SOHO Multifunction Devices – CompTIA A+ 220-1001 – 3.10

Configuring a multifunction device can be more challenging that it first appears. In this video, you’ll learn about some of the configuration settings, wired and wireless sharing options, and data privacy concerns regarding multifunction devices.

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A SOHO stands for small office or home office. This describes environments where you’re working at home or you’re working in a smaller, remote office. The devices that you would have in a SOHO are often a bit different than the devices that you might have in a larger environment.

For example, a multifunction device like this one is very common in a SOHO environment. It’s a single device that is a printer, a scanner, a fax machine, there’s a network connection on this device, it has a phone line connection, and it can print from the web.

Because this device does so many different things, there are often many things that can go wrong with it. So it’s important to understand some of the major components of these SOHO multifunction devices.

To be able to print to one of these multifunction devices, you have to use a printer driver. These printer drivers will be specific to the model of multifunction device. So you want to make sure you know exactly what the model number is of that component.

Then you have to be sure you have the correct printer drivers. There are often different printer drivers for the different operating systems. So if you’re running Windows 7, you have to make sure you have the Windows 7 printer driver. If you’re running Windows 10, then you have to have the Windows 10 version of this printer driver for this specific multifunction device model.

You also have to make sure that you’re using the right type of printer driver for the operating system version that you’re using. For example, a 32-bit version of the printer driver is different than the 64-bit version of the printer driver. So make sure you’re installing the correct printer driver for the type of operating system that you’re using.

The manufacturers of these multifunction devices are often creating these printer drivers to be very different between different operating systems. So you want to be sure that you don’t install a Windows 7 print driver on Windows 10 or Windows 8 version of Windows 7. Make sure you’re using exactly the right print driver for the operating system that’s installed.

When you send print jobs to these multifunction devices, it may ask if you want to print in a duplex mode. Duplex means that the printer will print on both sides of the paper without you having to manually flip the paper over between the sides.

There is usually some hardware inside of the multifunction device that provides this duplexing capability. That means that not all multifunction devices have the ability to print on both sides of the paper with this duplex function. But if it is available, it will be an option inside of your printer driver.

If you’re printing multiple copies of a job that has multiple pages, you might have the option to collate these pages on the printer. This will decide how the printer prints these pages.

For example, if you’re printing four copies of a four page document and you print it non-collated, the printer will output page 1, page 1, page 1, and page 1, and then will begin printing page 2, page 2, page 2, and page 2, and so on.

If you tell the printer to print in a collated form, then it will print all of the pages in order for all copies. So if you have four pages and four copies, then you’ll print page 1, 2, 3, and 4. And then it will start over and print page 1, 2, 3, and 4.

This collated printing makes it easier to separate out these copies once the print outs are done. There’s no extra work that has to be done other than separating those four pages apart and handing them out to the users.

When sending the print job, you might also be asked if you want to change the orientation of the print out. This will determine how the printer prints, whether it will be a portrait mode or landscape mode. Those two terms are referring to how we commonly see those types of output.

A portrait is usually taller from top to bottom. And a landscape is usually wider from left to right. When you’re printing to the printer, the page on the printer doesn’t physically rotate. Instead, the printer will change how it’s printing depending on whether you choose portrait or landscape.

Many printers will also allow you to change the quality settings of the output. For example, you may be asked to change the resolution of your output. If this is a graphical output, then the higher resolution will look much better than a lower resolution.

You might also be able to decide whether you’ll print in color or whether it will be in shades of gray or gray scale. You might also have the option to print in a color saving mode so that you’re using less toner or less ink than a normal print out.

If we’re connecting to one of these multifunction devices with a cable, then we’re usually using a USB connection. And one of the most common USB types on these multifunction devices is a Type B connector on the printer. You often see the normal USB Type A connector that plugs into the computer.

If this is an older multifunction device or printer, it may not be using USB. It may be using the older parallel connection. This is commonly referred to as a DB-25 or parallel connection. And you’ll see the DB-25 connector on your computer.

