Tips for Managing Printers and Reducing Printing Costs
Printers are an important part of any network and are often not given the attention they deserve. Just like any other limited resource, printers need to be effectively managed and controlled. Without effective management, printers can become difficult to administer and expensive to run and maintain. Printer costs, including printer hardware, paper, toner/ink and servicing/maintenance, are often underestimated or dismissed as being impossible to control.
Managing printer resources is important to ensure their effective use, and to minimize costs. This article outlines a number of tips to help better manage printers and their impact on your budget.
One of the biggest recurring costs in operating a computer network is the cost of printer paper and toner. The key to reducing printing costs is to reduce the use of these resources through effective management of printing resources and making users responsible for their usage. Saving printing resources also reduces impact on our environment by reducing the energy, waste products and raw materials required to produce the paper, ink and hardware.
By implementing print quotas on your network you are ensuring your users will use printing resources efficiently. Users quickly learn to make effective use of resources to avoid using up their print quota. Your users will become more thoughtful about printing and are encouraged to only print what they really need. Schools or universities often implement a print quota system to minimize printing costs.
In some environments it is appropriate to implement a user pays printing system. This can involve users paying up-front for their printing, or just being able to top up their quotas when they run out of credit.
PaperCut is an effective way to implement print quotas and/or a user pays printing system.
It makes sense to encourage users to use the cheapest printer to run that will meet their needs. For example, high-end high-volume printers are much cheaper to run than small desktop printers. PaperCut can provide this encouragement by enabling assigning lower costs to these printers, and higher costs to your more expensive printers. Your users will learn to use the high-end printers and you will see the reduction in costs.
When your printers become too busy you may need to purchase or upgrade printers to meet the demand. This ends up costing more in both hardware costs and network administration time.
By reducing the amount of printing on your network, printers become less overloaded, the print queues will be shorter, and users will not need to wait as long for print jobs to print. This will lessen the need to purchase new printers or upgrade existing printers. You may even find that you can even reduce the number of printers on your network.
Should demand grow regardless (e.g. because the number of users has increased), PaperCut provides the data necessary to decide what type of printer is required, and where to put it.
In some environments, it may not appropriate to limit user printing through quotas. This might be the case in a company where you do not want to interfere in users’ work, but just reduce printing, paper and toner costs. An effective way to do this is to monitor printer use by your users, by examining print logs. If your users know that printer usage is monitored then they will be more careful about using printers.
You can also publish print log reports and statistics to management or your intranet, such as:
- users who have printed the most in the past month
- the most expensive print jobs over the past month.
If this information is readily available, then it encourages people to think before they print.
Color printer and color toner is much more expensive than for black and white printing. You should encourage users to only print in color when they really need to. Often users only need to print in color for their final draft. Working drafts only need to be printed in black and white. To discourage printing in color you should make printing to color printers more expensive to users and/or reduce the cost of grayscale printing on color printers.
It is no use having a high-volume printer where it is not being used, or to have a low-end desktop printer in a location that causes it to be overloaded. It is often difficult to understand how your printers are used without the ability to track printing and generate statistics about how your printers are used. By analyzing print logs from your printers and reporting on printer statistics, you can better understand how your printers are used. This allows you to make informed decisions about where best to locate your printer resources.
When your network printers are deployed across many print servers, the administration of printers is more complicated and time consuming. Often networks start by setting up local printers, but this quickly gets out of control as the network grows.
By consolidating your print queues on a single print server it provides a single point of configuration. This allows you to set up your printing security at a single location. Making use of a directory server such as Windows Active Directory to manage your centralized printers simplifies administration even more.
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Keywords: tips, costs, price, pricing