Why We Hate Our Printers (And How to Love Them Again)

Posted on March 31, 2015

IhatemyprinterLast week, Wall Street Journal Personal Technology reporter Joanna Stern said what we all think when she wrote, ?I want to kill my printer. I have come to believe that living inside the machine is a tiny demon whose sole purpose is to torture me with paper jams and failed wireless connections. When things are working, it chugs my $50 ink like it?s an open bar. So, yes, I repeatedly think about taking a baseball bat to the possessed plastic contraption.

?It?s 2015, and while the smartphones in our pockets juggle the jobs of numerous gadgets, printers still seem to struggle at their single task.?

Stern was writing about low-cost consumer printers, but her complaints resonate with nearly everyone who deals with the complexities of getting documents, presentations, pictures, emails and other kinds of digital data onto the printed page. To put it bluntly, most of us hate our printers. There are three main reasons.

  • Connectivity is too hard
  • Driver management is a nightmare
  • Printers are fundamentally unreliable

?Running a printer network for a growing business has never been more difficult,? says Jared Hansen, CEO and founder of secure mobile printing leader Breezy. ?In addition to installing, maintaining, supplying, and tracking all of the devices, supplies and users, there?s the issue of preventing connected printers from becoming another vulnerability point where data can leak or be compromised. When printers required a local, hard-wired connection, the primary worry was sensitive documents left in a printer tray where they could be seen by those who walked by. That?s still a concern, of course, which is why IT is increasingly turning to pull-printing (where a user must be physically present at the printer before the document is released to print).

?But modern multi-function printers are almost always connected to the company network and the Internet, to give mobile device users the flexibility to print wirelessly. This evolution changed the landscape completely when it comes to connectivity and security.?

Add in the nightmare of trying to find, install, and manage all of the drivers required in a bring your own device (BYOD) environment, and it?s no wonder that many in IT are joining the consumers who snarl, ?I hate my printer!?

How to Stop Worrying & Learn to Love Your Printer

For enterprise IT, the two biggest worries are printer support and security. One issue that has plagued IT since the earliest days of the office printer is driver management.

Initially, that problem was solved by standardizing on a single brand ? and often a single model ? of printer, and a single operating system for computers connected to the printer network. Laptop and notebook computers have been around since the 1980?s, but didn?t become mainstream business tools until the mid-1990?s when built-in high-speed modems made them more attractive for on-the-go businesspeople who needed a reliable, connected device. And that?s when the driver management problem exploded.

Twenty years ago, a ?typical? office had one (expensive) color printer reserved for management or marketing, and several laser printer hubs. A few department heads or ?special case? workers would have inkjet printers on their desk. There would be one company-approved brand and model of PC, and one company-approved brand and model of laptop, and (probably) one supported word processing, spreadsheet, presentation and email program from which documents were printed to company printers.

There was no ?need? to worry about how an auditor or sales rep who was working remotely printed. They just used ?sneaker net? ? storing the document they wanted to print on a floppy disk, and walking it to another computer attached to the printer they wanted to use. As long as they didn?t lose the diskette, everything was fine. Cumbersome and slow, but fine.

That was then. Today?s IT environment is radically different, with personally owned devices in 74% of global enterprises. Even if your company still issues company-owned laptops, chances are that employees are accessing email on mobile phones and tablets, and working remotely (from a home office, client site, or shared workspace) at least part of the time. The demands on the printer fleet have never been greater, and the challenges IT faces in managing the printer fleet have never been more complex.

In 2011, Breezy became the industry?s first printer-agnostic secure mobile printing solution that met compliance standards and enabled secure printing from any mobile device, over a secure partner network of public printers or a company?s printer fleet. This achieved two vital goals:

  • Solved the problem of constantly updating printer drivers and making sure that every potential device was supported.
  • Provided on-device encryption to protect company data.

?Mobile device users need reliable wireless printing,? Hansen says. ?And companies need to be able to provide access to wireless printing without taking on a printer driver nightmare or giving hackers an open door to company data. That?s what Breezy does: we close the gaps to deliver easy-to-use, easy-to-manage, secure mobile printing.?

Breezy?s secure mobile printing technology is fully integrated with leading EMM providers like AirWatch, Citrix, Good Technology, IBM (Fiberlink?s MaaS360), MobileIron and many others, and can add an extra layer of protection to the mobile devices that connect to your network or store your data. For more information on mobile device security and secure mobile printing,

Photo credit: The image of the unloved, discarded printers was offered on Pixabay under a Creative Commons License.

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