Frequently Asked Questions
For technical issues please see our ever-growing knowledge base.
For questions about purchasing, sales or ordering please see our Purchasing FAQ.
What is PaperCut and how does it work?
That is a complex question for an FAQ! Here is the abridged summary:
PaperCut works by intercepting print jobs as they pass into a print queue. It watches the queues and extracts job information such as page counts and uses this to implement logging, charging, control, quotas or reporting or a combination of all. Typically PaperCut is installed on a server. The administrator installs the printers on the server then shares them over the network (i.e. a shared print queue). The other systems on the network (workstations) print to these shared queues. PaperCut however can also monitor locally attached desktop printers or even work on standalone or peer-to-peer networks.
What is a print server and do I need one?
A print server is a system that hosts and shared print queues. A print server is not necessarily a dedicated server. On most networks an existing server such as a file server or domain controller will satisfy this role. A desktop system may also act as a print server on small networks. PaperCut will work on Windows, Mac or Linux servers.
Do I need to restart during/after install?
No. We have done our best to ensure that PaperCut follows best practices. All PaperCut editions on all platforms do NOT require a reboot during install. The same also applies when applying future upgrades.
I'd like to evaluate PaperCut but am concerned about installing it on a production server?
First of all, it is great to see that you are a smart administrator! We are a technically focused company and love working with people who have a passion about technology and more importantly a passion to ensure that "it works"!
PaperCut is a well tested application deployed cross tens-of-thousands of organizations. It should never "crash" your system, but it is possible to configure it incorrectly and have it accidentally deny user printing unexpectedly. Hence it is worth taking some time to consider this on larger networks. Here are some risk mitigation options:
PaperCut will function on standalone system. Installing PaperCut on a desktop system such as XP Pro, Vista, or Mac OS X Workstation is a good way to get a general "feel" for PaperCut. Just set up a few local printers for testing and experiment with the PaperCut features.
Smaller Networks (less than 5000 users):
- Deploy on your server with care, but do so armed with the knowledge of how you can disable PaperCut if you hit any unforeseen problems. PaperCut can quickly be disabled by manually stopping system services (or uninstalling).
- Conduct your installation during a period of low activity.
- The implementation guide found on the download page discusses some project management aspects associated with deployment.
Larger Networks (more than 5000 users):
- If you have a test server or test environment, consider deploying PaperCut on here first.
- Consider using server virtualization products such as VMware or Virtual Server and running PaperCut in a VM for initial testing/review before deploying on bare metal or in production.
- Do not hesitate to contact our support team if you wish to discuss any specific questions.
Is the Mac/Linux version a "poor cousin" port of the Windows version?
The current versions of PaperCut were written from scratch to be cross-platform and support all major operating systems. Back in 2005 we started afresh, putting aside the current Windows-only code base and started over again. This represented a huge investment, but the end result is that all platforms share a common code base and have an identical feature set. We follow a similar development philosophy to major cross-platform projects such as Firefox, and synchronize platform releases. This ensures that one platform is never left behind.
PaperCut screen-shots show a "$" currency symbol. My country uses a different symbol.
PaperCut fetches the currency format from the Operating System's "locale" settings. The region can also be manually overridden if required.
What edition of PaperCut do I need?
But I don't want to "charge" my users?
PaperCut is a flexible solution and can be deployed with a number of configurations ranging from "silent monitoring" through to a full user-pays environment. Most organizations do not use PaperCut to "charge" their users. In an education-based organization, PaperCut is more often used to restrict users to a sensible quota/budget - for example $5.00 a week. In business, PaperCut can be installed in a "silent logging" mode, enabling the tracking of statistics, or billing to accounts/departments.
Will PaperCut save me money?
PaperCut provides a comprehensive solution for monitoring and controlling printer usage. Our customers find that they save between 20% and 50% of their paper and toner budget after implementing PaperCut. These savings add up quickly. PaperCut usually pay for itself within just a few months.
To see how much you can save, try our online Return on Investment (ROI) calculator.
My users log in using a generic user account? Do I need to set up user accounts?
To track printing at an individual user level, each user will require an account in PaperCut. Usually accounts are automatically sourced from your existing user directory such as LDAP, Active Directory, OpenDirectory or eDirectory. PaperCut also has support for internal user accounts. Internal accounts are ideal for guest users, or on small networks where an external user directory may not be appropriate. PaperCut is able to support generic logins but still log at the individual user level by using client software and popup authentication.
Can I install PaperCut on a single standalone system or on a peer-to-peer network?
