BRAVO TECHNOLOGY CENTER

Remote Printing Options by Sam C. Chan
 
First Published:   January 9, 2014
Last Reviewed:  April 6, 2017

You're at computer A, remote into computer B 1000 miles away, running programs on B, but want to print at A...
There are about 20 solutions,  falling into 5 broad strategic categories.

HINT: does not involve a verrrrry long cable!

  1. via Document transfer schemes
    1. document format strategies
      1. transfer original document directly to print locally
        • requires same program installed on client-side
        • some highly protected software might not permit such parallel print due to licensing restrictions
      2. generate intermediary document at host
        • >>> print to PDF at host, transfer it somehow, and print locally
        • raw SPL or LPR files (advanced scripting only, not for users)
    2. transfer mechanism
      • use RDP drive capture (exposes client drives to host)
      • through Internet-hosted storage: Mach-4, OneDrive, G-Drive
      • upload to self at home NAS (public facing)
      • via webmail attachments  <<< SIMPLEST!
         
  2. use TCP/IP network-based printing
    1. network communications
      • cross-LAN traversal via NAT/PAT
      • VPN (in a true sense: Remote Node, not web proxy)
      • made public facing (direct exposured on WAN, or via port forward)
      • wifi on client-side must be Infrastructure AP, not ad-hoc mode, no Wifi Direct
    2. converting printer to be network-capable + expose to WAN
      • dedicated appliance print server + intelligent slave printer (PCL/Postscript), which rules out all low-end inkjet printers, as they are "host-based"
      • dedicated PC print server + dumb slave printer (so-called host-based)
         
  3. RDP printing device capture (a form of integrated redirector)
    • it does install the remote printer driver at host-side
    • no admin control over the redirection scheme and parameters
    • print traffic is encapsulated into the same TCP stream on port 3389
    • complex and extremely unreliable, esp. for consumer printers (host-based)
    • O.S. version slight mismatch
    • RDP version slightest mismatch
    • typically hopeless battle of x86 vs x64 at all levels
       
  4. host-side virtual driver, printing abstraction and integrated redirection
    • PC-Anywhere (Symantec) approach
    • TSPrint $399 unlimited on a TS Server per location, or $79 per host
    • redirecting print API, not rendered on host side, uses client-side driver
       
  5. setup client-side printer as Web Service Printer
    • implement Web Services for Devices (WSD), a Microsoft API
    • Sign up with one of the several WSD Printing providers:
      Google, HP, Samsung, Brother, Canon, Epson
    • make home printer available to the world, with authentication

Pertinent Conceptual Points

  • layers & prerequisites
  • astronormical permutation
  • exact likely scenarios
  • sensibility:
    • how often do you print remotely?
    • how seamless does it need to be?
  • security considerations
  • jurisdiction & control required at which entity/layer?
  • printer support of protocols
  • driver availability for certain O.S. platforms
  • cross-architecture (x86 ↔ x64)
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