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Wireless printers and networking considerations

My clients get confused setting up wireless printers. They could call me, but for those of you who want to do it yourself, here are the concepts you want.

The Infrastructure Network

In a home or office you nearly always want to set the printer for an infrastructure network. Whether the printer is wired or wireless, you want to connect it to the router.

This way everyone can print to the printer through your router. It does not matter whether some of the computers or printers are connected via cable or wireless. They will all be work through the router. If the printer connects wirelessly, it must be given the router's WiFi SSID and password to connect to the router and be shared by all.

The Ad-hoc network

In contrast, the ad-hoc network connects the printer wirelessly directly to the laptop, bypassing the router. Other computers will either not be able to print at all, or will have to print through the laptop.

This makes no sense in a home or office but would be useful if you were traveling with a mobile printer and wanted to print directly from your laptop to the printer, bypassing a motel's WiFi network.

Printers make it harder, by trying to be easier

Many printer makers are now installing software on your computers to connect to their printer's special ad-hoc network. This is often the default configuration. The easy magic way to install your printer. Avoid this. If you cannot connect via Ethernet cable to the router but must connect wirelessly, be sure you connect to the router. Use the printer's menu system or software to designate the SSID and password for your wireless network. Avoid the simple easy ways. Use the way that works.

Date: June 2017

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