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Print Servers vs Direct IP Printing

print servers vs direct ip printingWhen dealing with network printers there is a fundamental question that every System Administrator needs to answer and that is in what fashion will printing be enabled for client computers; by using a print server or direct IP printing? This article will help with answering this question by describing these two print service methods and listing some of their pros and cons.

Direct IP Printing

Direct IP Printing is when a user’s workstation is configured with a print setup where the queue is added on the workstation and points directly to the printer’s IP address or hostname. Under this configuration, the workstation becomes the “print server” and is responsible for all aspects of the printing from drivers to configuration to spooling, etc… This method is popular with smaller organizations where there often is no real server, but is sometimes seen in larger organizations as well.


  • Simple in concept, each computer maintains its own print queue, driver and connection information to the printer
  • Minimal cost to implement
  • Each client maintains complete control of their printer and print jobs
  • Allows for network connected printing when no server available


  • Decentralized administration for the System Administrator
  • Increased training for end users, if they will be responsible for printer setup rather than the System Administrator
  • Lack of job prioritization can lead to print device contention as multiple users submit print jobs at the same time and must wait for other jobs to finish first
  • No easy way for end users to “see all the jobs” and their place in line when printers are being used by multiple users
  • Printer configuration changes (IP, hostname, etc..) require updates to multiple clients to maintain printing services
  • Driver version control amongst clients more difficult

Print Server

A print server setup is when a server(s) is configured for each printer and shares them with clients to enable printing. The client connects to the server for the driver, configuration information and when printing the client sends the job to the server for spooling. The server is then responsible for connecting to the printer, processing and printing the job.


  • Centralized management, monitoring and security of print queues
  • “Point and print” (e.g. automatic printer setup for clients)
  • Allows for driver administration, default preference configuration and version upgrades being automatically deployed to clients
  • Faster print spooling and server side processing of printing which frees up client resources
  • Auditing and tracking capabilities
  • Server clustering capabilities and device “pooling” provides failover capabilities
  • Minimizes traffic to/from printer itself since only the server communicates with the printer
  • Allows for print devices to be on alternate subnet for increased security
  • Allows for setting print queue to be set “offline” for maintenance and end user notification


  • Requires more overall administration
  • More costly due to required server hardware and licensing

These are just some of the things the System Administrator needs to consider when deciding what method will work best for their environment. Flo-Tech can help with deciding, call your sales representative to setup a consultation with our Customer IT Support Staff.

To learn more about Best Practices for Next Generation MFP Management, click here:

next gen multi-function printer management