Network PrintersYou’re shopping for new printers, and you’re very excited to find the solution that works for you. As you browse the options, though, you keep coming across one confounding description: local vs. network printers. What’s the difference? And how do you know which is right for your office? Here’s your simple guide.

Local vs. Network Printers: The Important Differences

Local printers are designed to connect right to a computer via a USB cable. They’re only accessible from a given workstation, and can only work with one computer at a time. These printers are great for home office use, for example, where you need to print things from your laptop occasionally. They don’t work well in an office setting, though, where the printer must be accessible from dozens of computers throughout a given workstation.

Today, most printers will automatically install their software onto a computer the first time they connect to said machine. This makes it easy to start using the local printer right out of the box. It also ensures that they’ll continue to be easy to use throughout their lifespan.

Network printers, on the other hand, are a bit different. These printers are a part of a network or group of machines that can all access the single printer at a given time. Network printers connect to a network server via an ethernet cable. They’re some of the best printers for offices.

Today, there are also wireless printers and copiers that don’t need a physical connection and can still work on a network. These wireless printers have become very popular in workstations, where they can connect to a network wirelessly and still be accessed by various computers throughout the office.

If you’re trying to decide if a network printer or a local printer is right for you, it’s essential to consider the context. The fact is, some businesses and work environments that are trying to save money will thrive with a local printer, while others will need a network printer. The decision comes down to access, workload, and the number of employees you have. If you need employees to be able to access a printer without a queue, a set of local printers is one option. In other cases, network printers work better, given the fact that they can serve the printing needs of an entire office all at once.

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What to Love About a Local Printer

As you make this decision, it’s helpful to have as much information as possible. With that in mind, here are a few things you must know about a local printer before you decide a network unit is right for you.

  • Reliable access. Local printers ensure a group of employees with various and diverse printing needs has access to a reliable printer. They’re also a great way to improve the efficiency of a project’s workflow. Because local printers work quickly, they allow you to assess accuracy, identify issues rapidly, and keep a project moving. Additionally, you can find local printers that are also laser scanners, for added convenience.
  • Simplicity. Local printers are familiar and easy to use for most people. Thanks to intelligent software, they install quickly on computers and are easy to work with even in a BYOD (bring your own device) workplace.
  • Cost. The cost of a local printer works differently than the costs of network printers. With localized printers, each employee needs their own printer. This does mean expenses can add up quickly. In these localized workplaces, maintenance teams need to buy and maintain multiple printers, as well as affording for the paper and toner for each printer. If a printer goes down, the user must find another one to replace it.

The Benefits of Network Printers

Network printers are a very different ball game than localized printers. They are flexible, efficient, and simple for employees in a given office to use. They can also work with multiple operating systems, from Windows to Mac and beyond. Network printers work for employees throughout an office space.

The downside to a network printer is the setup of the system. In an office with an onsite IT department, installation is usually speedy and secure. In some cases, you should know that network printers may cause delays, in the case when a printer is already in use. If the network goes down, a printer will also become inaccessible.

Are Network Printers Right for You?

As you can see, network printers off a whole host of benefits for offices and workspaces. If you’re still not sure whether network or cloud-ready local printers are ideal for you, talk to a local printer specialist to learn more. Our team is standing by and ready to answer any questions you may have, so go ahead and contact us today!