Time and again, organizations underestimate the importance of monitoring their print servers. Network printers or multifunction devices usually have integrated print servers as standard. As a result, print servers can be found in almost any IT environment and also in many private households. This is why print server monitoring is actually a step that organizations of all sizes should implement, even before using print fleet management software. In this blog, I will show you how to monitor your print servers properly.

What is a print server?

Printers and plotters usually receive their printing job from a print server. As already mentioned, these can be integrated into the printer itself. If the number of printers in the company exceeds a reasonable number, it is worthwhile to set up print servers as dedicated hardware servers. Hardware manufacturers such as Hawkins, Linksys or IOGear also offer small, external print servers that can be connected to the printer or other devices via USB, LAN or other interfaces. Print servers can also be set up as server applications under Windows, Linux and Unix.

Print servers are primarily used to make printers available to users via the network. However, they also facilitate the administration of printers and print job queues. Administrators or users can also use print servers to assign print jobs to individual printers according to specific rules. For example, a print server can automatically send a print job to the printer that is easiest for the employee to reach.

This belongs in print server monitoring

If print jobs are not printed in the right place, sensitive information may fall into the wrong hands. For this reason alone, print server monitoring is particularly important and should be part of your server monitoring. You should also keep an eye on the number of print jobs you send. If too many print jobs are sent but not processed, the printer could be defective. If employees also have to wait unnecessarily long for documents to be printed, this reduces work efficiency.

Many printer manufacturers supply their own monitoring tools, but it is relatively costly to operate a monitoring tool only for the printer solutions from one specific manufacturer, especially as these often have only limited alarming functions. In addition, many classic infrastructure monitoring tools do not adequately support print servers and thus cannot properly detect problems.

Checkmk offers several options for monitoring printer servers. For Linux and Unix servers, an agent plug-in is available that can monitor the printer queue by requesting the necessary data via CUPS. CUPS stands for “Common Unix Printing System” and is the most widely used printing system on Linux and Unix systems. There is also an agent plug-in for Windows that transfers the data from the respective Windows service to the monitoring.

Monitoring services of a printer in Checkmk

Checkmk additionally comes with SNMP plug-ins for printers and uses these to monitor print servers from various manufacturers. There are also manufacturer-specific plug-ins for the direct monitoring of printers. With manufacturers such as Canon, Zebra or Ricoh, Checkmk can not only check the status of print jobs, but also details on the state of the paper supply as well as ink and toner.

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