Thankfully, sharing a printer with other computers on your network is remarkably easy, especially if you’re running Windows XP. If you haven’t installed your printer yet, you’ll be given the option to share it during the installation process. All you need to decide is what the printer’s share name will be – in other words, the name it will go by on your network. As a general rule, the name that Windows will suggest won’t be very helpful, so make a point of giving it a name that will make it easy for other users on your network to recognize and identify. For example, if you’re planning to share both a laser and inkjet printer on your network, names like LASER and INKJET will make the shared printers easier to identify.
Sharing a printer from Windows 9X or ME isn’t really any more difficult than from Windows XP, but you’ll need to ensure that you have File and Printer Sharing installed and enabled first. You can add the service from the properties of your network connection, and enable it via the File and Printer Sharing section that appears in your network properties after rebooting your system. Once enabled, you can share your printer from the Sharing tab found in its properties pages.
After a printer has been shared from a PC, that computer takes on the role of acting as print server on your network. That means that on top of whatever else you expect the computer to do, it will also be responsible for processing all incoming print jobs. In some cases (with older and slower PCs), this computer may experience performance issues, especially on networks where the printing load is consistent or heavy. If you find that the PC you’ve shared the printer from isn’t up to the task, consider switching the role to a faster computer, or investing in a hardware print server as will be outlined in the next article.