Previously we covered all about wireless printing and mobile printing, so cloud printing is naturally the next topic to cover on the subject and builds on from the previous blog posts. Throughout this blog post we will explain what cloud printing is and how it differs from mobile and wireless printing, how to set up cloud printing and some of the huge benefits cloud printing offers.
What is Cloud Printing?
‘The Cloud’ and ‘Cloud Printing’ are terms that are mentioned a lot in the business world today, but a lot of people don’t fully understand what this means and how it can benefit their organisation. In the most basic terms Cloud Printing enables you to connect your printer to The Cloud (aka, the internet) which allows you, and anyone who has access rights, to print directly to the printer from anywhere in the world and from any device.
So if we just recap on a couple of topics to understand the differences;
- Wireless Printing: This is when you can connect your printer to your computer wirelessly via your wireless router in your office.
- Mobile Printing: This is when you can send documents to your printer wirelessly from your mobile device when both your mobile device and your printer are in range of your wireless router in your office.
- Cloud Printing: This when you can send documents to your printer over the internet (aka ‘The Cloud’) from anywhere in the world when you are connected to the internet.
Benefits of Cloud Printing
I’m sure you can imagine some of the benefits from Cloud Printing, but let’s run through a couple of these now.
Print from Anywhere
Imagine you are on a snowboarding holiday in the French Alps and you realise that you forgot to print out an important document for your team to work through while you are away. Now with the power of Cloud Printing, you can send the document direct from your mobile phone, laptop or tablet straight to the printer for your team to pick up.
While I’m sure you could simply email the document through for them to print, and this is what has traditionally been done, but the benefit of Cloud Printing is that you can cut out that unproductive step from the process of printing a document.
While you can’t do anything about the lack of internet connection or mobile phone signal while on the French Alps, you can make sure that when you do have internet connectivity that you can send documents straight to your printer back at the office.
Computer Free Printing
Traditionally, you would have required a computer to be turned on so you can send documents to the printer. With Cloud Printing, this step is no longer required since your printer connects directly to the internet via your wireless router in your office so bypassing the need for a computer to be turned on to print the documents.
While this may seem like an inconsequential benefit, it is actually very powerful. Since if your computer is with you in the French Alps, then it isn’t going to be very useful in printing out documents on the printer in your office – unless of course you have Cloud Printing set up.
Are you an IT Administrator responsible for all the computer setup in the business? Often, all staff use the same printer in larger offices, all of whom required the specific printer drivers installed on their computers, laptops, tablets and mobile phones to be able to print. Now imagine the scenario whereby your printer is becoming a little dated or breaks and needs replacing with an upgraded model.
The first thing that is needed is for the drivers on all devices every member of staff owns to be upgraded to the latest model. If you have 200-300 staff in the office, who each have at least 2 devices (computer and mobile phone), this could be up to 600 devices that need the printer drivers updating on. Since each user is unlikely to have administrator access to their computer, this means that it will be unlikely that they will be able to install the new printer drivers their self – which means it’s your job to update this.
If each device takes 10 minutes to update the printer drivers, this would take 6000 minutes, or 100 hours, or 13.3 days, so basically two weeks full time upgrading printer drivers. Quite a laborious job I’m sure you’ll agree.
Thankfully Cloud Printing services can cut this change down to a matter of minutes by simply connecting the new printer to ‘The Cloud’ and granting access to everyone with the click of a button. More about this later though.
Limitations of Cloud Printing
As outlined in the previous blog post about Mobile Printing, there are drawbacks with Cloud Printing which lie with the printers their self. Some printers will happily print and any all types of documents and file types, where as other printers are a little pickier and will only print certain file types.
Since there is no hard and fast rule to follow here, it is always best to check with your printer manufacturer which types of documents your printer will be able to print from The Cloud.
Another limitation of Cloud Printing is that you can’t fix a paper jam, replace ink cartridges or top up your paper tray from the French Alps. Printers are prone to misbehaving so it would be recommended not to rely on Cloud Printing for critical documents unless there is someone at the other end who can fix things if anything went wrong.
How to Connect your Printer to The Cloud
The best way to connect your printer to The Cloud is using Google Cloud Print which is free to use for anyone. Before we go into the details of how to connect your printer to The Cloud, this video from Google explains the setup quite well;
Following on from the video, there are a few key steps to setting up Cloud Printing.
Step 1: Connect your Printer to your Wireless Router
For information on how to do this, I recommend reading our earlier blog post about Wireless Printing. Once you have this set up, your printer is connected to your wireless router and prints documents by sending them form the computer, to the router, to the printer as shown in the diagram below;
Step 2: Connect your Printer to Google Cloud Print
The next step is to connect your printer to Google Cloud Print as outlined in the guidelines. If you have a new printer that is already Google Cloud Print enabled, then follow the guidelines for your specific printer.
If you are unsure if your printer is Google Cloud Print ready, simply look out for the logo below which shows that it is;
Step 3: Granting Access to the Printer
The example we gave earlier about an IT Administrator having to upgrade drivers for hundreds of people when moving to a new printer. Well thankfully, Google Cloud Print allows you to do all of this with the click of a button.
Simply login to the online settings and click on “Share” which will allow you to grant access to anyone by uploading a list of email addresses to grant those users access.
Now there are a couple of items to note here, you do need some additional software installing on devices to allow you to print via The Cloud to your printer. This software differs depending on your device and operating system, so for a full list of which is best for yourself view the different Apps available.
You could rightfully ask why you would do this when you could just install the new printer drivers, but this setup now enables easy migration and access in the future. Cloud based printing is only going to grow in popularity so getting this in place now is going to help long term. Once the Cloud Printing application is installed, you never have to worry about installing printer drivers again, something which I’m sure is a relief to a lot of people.
Cloud Ready Printers
As more printers are being built with Google Cloud Print technology embedded in them, we thought it would be useful to see which these are;
|Canon||Photo All-In-One PrintersPIXMA MG8220PIXMA MG6220
|Epson||WorkForce SeriesWorkForce 545
Kodak Office Hero
Kodak ESP Office
|Samsung||Home & PersonalCLP-365WCLX-3305FW
Home Office & Small Business
If your printer isn’t listed above, it doesn’t mean that it is not possible to utilise Cloud Printing technology within your office, it simply means that you need to configure things manually. As long as your printer has wireless technology built in then it can connect to your wireless router which can then be hooked up to Google Cloud Print for you to be able to print from anywhere.
Cloud Printing Summary
Hopefully we have covered off all of your Cloud Printing questions and helped you understand how Cloud Printing can benefit your business. If you have used Cloud Printing in an innovative way within your organisation or if you have any more questions then let us know in the comments.