Yes. The system hosting PaperCut however will need to be a compatible OS (see system requirements). In fact, if you have less than 5 users using the system, you can use PaperCut for free! In a domain environment, you'll set up user accounts in the domain. In a peer-to-peer network, you'll set up the user accounts on the local system hosting PaperCut.
Are there yearly support or maintenance fees? What are the ongoing costs?
We do not charge a mandatory annual fee. Licenses are indefinite - once you have licensed PaperCut you can run that version for ever. Free email support is included with every license and we also have a generous upgrade policy, where minor point releases are free (e.g. 10.0 to 10.2).
About once every 12 to 18 months, we release a major version upgrade. Customers have a few options in terms of upgrades:
- Continue to run the current version (Yes. We still have customers running the 9 year old version 1 release, and we continue to support them!)
- Purchase an upgrade. The upgrade fees are always between 20% and 30% of the new license price.
- Subscribe to premium upgrade assurance.
Premium upgrade assurance is purchased in 12-month blocks and provides a few benefits such as access to all upgrades at no cost, priority support, and phone support. Organizations that like to stay with the most recent version, or like to be able to budget for upgrades in advance should consider upgrade assurance. Most larger education organizations over 2000 users, or businesses over 200 users opt for upgrade assurance as total cost of ownership is lower. Read more about premium upgrade assurance.
Very large organizations such as Universities or Corporate that require extra-special support such as 24-hour coverage should contact our development team for options.
One last point: Upgrading is always optional. We continue to support older versions - even version 1.0 from 1998!
Why do you license based on users and not per-server?
We are aware that some of our competitors offer per-server licenses. We however see a few problems with server licenses:
- It encourages overloading of servers.
- Forces organizations to restructure their network just to save costs.
- Discourages use of modern system designs such as clustering and server virtualization.
- Discourages best practice such as duplicate test environments or backup servers.
- It produces a pricing model that is not reflective of an organization's budget.
PaperCut is a true enterprise-wide license. There are no limits on the number of servers, printers, locally attached printers, workstations, domains, clusters, or physical sites. It's up to you to define how you use the software and run your network.
We are aware that in some situations, per-server licensing may be cheaper, but we're confident that users see through this and appreciate the flexibility we offer and the future benefits this will provide.
What hardware is recommended/supported?
For more information, see the product system requirements:
Are locally connected desktop printers (peer printers) supported?
Yes. PaperCut was specifically designed to allow organizations to have any number of systems hosting printers. Where possible we recommend network printers centralized on print servers as this simplifies management. All that is required to track local printing (e.g. a USB printer) is to install the light-weight print monitoring service on the workstation (about 350k). To do this run the installer and select the "Secondary print server" option when prompted. More information here. This is included as standard with the license. There is no extra cost.
Which printers are supported?
PaperCut works with the majority of printers including printers supporting:
- PCL (all versions)
- Epson languages ESC/P2, ESC/PAGE and ESC/PAGE-COLOR
- Ricoh RPCS
- Many proprietary GDI printers from the links of Lexmark, Brother, Panasonic, HP, Xerox, QMS, Samsung and others.
You can find more information on specific models and manufactures in our knowledge base on the supported printers page.
Will PaperCut slow printing?
Users will experience no noticeable slowing of normal print jobs. Very large jobs may experience a few seconds delay as the job spools to the print server.
Does PaperCut support different charging prices for color, duplex and different page size printing?
Yes. PaperCut supports a variety of charging techniques, including charging by specific page size (with different color and grayscale rates), page area charging, page size category charging, and discounts for duplex printing to encourage paper conservation.
PaperCut also supports page-level color detection. With this feature, PaperCut "looks" into the document searching for use of color. This ensures that users are only charged the color rate for pages that use color.
I only want to monitor or charge a small number of users on my domain. Do I have to buy a license that supports all users?
The license is based on the number of user logon accounts registered with the system - usually the same number of login accounts on your domain. PaperCut periodically checks the number of users in its database and will prompt you if you exceed your license.
If you only intend to monitor a small percentage of your users, you can import the users from a network group that contains a subset of your users. This is discussed in the knowledge base here.
Our legal department would like to make some changes to your End User License Agreement (EULA). Is that OK?
Unfortunately, within PaperCut's current price structure, we're unable to make any changes to our EULA. If you consider our pricing model and the costs of creating and managing individual agreements with each of our customers, you can begin to understand our position (lawyers are expensive!). Maintaining a standard EULA with all of our customers allows us to focus our resources on meeting our obligations under these agreements. Do keep in mind of course that our EULAs have been very carefully authored to be fair to both you and us. Still concerned? Get in touch and we can discuss.
