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How to Print From the Cloud

Think back to the first time you used a printer. It was probably connected to your computer via one of those old-school, 36-pin printer cables. It was slow and cumbersome, and only the computer hooked up to the printer could actually, you know, print stuff. That was the old world. The new world is cloud printing and remote printing: a wild frontier where authorized users can (more or less) print anything from anywhere.

Cloud printing is the natural evolution of the commercial print landscape, as more and more businesses migrate key services to the cloud. Why restrict your printing to physical cables and hardware? Why not print from any device, to any printer on the network, from wherever you happen to be?

With remote work surging post-COVID, cloud printing solutions aren’t just a nice-to-have. They’re a key part of doing business. In this article, we’re going to look at how cloud printing works, some of the benefits, and which solution might be right for you. Let’s dive in. 

What is cloud printing?

Cloud printing is basically any tech that lets you print documents via the internet, usually through a printer that’s connected to a private or public network. In other words, remote printing. Instead of relying on a direct connection between the device and the printer, users can access a network of servers to facilitate the printing process .

Cloud printing makes printing wireless, flexible and incredibly easy, without many of the common driver problems and compatibility issues that plagued traditional printing.

Cloud printing vs cloud print management

There are really two sides to cloud printing : cloud print (remote print enablement over the internet via the cloud) and cloud print management (the software that lets you track, monitor and administer your cloud print environment. I.e. platforms like PaperCut). Cloud print management software helps you divest your on-premise infrastructure because cloud printing no longer needs traditional print servers.

How does cloud printing work?

Users can send print jobs from more or less any device – computer, smartphone, tablet, what have you – as long as they have an internet connection. This is usually done through a cloud-print enabled app, like PaperCut, or a web interface. The cloud print service receives the print job, processes it, then sends that print data to the designated printer. The printer receives the data, then prints the document. Hey presto!

With cloud print management software, users can quickly find printers on the network, without setting up complicated drivers. Usually this happens on what we call the ‘public cloud’ – SaaS (Software-as-a-Service) solutions accessed over the internet. But some companies also have ‘private clouds’ where they run dedicated print infrastructures just for their users.

Benefits of cloud printing

There’s a reason cloud printing is taking off: it’s superior in basically every way . Faster, more flexible, more secure, more trackable, more users, more everything. Let’s dive into more detail:

Accessibility  – Cloud printing lets users print documents from anywhere via the internet. Basically a necessity for large companies, or those with a remote workforce.

Device independent  – Users can print from any device or platform, including computers, smartphones, Chromebooks, macOS and even Linux. There’s no need for a physical connection between the device and the printer.

Print queue management  – Cloud printing solutions, like PaperCut, come with incredibly granular control over your print ecosystem. Admins can easily manage print queues and user access, all from the one spot. 

Hardware compatibility   –Regardless of the printers you are using you don’t need to worry about driver installations on particular devices. With cloud printing, all compatibility is seamlessly handled by the cloud print service by default, though you can still use specialized manufacturer drivers if needed.

Automatic updates  – Cloud printing services are maintained by the service providers (that’s us). This means users don’t have to worry about manually updating printer drivers or software.

It’s cheaper  – And finally, we get to money. Cloud printing reduces the need for a dedicated print server, saving you significant overheads. With a simplified printing infrastructure, it also means fewer maintenance costs (and more time for your IT department).

Choosing the right cloud print service

While cloud printing eliminates the need for on-site private servers, there’s always going to be an element of physical infrastructure: the MFD. That’s never going to change. Cloud printing isn’t about replacing infrastructure, necessarily, it’s about enhancing the capabilities of your MFD, allowing users remote access and a whole host of cloud-based convenience.

So how do you figure out which cloud printing service is right for you?

There are two key products we want to look at here: PaperCut Mobility Print and PaperCut Hive.

PaperCut Mobility Print  – This is our free cloud print tool. Thanks to an encrypted peer-to-peer connection, it enables printing outside local networks, and from untrusted guest networks too. This means print jobs stay local, when possible, ensuring super-quick print speeds – they’re basically traveling through the internet via the fastest possible route. PaperCut Mobility Print is a great alternative to Google Cloud Print (in fact, it’s even recommended by Google themselves).

PaperCut Hive  – PaperCut Hive is our fully featured  cloud print management solution, giving you the power of on-premise tech, without the reliance on traditional infrastructure. It uses something called Edge Mesh to work with your existing network, rather than against it. Unlike many fully-hosted (multi-tenant SaaS) cloud print solutions, Hive is secure, fast and ultra-reliable: a fully-hosted cloud print solution that mixes the best of on-premise and cloud technology.

If you’d like to learn more about cloud printing, we’ve dived into the nitty gritty details over here . You can read more about cloud print migration, self-hosted versus fully-hosted models, and the wonderful world of Edge Mesh technology. If you’d like to get cloud printing setup in your workplace, we can help with that too! Just reach out to one of our friendly team.

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