Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Network Printing

In client-server networks, network printing is normally handled by a print server, a small box with at least two connectors: one for a printer, and another that attaches directly to the network cabling. Some print servers have more than two ports--they may, for example, support 2, 3, or 4 printers simultaneously.

When a user sends a print job, it travels over the network cabling to the file server where it is stored. When the print server senses that the job is waiting, it moves it from the file server to its attached printer. When the job is finished, the print server returns a result message to the file server, indicating that the process is complete.

Print Servers are available for both client-server and peer-to-peer networks. They're incredibly convenient because they let you put a printer anywhere along your network even if there isn't a computer nearby.

However, users often opt not to use a print-server with their peer-to-peer network. Why? Because every computer's resources are available to everyone on the network, Sally can print a job on John's printer--just as if Sally had a printer attached to her computer.

Remote access allows users to dial into their home networks from anywhere in the world. Once a connection has been established over ordinary phone lines by modem, users can access any programs or data on the network just as if they were seated at one of its local workstations. Some remote access servers only provide access to a file server's disk drives.

Others can provide access to both the file server and direct access to any PC's hard disk on the network. This saves time because it allows a remote user to communicate directly with any network user without having to go through the file server.

Modem sharing lets local network users dial out from their individual network computers to access the Internet, bulletin boards, America On-Line, and more. After firing up their favorite communications software, local users establish a link with the remote-node server over the network, which opens up an outgoing telephone line.

Users' individual PCs don't need modems, which is a big money saver--only a single modem & phone line are required for tens or hundreds of users. In the case of peer-to-peer networks, by contrast, every PC requires its own modem for access to the outside world.

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