If you’re wondering whether you should print using a USB or network connection, there’s a simple answer. If at all possible, print using network!
While USB printing is absolutely fine, network printing is easier than you think and has several added benefits. Let’s first discuss those benefits, and then find out how easy it is to print with a network connection.
- Network printing gives you access to the printer’s Embedded Web Server (EWS). The EWS can be viewed in any browser (i.e, Internet Explorer, Edge, Chrome, or Safari) by typing in the printer’s IP address. From the EWS you can monitor print jobs and ink levels; view critical printer information such as Serial Number and Firmware Version; set up an email notification system, and even control certain printer parameters. Unfortunately there is currently no way to access the EWS via a USB connection.
- Network printing allows you to more easily manage your printer connection. If you choose to print over USB, you must remember which USB port you selected. Plugging the cable into a different USB port will require a different driver instantiation. This can be rather confusing because it can quickly become unclear as to which USB driver connects to which physical port. Your PC will likely only have a single network port, eliminating this problem. (Ahh, but there lies the rub. Some PC’s have NO network ports. We’ll get to that.)
- NeuraLabel offers tools that can communicate with the printer over network. NeuraLabel offers a printer monitoring tool, called NeuraQ, that can monitor the state of your printer and its print jobs. NeuraQ can restart a print job where it left off in the event of a printer error state such as media out or ink out. NeuraQ also provides other basic tracking information such as job logging and supply tracking.
Now that you’ve seen the benefits, let’s see how easy network printing can be. First you must verify your PC indeed has a network port. Unfortunately, many of the newer laptops do not have such a port as they are wireless only. If it does, all you’ll need is a network cable.
If your PC does have a network port follow these steps. Turn your printer OFF. Plug in a network cable from your PC to your printer. (A crossover cable is not needed.) Power on the printer. On the printer operator panel select:
Setup->Network->View Network Summary->Wired
You should see something like the following appear. Your information will be similar, but not exactly the same.
Hostname: Printer Hostname
The IP number was automatically assigned. To verify the connection, bring up a web browser on your PC and enter the IP shown. You will see the EWS screen, similar to that shown below. If you see this screen, you know the PC and printer are communicating.
Next install an instance of the printer driver using the IP shown. This installation is similar to a USB installation, but you will enter the printer’s IP. You are now ready to print using the network cable, just as if you would print using USB.
If your PC does not have a network port, you’ll have to use a wireless router, an access point, or a wireless bridge to connect to the printer. These are inexpensive boxes that allow you to connect both wired and wireless devices. Follow the instructions that come with the device. Plug your printer into the device and connect your PC wirelessly. Remember, however, that continuous printing is not designed to work over a wireless connection. Printing copies should present no problems, however printing sequenced complex documents over this limited bandwidth may not be possible. Once you’ve established the network connection, follow the steps outlined above.
Finally, keep in mind that it is possible to connect a PC to a printer both with USB and network. So if you are intent on printing over USB, you could still use a network cable to access the Embedded Web Server. In fact you could alternately print using a USB and network connection, however this doesn’t serve any real purpose and can lead to conflicts. It’s OK to have both connections, but only print using one at a time.
NOTE: This article applies to Windows 7 and above and Apple OS X.