A print server, or printer server, is a device that connects printers to client computers over a network. It accepts print jobs from the computers and sends the jobs to the appropriate printers, queuing the jobs locally to accommodate the fact that work may arrive more quickly than the printer can actually handle. Ancillary functions include the ability to inspect the queue of jobs to be processed, the ability to reorder or delete waiting print jobs, or the ability to do various kinds of accounting (such as counting pages, which may involve reading data generated by the printer(s)). Some software, like PrinterLogic's web application, is designed to manage printing and provide the ancillary functions listed above without using print servers.
A print server may be a networked computer with one or more shared printers. Alternatively a print server may be a dedicated device on the network, with connections to the LAN and one or more printers. Dedicated server appliances tend to be fairly simple in both configuration and features. Print server functionality may be integrated with other devices such as a wireless router, a firewall, or both. A printer may have a built-in print server.
All printers with the right type of connector are compatible with all print servers; manufacturers of servers make available lists of compatible printers because a server may not implement all the communications functionality of a printer (e.g. low ink signal).
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