrint-enabled printer.

Maintaining Data Privacy

When a document is sent to a computer, a special print file is created by the print spooler.  To prevent unauthorized users from opening the print file and extracting information from it, two methods can be used:  user authentication and hard drive caching.

User Authentication

User authentication matches print jobs to the IP address of the computer or device requesting the print job and can be enabled at the printer itself or by security settings used on Active Directory-enabled networks. When user authentication is enabled in the printer, the user must provide the appropriate identification during the print process.

Using Hard Drive Caching

In computing, spooling is a specialized form of multi-programming for the purpose of copying data between different devices. In contemporary systems, it is usually used for mediating between a computer application and a slow peripheral, such as a printer. Spooling allows programs to “hand off” work to be done by the peripheral and then proceed to other tasks, or to not begin until input has been transcribed. A dedicated program (the spooler) maintains an orderly sequence of jobs for the peripheral and feeds it data at its own rate. The most common use of spooling is printing: documents formatted for printing are stored in a queue at the speed of the computer, then retrieved and printed at the speed of the printer. In Windows, print spool files are stored on the system hard drive at C:\Windows\system32\spool\PRINTERS.

The default location of the print spool files can be changed by selecting the printer/multifunction device in Devices and Printers, opening the Print Server properties dialog, clicking Advanced, clicking Change Advanced Settings, and specifying a different location.