Drivers are a pain. Seriously.
Just ask any system administrator, or sysadmin. Spend a day in their shoes and you’ll quickly realize how much of a headache it is to keep up with drivers. It takes an absurd amount of time, too.
Unfortunately, drivers are completely necessary and unavoidable. They’re how operating systems and hardware or software communicates. In short, they’re what makes things work.
Here are six issues that sysadmins or even end-users run into when trying to use printer drivers.
You can’t find the drivers
Or they just don’t match. When picking a printer driver, there are a ton of things to consider. First, you have to think about the user and what kind of workstation they actually use. Is it Windows? Mac? Something completely different?
Then, you have to figure out where you’re loading the driver. Are you installing on the server? What type of server are you using? Keep in mind that there are different drivers for different operating systems. Even if you’ve used the same one forever, it’s important to make sure that that driver is still compatible.
Drivers are out-of-date
As with all technology, printers get updates and change the way things work in the background. Drivers need to continue with those changes. It’s not uncommon for devices to get new features or a different way of relaying features. For the best experience, the driver needs to be able to do that as well. This is why it’s key to regularly update device drivers. Some drivers are automatically updated and installed. Windows 10 is one example. On other occasions, drivers need to be manually updated.
Different devices have different drivers
The options seem limitless. But there is a limit! The key to being successful in business is having a competitive advantage. That influences why many manufacturers create their own unique drivers for their devices. How else can you keep away the competition?
There are devices that can only use specific languages like PostScript, or PS, and Printer Command Language, or PCL. Universal drivers are another option. Most are created to work with many different models, but they have limitations. They are compatible with a range of devices, but may not always have the specific features you’re looking for.
Windows or Mac?
It’s an age-old debate that finds many die-hards on one side or the other, but when it comes to printer drivers, you have to play both sides. The two most well-known operating systems are built on different languages. This often causes some frustration for new sysadmins who are trying to find what they need.
If you have a Windows server hosting your print queues, Macs may not get the necessary drivers. The same holds true when you have a Mac server and Windows devices. This mismatch creates some issues that may require complex configurations or multiple drivers.
You click print, go to the printer, and nothing’s there.
This is usually the best outcome when you have a driver issue. There are problems that can affect other people or even affect your budget. After a queue goes into error, jobs sent by other users may not print either.
Sometimes an MFP will continuously print rubbish. In the background, the device is expecting a certain language like PS or PCL. If the language doesn’t tell the device to “END” the job, then it’ll keep printing until it gets the correct command. You could end up printing hundreds of pages unless someone is at the copier to cancel the print job.
Everything prints wrong
Wrong driver, wrong print job, unhappy user. As the main communicator, printer drivers tell devices exactly what to do. With the wrong driver, an MFP has no idea whether it should staple, print in color, or collate pages. For businesses, these finishing options can be critical to keeping productivity on pace.
Configuring a printer driver with the wrong port could send a job to the wrong queue, never to be found. Or it could be found by someone. Even companies with different brands of devices can see how important it is to have the right driver. If you set your job to print to Brand A and it prints to Brand B, there’s no telling what it’s going to do. They don’t speak the same language.
Maybe you’ve tried to set up a printer on your own and had a tough time finding the right driver.
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