Q I occasionally have guest users come and use my network and I’d like to offer them printing access if possible. Can you give me an overview of the various options I can use to manage these “guest” users?
There are a number of ways in which guests are handled. It varies from organization to organization and often the approach adopted relates to how they handle guest accounts for other services such as general PC/network access. Here is a summary of the main options:
1) Pre-loaded rotating guest accounts
Many organizations also have logins to access the network. They will pre-create a set of user directory (e.g. Active Directory) guest users each with limited rights and random passwords. e.g.
guest001, guest002, guest003, …., guest100
Guests users collect and information sheet and/or maybe fill out and sign an network access policy form before being allocated one of these accounts. Guests accounts in some cases are already pre-loaded with printing credit. Accounts are often recycled after a few months. Sites often take this approach if they need to “audit” usage. For example,
guest061 access an inappropriate website and they have a record of the real name of the person using this account at that time.
From PaperCut’s perspective, there needs to be nothing special to support this as it’s really just another AD account.
2) Self-account creation (internal users)
In this scenario, guest users all login to the desktops as a generic user such as “guest”. PaperCut can be configured to display a popup dialog requesting a username and password for printing. If a user does not yet have an account, they can sign up by filling in a web form. A similar process to signing up for say an Yahoo or Gmail account. One the user has an account, they can login and add funds via credit card (via one of our online payment gateway options) or say a topup card/voucher an use this for any further printing or devices access (say at a copier terminals).
More information on this setup option in Chapter 26 - Managing Guests and Internal Users.
3) Pay and Release
This method relies on release stations with payment hardware attached such as the a coin/note acceptor with optional change unit (PaperCut MF supports this option with various hardware units). Users print as “guest” and can only release their jobs after loading money at a Pay and Release station. In this setup, jobs can’t be tracked by user and are simply associated with the nominated guest login.
Off-the-glass copiers in such environments are usually managed with coin/cash vending units (such as those produced by Jamex, etc.)
Wireless Laptop/Network Users
Some sites like to offer printing to users via the wireless network direct from their own laptops/netbooks, etc. This is possible with PaperCut’s Web Printing feature. Access is managed via one of the three methods outlined above. Web Print simply offers an alternate way to get the job in to the print queue.
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