General FAQ


What is PaperCut?

PaperCut is a software application designed to help organizations manage printing. It helps to:

  • Minimise waste
  • Save paper and toner/ink
  • Improve document security
  • Save the system administrator's time
  • Encourage end-users to improve printing behavior

There is so much more. Jump in to the tour.

How does PaperCut work?

It's hard to fit this one in an FAQ! The full movie's over an hour, but here's the trailer:

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, reporting or a combination of all
  • or security features like secure print release, archiving and watermarking

Typically PaperCut is installed on a server, but also supports local workstations. Many sites compliment the solution with optional embedded software on touch-screen MFDs, and/or use PaperCut's mobile/tablet print options.

Where is PaperCut Software (the company) based?

PaperCut was founded in 1998 by Chris and Matt in Melbourne, Australia and our HQ continues to be located there. Today PaperCut is very much a global company with teams in Portland, USA and London, UK. Our partner network reaches into almost every country. The highest level partner are Authorized Solution Centers (ASC). We refer to our ASCs as family and they help us extend PaperCut's reach globally across many languages and regions.

Is PaperCut available in other languages?

Yes. 22 languages and counting!

Why should I choose PaperCut's products?

There are many methods of managing printing and many print management solutions out there. PaperCut's difference in that we provide true vendor independent solutions - meaning our products support all major printer brands equally. You can change printer brands or operating systems any time. Another difference is that ease-of-use is entrenched into the PaperCut NG and PaperCut MF design. These benefits have empowered system administrators to implement print management in over 60,000 organizations.

Where did the name PaperCut come from?

The name PaperCut was our founder Chris's idea. It was one of his great names choices and he's proud of it... unlike the less creative "NG" and "MF" names used for the editions. By the way, NG was an internal project name for "Next Generation" PaperCut rewrite done in 2005. MF stands for Multi-function... Oh well! Hopefully "NG" and "MF" will be the last product names selected by the coders :-)

What printers and multi-function devices (MFD) are supported?

This is one area we're very proud of. We've strived hard over the last 15 years to support every make and model of printer. It doesn't matter what brand you have, or what driver you're using, our vision is that PaperCut "just works" out of the box. PaperCut supports anything from a small desktop printer all the way up to largest MFDs with advanced touchscreens. Vendor neutrality is core to our development and design philosophies.

Can I change printer brands?

Yes. In most situations you can change printer brands or models with no loss in functionality and minimal reconfiguration required. For simple printers, setup is even automatic. If you're running MFD embedded software, setup will be required on the new devices.

What is the difference between PaperCut NG and PaperCut MF?

The short answer is that PaperCut NG is a self-download and install (DIY) product that allows organizations to implement print monitoring and control. PaperCut MF extends the functionality of PaperCut NG with a higher level of hardware integration. PaperCut MF has embedded software that installs on most leading MFD/MFP brands to support secure print release on the device's touch screen, as well as tracking copy, scan and fax activity. This question is covered in more detail in the PaperCut MF FAQ.

What problems does PaperCut help me solve?

Many! Everything from basic print logging, all the way up to advanced print and document security. Check out the tour for an overview. Oh! And I'm sure one day PaperCut will even help you make coffee... are developers are working on that right now :)

What are the typical cost reductions/savings?

Savings depend on the features implemented and the organization type. In the education environment, most organizations see big savings and an ROI in only a few months. Businesses save up to 20% by implementing just the secure print release and find-me printing functionality. Mix in print policies to encourage duplex, or your own rules, and you'll soon not only be saving paper but also making users more productive and doing less admin work!

Have a play with the ROI calculator to get a feel.

How do I get support?

If you're using PaperCut NG, or running a trial, reach out direct to our support team. We're very proud of our global support teams based in Melbourne, Portland and London. Each team is manned by sys admins and ex-customers, they all love a challenge... and coffee of course. If you're running PaperCut MF you will have purchased the software from one of our certified partners. They usually will be the first point of contact as they know you and your system best. Check out the "About" tab in your PaperCut admin console for the most appropriate support contact.

What's with all this coffee stuff?

Yes! We love it. You'll see references to coffee all through our manual and throughout our website. The PaperCut dev team are all certified coffee baristas and we have our own Cafe called "/dev/coffee" . Check out our about page to learn more about our coffee culture.


What is a print server and do I need one?

A print server is a central machine that hosts shared print queues and coordinate printer setup and driver deployment. Print servers also help centrally manage printing. Even though PaperCut does not need a print server, setting one up streamlines administration and simplifies the setup of PaperCut. A print server does not need to be a dedicated system - in many cases and existing machine can take this role.

How exactly does PaperCut tracks and control my printing?

PaperCut works by "watching" the print jobs as they pass through your print/file server (be it Windows, Mac, Novell or Linux). You don't need any special print drivers or setup. PaperCut works by directly analyzing the Postscript, PCL or other print data as it's being sent to the device. If PaperCut needs to take action, say deny or hold printing due a policy, the print job is automatically canceled or paused.