We get a number of questions on PaperCut's pricing. We price PaperCut based on the number of network users, as we feel that this factor is a fair reflection of an organization's IT budget. It ensures that organizations of all sizes can afford PaperCut. The education discount is also extended to non-profit and government training organizations. If you're unsure of your eligibility, please email sales with your circumstances.
Another common questions we get is, "How can you price PaperCut so low (often costing less that US$1.00 per user), while other network/site-wide applications cost far more?" We managed to keep costs low in a number of ways. The main contributor is that we prefer not to distribute our application via retail, marketing, or reseller networks. When you purchase PaperCut, you are buying the software directly from the original developers. There is no retail mark-up. The persons responsible for purchasing PaperCut are more than often IT managers or network administrators. For these people, purchasing software online direct from the developers is not a foreign concept, but is often preferred. We also accept Purchase Orders and Invoice from most world regions.
By reducing wasted paper and toner, PaperCut usually pays for itself in just a few months. See how much you can save using the online ROI calculator.
As you'll see from the testimonials, support is one of our best features. One of the most frustrating aspects of IT support today is that many organizations "outsource" it. You contact the company only to be greeted by someone who is obviously trained to just say "sorry, that's too difficult and will need to be elevated to another team". Two weeks later you get the answer you're after! This is not the case at PaperCut Software. We're a small technically-focused company and have made a decision that the developers themselves should do support. This offers a number of advantages to you and us:
- You get the correct answer first time. No buck passing, no question is too hard.
- We, as developers, benefit from direct contact with our users. This open channel helps us turn your ideas into features faster (or your bugs into fixes faster!).
The downside to this approach however is that it's difficult for us to provide 24-hour round the clock support (yes. Developers do occasionally sleep!). In 2008 we analyzed our support both statistically and by surveying our customers. Here is a summary:
- Even though our support load has doubled year-on-end matching our sales growth, our response time on email support have not increased. It's currently averages under 4 hours during week days. Here are some graphs (generated March 2008):
- The vast majority of customers, when asked to help us allocate future resources ranked new features over support.
- Accuracy and correctness was ranked more important than response time.
- Users would like a choice of support levels (e.g. many customers were very happy with current support and would not like to be forced into paying an annual support fee).
- 24-hour support was ranked as a medium level priority for very large customers.
Here is what we've done as a result of the analysis:
- Introduced three levels of support. Free email support to all customers, a premium upgrade assurance option available to all, and the option of per-incident 24-hour support to selected large sites.
- Opened up a number of new contact options including, live text web chat, US and international phone numbers and a Skype VOIP contact.
- In late 2008 we expanded our support operation to an office in Portland, Oregon, USA to ensure that we have business hours overlap with most time-zones. Check the contact page for our new hours of support coverage.
- A commitment not to charge a mandatory annual fee, and to continue with direct-developer support.
We believe that the most important part of our support is our honest approach. We do not cover up bugs, we do not buck-pass, and we do not try and pretend to be a larger company than we are. We are open, we maintain a blog, and we do not outsource our support!
Feel free shoot us an email or catch us on live help if you would like to chat further and test us out!
Why have you made the source code available?
The software industry has seen many changes over the past 10 years. One significant change has been the growing popularity and preference for open source software. Many leading companies and software projects make their source code available to their user base. These include major open source projects such as Linux, Apache, OpenOffice and Java. Proprietary software companies such as Microsoft and Sun also now make their source code available as a way to prove quality and ensure 3rd party integration and compatibility. We are keen to see PaperCut Software keep up with the expectations of our users.
As a company we also support open source programs and try to integrate with them as much as possible. Examples include integration with the CUPS print system on Apple Mac and Linux, and integration with the popular Squid proxy server.
As a software company we believe we follow development best practice. Now you can see this with your own eyes! We are able to provide review and research (non-reuse) access to about 90% of our code base (with 10% restricted due to 3rd party NDA).
What if my question isn't answered here?
Many common questions are answered in our knowledge base, and we recommend you look for an answer there.
If you can't find the answer in the knowledge base, we're happy to answer your questions by email or to chat online. You can find our details on the contact page.
Finding a way to control and monitor the printing of over 1500 users in a multi-device school environment is a nightmare... or at least was until we discovered PaperCut a number of years ago... and we have never looked back. The ease of configuration, integration with Active Directory and the cross-platform nature became especially important this year when our Windows/Mac environment was joined by 500 iPads as well - we love it!