I work from a small office and do not really have a large desk that I always wanted. Working from a small desk, I have to keep all the unnecessary stuff away from the workspace to make room for the essential things – one of which is my old faithful wired printer that takes about one-third of the desk space. I would really love to have a wireless printer and put it in a corner somewhere to gain more desk space. But why waste money on a new wireless printer when you can convert your old wired printer into a wireless printer using a cheap wireless print server.
A wireless print server is a small WiFi device that you have to attach to your wired printer so that it can be used over WiFi. It is basically a small WiFi router that connects to your wired printer. All the leading WiFi device manufacturers like Netgear, D-Link, TP-Link etc., have WiFi print servers available in a variety of models. I personally picked the TP-Link WPS510U wireless print server as it is both cost-effective and small in size.
Setting up wireless print server requires three steps. First of all you have to make the cable connections. Just like a WiFi router that you connect to your ADSL internet modem, you connect the USB cable from the WiFi print server to the USB port of your wired printer. Then you have to connect the power cable to the WiFi print server and turn it on. In my TP-Link print server, an LED shows that it is powered on.
The second step involves installation using the software CD that comes with the WiFi print server. Just insert the CD into your computer and follow the on screen directions. The TP-Link WiFi print server comes with EasySetup utility which makes things very easy even for beginners. Basically you have to select the IP address and the target printer (from the previously installed printers, assuming you have already installed the printer drivers).
Until now when you print something on your computer it sends the print jobs to the USB port of the installed printer. In the third step, we have to redirect the print jobs in your computer to the WiFi port instead of the USB port. For this, you have to open the Printers section in the Control Panel, right-clicking on your printer and choose Printer Properties.
In the Printer Properties window, you have to select the Ports tab. This will show you the enabled ports for your printer. Click on the Add Port button, choose Standard TCP/IP Port from the port types and click on the New Port button. This will take you through many steps that basically involve adding the IP address of the WiFi print server so that the print jobs can be sent to it. In the end, you have to de-select the USB port and enable only the TCP/IP port and save the settings.
Once everything is ready, you can try printing a test page on your now-wireless printer. If everything goes okay, you would be able to use your printer from anywhere within the range of the WiFi network coverage. Now you can use any WiFi enabled device including your Android smartphone (see how to print from Android smartphone) to print through your printer. This is great setup for a small office. The only shortcoming is that you can use just the printing function of a multi-function printer via this setup – for everything else like scanning and photocopying, you would have to use the wired connection.
Conclusion: If you do not want to spend on a wireless printer but still want to reap the benefits of wireless printing, then you can convert your old wired printer into a wireless printer using any WiFi print server device. Wireless print servers do not take extra space and can save a lot of money that you would have spent on costly wireless printers.