Shared by more than one computer, a network printer can be a typical inkjet or laser desktop printer or it could be a larger, high volume printer such as those found in many offices.
A local printer is connected directly to a single computer and typically used only by that computer user while a network computer is accessible over a wired or wireless network to all the computers and users on that network. A network computer does not have to be physically located next to any one (or more) computers. It may be in another room, even another building.
Using a network computer is no different than using a local printer except that it may be necessary to wait longer for a print job if other users on the network have a lot of print jobs in queue ahead of yours. Also, in a network setting it may be necessary to schedule print jobs ahead of time, especially if you'll be printing an extremely large job that will tie up the printer for awhile or if you will need to change the paper type or other printing parameters from whatever is standard for most other users. If you have the option, in an office setting it may be desirable to have both a local and network printer. You might use your local printer for drafts and then use the network printer for the final printing of a desktop publishing job.
In a home office setting, a wireless network printer (even where there are no other network users) offers the advantage of not needing to have your computer located in close proximity to your printer. It's also great for use with a laptop computer that you use in multiple rooms. No cables to unplug and no printer to lug from room to room.
Using a Network Printer
- Visual of A Local Area Network (LAN) with Printer illustrates how computers and printers may be connected to each other for sharing files and more between a group of people.
- How to Network a Printer describes different ways of adding a network printer including Wi-Fi, Windows Network and Printer Sharing, Bluetooth and others.
- Networking With a Router works for file sharing, printer sharing, and other networking needs.
More Networking and Printer Sharing
- How to Build a Wireless Home Network is one way to turn your desktop printer into a network printer for the whole family.
- How to Enable or Disable Windows File and Printer Sharing is for all your Windows computers.
- LAN or local area network is what you might use in your home office. Other types of networks you might set up or be a part of at your place of employment include WAN, WLAN, and several other *ANs.