Commonly on the printer, however, we usually see a centronics connection, which is very different than the DB-25. Here’s a comparison of these two. The centronics is the type of connection that you would commonly see on the printer. And they’re usually locking connections on the sides that’ll allow you to lock it in place on the back of the printer.

The DB-25 parallel connection is on the other side. And this is what commonly plugs into the computer. And if this is a device that allows you to connect to a wired network, then there will usually be an RJ45 connector that allows you to plug into your ethernet network.

Of course, your printer may not have a wired connection. You may have wireless connectivity to that printing device. For example, it’s common to see Bluetooth connectivity on many printers so that you can print directly to the printer from a mobile device. Bluetooth obviously has a limited range. But if this is a SOHO environment, then you’re probably not very far away from the printer.

It’s probably more common to see these multifunction devices and printers connect to our existing 802.11 wireless network. If you’re a printer is connecting to this wireless network using an access point in your SOHO, then we call this infrastructure mode. That means that all of your devices are connecting to this access point. And the access point allows all of the devices to communicate between each other.

Some printers also allow you to communicate over 802.11 but not using an access point. In these environments, you’re communicating directly between the printer and your local device. We call this mode ad hoc mode. There’s no access point to connect to. And there’s usually additional configuration settings you’ll have to turn on to be able to communicate directly to the printer without using an access point.

Many of these network-connected printers are able to manage all of the print jobs inside of the printer itself. These devices have an integrated print server, which means you’re sending all of your print jobs directly to this device and all of those jobs are being queued internally inside of this printer.

This also means if you need to delete a print job or change the priority of a print job, you’ll need to do that on the printer directly. You can sometimes manage this from the front panel of the printer. But it’s usually more common to have a web-based front-end that allows you to connect to this printer using your browser or there might be an application that you run on your workstation that allows you to control the jobs on that printer.

Many printers also support cloud printing. This allows you to print from a mobile device wherever you happen to be back to your printer wherever it happens to be. This means that from your mobile device, you would send all of your print jobs to the cloud. And the cloud then sends those print jobs down to the printer. You’ll see cloud printing options available from many organizations, such as Google, Brother, HP, and others.

When you’re printing from a Windows device to one of these network connected printers you can usually give the name of the printer and Windows will be able to find that printer on the network. But occasionally, you have to specify an IP address and the network ports that are used by that printing process. On Windows, it’s common to see network ports of tcp/129, tcp/445, and udp ports 137 and 138.

If you’re configuring a local firewall on your computer to provide printing, then you may have to open those port numbers to allow access to that network printer. If you’re using Mac OS or other Apple devices, you may be using a protocol called Bonjour. This allows your Apple device to find other components on the network, including printers and multifunction devices.

If you’re on a Windows computer and you’ve installed some Apple software, such as iTunes, then you might also be using the Bonjour protocol. And if you have an IOS device, you have the option to print using a technology called AirPrint. AirPrint allows you to print directly from your iOS device to a printer that is AirPrint compatible.

Most operating systems allow you to set permissions on who is able to perform what type of printing services on that printer. For example, you could set up a printer that might allow everyone to print but only a certain group of people to be able to manage that printer.

Another important security concern is what happens to those print jobs once they’ve been printed. When you click the Print button on your computer, your local computer is creating a file that contains that print output. Your computer then sends that file to the print server, which is often contained inside of the printer itself.

That file is put into the print spooler. And the spooler manages what print jobs print at what time and in what order. Once the printer is available and your job comes to the top of the queue, the print spooler then prints that job onto the printer.

On many printers, after your print out is complete, that print spooler file is deleted. But on some printers, the file is kept on the system until space is needed. That means if somebody gains access to those files, they could potentially have access to anything that you’ve printed on that printer. You might want to contact the manufacturer of your printer and find out exactly what happens to those prints spooler files once your print out is complete.