Can PaperCut run in the Cloud?

PaperCut needs a two-way communication with devices located locally in your network (your printers!). The majority of organizations set up PaperCut locally in their network. PaperCut is private Cloud ready as more and more organizations are moving to cloud hosted infrastructure. Private Cloud infrastructure is often implemented as a security interface on top of existing internal networks and hence two-way communication with devices on-premises is possible. Read more about Private Cloud.

What is a global print queue?

One of PaperCut's most popular features in medium to large organizations is Find-Me Printing. With this setup, end-users print to a single central global queue and then release their print job at any device. The print job "follows" you to the printer. The central queue is referred to as a global or virtual queue. You can read more about find-me printing in the tour.

What is PaperCut's global print driver? Do I need it?

PaperCut includes an optional global print driver. We've designed this driver to work across the widest variety of printer makes and models. This driver streamlines your printer setup and management and helps offer find-me printing across a mix of device models and makes.

What is the smallest site PaperCut can run on?

Many small businesses run PaperCut. In fact PaperCut NG is free for businesses with 5 users or less.

What is the largest site PaperCut can run on?

We haven't yet found the edge of our universe. The largest site has 350,000 users. Many sites have thousands of printers spread across multiple physical locations. With options for clustering and site servers for link fault tolerance, PaperCut is designed to scale.

Can I customise PaperCut myself?

Sure. You're the owner so you should be able to make it yours. Maybe it's as simple as adding your own logo to end-user screens, or it's as advanced as:

  • Using print scripting to customize pop-ups to users.
  • Using the API to push in billable account codes.
  • Mashing up the API set to interface with your student management system.

We're techies and we're here to help your creativity.

What platforms does PaperCut support?

The top-level answer is Windows, Mac, Linux, and Novell. The next level answer is anything that can get a print job onto these platforms. We've got customers using PaperCut to manage printing from anything the latest mainframes such as AS400 and custom UNIX systems, all the way down to mobile devices.

Data & Security

Where is my data stored?

PaperCut ships with its own internal database which allows for a very quick setup in most installations. This database lives within this application directory, so in most cases your data lives securely on the file structure of the 'Application Server'. PaperCut also supports storing it's data in common databases such as Microsoft SQL Server, MySQL and Oracle. If you have an existing instance that's already being managed and backed-up, this may be a great place to securely store your data.

What is secure print release?

Have you ever wandered over to a shared MFD/printer to find someone has "accidentally" walked away with your print? Have you ever ran to the printer to make sure you get that sensitive document before someone else? With a simple change in process, i.e. the swipe of a card or the entry of a PIN, PaperCut can make sure your document doesn't start printing until you are standing at the device. Find out more about PaperCut's Secure Print Release feature!

What is watermarking?

At it's simplest form, a watermark is the automatic addition of a user name and data at the bottom of each page. It's great in education environments and ensures documents can be traced back to the owner.

A watermark can be a digital signature that helps organizations identify and confirm the source of a document. Many businesses use the digital signature feature to encourage best-practice document security and handling.

Check out the tour for more details

Is PaperCut a secure solution? My environment is extremely restrictive, and we can't run anything that isn't totally airtight!

Any distributed system that is worth considering should be designed with security in mind, and PaperCut has certainly done this! Any data PaperCut transmits between system components is encrypted using SSL, which when coupled with a signed certificate, makes communication of data secure to industry standards. PaperCut can install and function entirely within the secure walls of an organization. Additionally, the product uses minimal ports to ensure network security setup is simple and effective.

Can I backup my data/setup?

Absolutely. If you're using one of the many databases PaperCut supports, this may already be taken care of with existing strategies. If not, the PaperCut Application Server itself provides functions to backup the system data in it's entirety. Something for the techies; we actually save the database in standardised XML so that if there was a database disaster, we can redeploy our database to another database type entirely; i.e lose your Oracle server, we can republish our data on MSSQL. Cool right? That was a lot of words to say 'yes' in hindsight.

Configuration & Setup

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.

I'd like to evaluate PaperCut but am concerned about installing it on a production server?

It's easy to set up PaperCut in a "silent monitoring" mode first. This allows you to play with the features and enable functionality gradually over time. If you've got a large or complex print environment it may be appropriate to install PaperCut on a test server or VM and get a feel for it before planning your rollout.

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.

How long does it take to install?

This all depends on how complex you make your configuration! At it's simplest form, PaperCut can be installed and set-up in minutes and immediately you can start benefiting from reporting and basic print quotas or rules. Then again large complex environments such as a University often plan and test their deployments over weeks or even months, and will often leverage features such as web-print, global driver, and print scripting.

My question is not here. Why?

Sorry. We ran out of coffee! This FAQ is already very long. But don't worry. You may find the answer by searching our Knowledge Base, other FAQs or of course feel free to reach out to us any time. We love talking much more than we do writing FAQ's :-)