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Managing your Edge Mesh Nodes

🔎 Find this feature in the admin interface: Manage > Edge Mesh

The Edge Mesh is the local network magic that manages all your print jobs without anyone really doing anything or noticing that it’s happening.

As a system administrator, you probably want to have a say in what devices are getting used for what, and since you know your environment far better than we do, you can customize it in a way that works best for you and your users.

Screenshot of the Edge Mesh tab, allowing management and configuration of your local network Edge Nodes and the Cloud Node.
Managing the Edge Mesh for your printing organization.

If you’re interested in more detail on exactly what roles the nodes perform, take a look through the Edge Mesh and Edge Nodes (How it works) article.

This article runs through a brief overview of the different types of nodes available, and when you’d want to use each type.

What is a Node?

A Node is simply any machine on your network that has got the PaperCut Edge Node software installed on it (which is installed on all end-user machines when they sign up to use Pocket or Hive). Your organization can only talk to nodes specifically created-and-linked to your organization through the user signup process, and your Edge Nodes can only talk to your specific Pocket or Hive organization in the cloud. There’s no funny business going on with bitcoin mining or other cross-pollination. Your nodes are your nodes, and no-one else’s.

After a user installs the Pocket or Hive client on their laptop or workstation, assuming that client can talk to the cloud (successfully reach the internet), their device should appear under the Edge Mesh section within a few minutes.

Seeing the status of a node

All node types also have a node ‘status’ to indicate their connectivity to the Edge Node in question. The status also shows exactly when the cloud last saw the node (or when the Edge Node last ‘checked in’) - details are in the Last Seen column, lower down in the list of Edge Nodes in Manage > Edge Mesh.

Status
Icon Description
Online Green checkmark All good! There has been contact with the Edge Node in the last couple of minutes.
Offline Yellow warning triangle There has not been any contact with the Edge Node for around 3 minutes or more - this could be someone who has just shut down their laptop for the day.
Offline Red ‘x’ cross There has not been any contact with the Edge Node for nearly an hour or more - this could be someone who left the office hours ago, or they have not been on the local network recently.
Passive Gray pause icon The node was demoted to Passive Node status.

Standard Node

Any laptop or PC makes a good Standard Node. A Standard Node plays an active role in the local Edge Mesh. Nodes work together to keep print jobs secure and safe. A Standard Node:

  • securely holds encrypted print jobs waiting for release
  • monitors the status of a printer
  • checks on the printer’s health and toner levels.

If a Super Node is present on the network, a Standard Node will often sit idle ready to take over in the event of any failure (the Edge Mesh is a self-healing network). The more nodes present on the network, the more the printing load is shared (it makes a self-scaling system).

A good example of a Standard Node is the laptop of each regular employee. As each employee comes into the office they use their laptop - and as a result they join the Edge Mesh. It’s no problem if anyone goes on vacation or is away for a day since other standard nodes seamlessly step in to take over.

Super Node

You promote a Standard Node to become a Super Node if it’s almost always guaranteed to be switched on and accessible to the network.

As well as performing the regular role of a Standard Node, a Super Node is given preferential treatment so that all print jobs are replicated to the Super Node as part of the behind-the-scenes replication process. That way, if there’s an all-hands meeting at the local coffee shop and everyone dashes out with their laptops, there is one last machine that will have all the print jobs available for release if needed.

On the following printer platforms, the Full Embedded software relies on the Edge Mesh for various operations such as swipe card login and printer access: Toshiba, HP OXPd, Konica Minolta and Fuji Xerox. To ensure a reliable user experience, your network should have at least one Edge Node always available on the same network as the printer. When you have identified one or more reliable, always-on Nodes, we recommend you promote them to Super Nodes, as they will be used preferentially by PaperCut Hive.

Another important role of a Super Node is that it handles iOS printing! We’ll spare you the gory details, but briefly - when installing the PaperCut Printer on iOS, the printer profile needs to point to a particular IP address (or if you have more than one Super Node, more than one IP address). This means that when you print from iOS, print jobs always find their way to a Super Node.

A good example of a Super Node is the machine that is used at the reception desk or the machine that is used for building security. It’s always switched on, and it’s always connected to the network because it has other important jobs to do, too! We’ve seen other organizations suggest the ‘music machine’ - sometimes the most important machine in the office is the one providing the streaming music!

An alternative to ensuring Super Nodes have a static IP address is to enable the Cloud Node for iOS printing.

Passive Node

A Passive Node is the opposite of a Super Node - not to cast doubts on this type of node, but it normally can’t be trusted to be available and generally shouldn’t be relied on to be part of the Edge Mesh. Sorry Passive Node!!

A good example of a Passive Node is any machine that has the PaperCut Pocket or Hive client installed, but is very infrequently at the office or connected to the network. For example, maybe there’s someone who works from home 6 out of 7 weeks or someone whose role means they are mostly out of the office during the day.

When you demote a node to be a Passive Node, the cloud then no longer replicates print jobs to that machine, since it knows that the chances are slim that it will be available when it comes time to release that print job.

Note that even if a machine is demoted to be a Passive Node, the user can still print from it without any issues. As with all types of nodes, the behavior to the user is completely invisible.

Cloud Node

The Cloud Node may be optionally enabled to support off-network or cloud printing. If one of the network users is in the cafe down the street, connected to the cloud over their cell-connection, no problem! They can still print if the Cloud Node is enabled.

