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ACC-0197 • USB: hubs, long cables, print server adapters

When working with hubs, expansion cards and print server adapters it is advised to contact you local network administrator for assistance and/or the device manufacturer.

Topic:

I have a USB printer but not enough USB ports on my computer or I want to locate my printer further than 6 feet away from my computer.

Resolve:

What you may need to do is to convert the printer over to TCP/IP networking. Some printers have this service available while others can be converted using adapters and switches. Some older printers that only have parallel ports require the use of a TCP/IP adapter.

USB Cabling:

USB is a low power technology that gets its power from the USB port of computers and printers. Because of this all USB printer manufacturers suggest the use of a 6 foot (or shorter) USB cable only. Longer cables and expansion connections will create fatal communication gaps and failed printing. If you need to locate you printer further away us a TCP/IP connection if your printer supports it. If not get a "USB to TCP print server" to convert your USB printer to TCP, then you can locate it far away from the computer.


Ethernet cabling:

This reliable long distance cabling is the computer industry standard extending the range that data can be reliably transmitted. Use an RJ45 standard ethernet jack.connect to the printer and then the network router/switch (network hardware) allowing the printer to be located a great distances from the computing environment.


USB hub (caution): Not recommended

The use of a USB hub (powered or passive) is not recommended. When using a USB printer cable always connect the cable directly to the computer and never a hub (powered or not). Hubs can create communication gaps that are fatal to printing. Hubs are called Passive and Powered. Passive means it's just a box that connects many USB cables and actually reduces the power needed by each cable. Not good. A Powered hub has its own power source, but even then these hubs are not a steady supplier of electric current and therefore are not reliable for printing services.


Internal USB expansion cards: Recommended

It is ok to add an internal USB expansion card and connect to that, but not an external hub. Printing services do not recover well from communication gaps like other devices may.

An internal USB card gets its power directly from the computers logic (motherboard) board and is a good choice for expanding USB ports.


Print Server Adapters, Switches (also called hubs - but not to be confused with USB hubs):  

These have been around a long time and work well. The adapters are better than than the switches for all the above "hub" reasons but since they usually handle only one print service and not many USB services they seem to work well. The key is to have the device handle the TCP/IP language and your ability to give the device a specific IP address that works on your network. An IP address can be added to devices using their own software or using a browser. All devices come with manufacturer instructions to handle this. Knowledge of IP addressing and networking is required.

Note: It is critical to your success to have your print server adapter (hardware) setup properly first. Contact the specific manuafacturer for any help in this matter. With the proper setup of your hardware the AccuRIP setup will be easy.


An Adapter is a device that connects directly to a printer port on the printer (usually parallel or serial) and converts to Ethernet (TCP/IP) addressing allowing the user to expand the range of a printer or breath new life into an old printer model. See companies such as Dlink, Linksys and Netgear for products.

A Print server switch is like a hub, it should have its own power source and the ability to accept a custom IP address. See companies such as Dlink, Linksys and Netgear for products. All devices come with manufacturer instructions to handle this. Knowledge of IP addressing and networking is required. Contact you local network administrator for assistance or call the device manufacturer.

TCP/IP is much more reliable than USB for printing and resolves a number of USB related print issues so its a favored communication standard in the computer field.

Any document, pdf or link mentioned in this article can be located in the Resources.

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