The print client on their laptop will securely route the encrypted job to the Cloud Node. When it comes time to release the job, the Cloud Node will forward the job to one of the organization’s local-network Edge Nodes to print the job to the chosen printer.

You enable the Cloud Node by switching on the Include in Mesh toggle in the Manage > Edge Mesh page. No extra software install needed - just click the switch, and within a few moments you’ll see the new Cloud Node begin to handle print jobs.

In terms of job replication preference, if the person printing is on your local network then the Cloud Node won’t be used - why make the job travel up to the cloud and back for no reason! The exception to this is if there is only one Edge Node available on your local network when someone prints. For example with only one Edge Node online, the print job will be replicated to the Cloud Node too, for redundancy.

It can get slightly more complicated than that though - skip through if you feel your eyes glazing over, but there’s other scenarios which have different outcomes. For example:

  • If someone on your local network prints and there are zero local Edge Nodes online, replication doesn’t actually happen - the job will go straight to the Cloud Node.
  • If there’s only one local Edge Node online, then (as above) that Edge Node receives the job, and it also gets replicated to the Cloud Node.
  • If there are two or more local Edge Nodes online, then replication happens within the local network, and the job does not get replicated to the Cloud Node.

Changing a Node’s type

Within the Edge Mesh section of the admin interface, you can:

  • promote a Standard Node to be a Super Node
  • demote a Standard Node to be a Passive Node
  • demote Super Nodes to be a Standard Node
  • promote a Passive Node to be a Standard Node
  • put your left leg in, your left leg out.

Endless possibilities!

Find the node that you want to promote or demote, and use the ‘⋮’ menu to select Promote or Demote.

Edge Mesh and Edge Node frequently asked questions (FAQs)

Do phones form part of the Edge Mesh?
No. While phones can be used to release print jobs via the Mobile App, they do not form part of the Edge Mesh - they do not store print jobs or participate in any other Edge Mesh functionality.
Can I delete an Edge Node completely?
Yes. Once the PaperCut Pocket or Hive software is uninstalled from the laptop or PC, as long as the laptop or PC is connected to the internet, the Edge Node will automatically be removed from the list of available Edge Nodes under Manage > Edge Mesh.
Can I rename an Edge Node?
Not at the moment - the Edge Node name is the machine name taken from the OS - for example, in macOS or Windows, the node name is the computer name specified in System Preferences or Control Panel (System).
Do all Edge Nodes need to have a static IP address?
No - since most Edge Nodes sit on regular laptops or PCs, there is no need to assign any static IP addresses. The exception to this is if you’re using a Super Node (or multiple Super Nodes) to handle iOS printing - in which case all your Super Nodes need to have a static IP address.
Can I make our MFDs into Edge Nodes?
Fantastic idea!! Not yet, but it’s something we’re working on. Watch this space!
Can I make a Raspberry Pi into an Edge Node?
Another good idea!! At the moment you can’t use a Raspberry Pi for your Edge Nodes. Sorry!
Why do I see Super Nodes listed that I haven’t promoted?

If you install the Pocket or Hive software on a Server OS (for example, Windows Server 2019) then the Edge Node software assumes that since it’s running on a server-level machine, there’s a high chance that it will be always on and always connected to the network.

If this isn’t correct, then manually demote the Super Node back down to a Standard Node.

One of the nodes was renamed at the OS level. When will the new name show up in the ‘Edge Mesh’ page?
The new name of the Edge Node (someone’s laptop or PC) should show up in the admin interface within about an hour. However, at the moment it might need a restart of the device to get that to appear correctly - we’re working on fixing that!
How much processing power does the Edge Node use?
Great question - since the Edge Node service is running on people’s computers, you are right to be concerned! No need to worry though - the Edge Node service is comparable to something like your Dropbox file sync app that makes your files available offline. From our experimentation it typically uses less processing power and memory than a tab in your web browser.
How secure is the Cloud Node?
All documents sent through the Cloud Node are stored in Google’s cloud - protected by Google’s security. The job is encrypted on its way to the cloud using a secure HTTPS connection. Furthermore, the file is only accessible via a signed URL that we hand over to the Edge Node for releasing the job. Only an Edge Mesh authorized in your organization can access these jobs. Files in the cloud are also deleted after 7 days from creation. (In the future, jobs will be deleted right after they’re printed!).
If I use the Cloud Node, does that mean we don’t need any regular Edge Nodes?
No - the Cloud Node is great for allowing people to send jobs from devices that aren’t on the same network (like a cell connection or a guest WiFi network), however PaperCut Pocket and Hive still need at least one Edge Node to be able to print the document to a printer on your network.
Can I disable the Cloud Node?
Yup! It’s actually disabled by default - but if you’ve enabled it, just switch the Include in Mesh toggle to ‘off’ and within around 1 hour it will stop routing jobs through the Cloud Node. Outside of working hours it will take 12 hours to be disabled.
What if all my Active Edge Nodes are offline - can a Passive Edge Node step in to help?
Absolutely. If a user is printing from macOS or Windows, and no active Edge Nodes are available, their own local Passive Edge Node (the one running on the macOS or Windows device they’re printing from) will step up and help out! Thanks Passive Edge Node!

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