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From the author of Sharing Printers over the Internet

Sharing Printers over the Internet

Another advanced printer sharing topic we'll discuss is printing over the Internet. We'll configure Windows to securely share a printer using the Internet Printing Protocol (IIP). Then we'll see how to remotely print.

If you travel regularly or are a mobile user, this can be rather useful. Instead of waiting to print off your documents while on a trip or at local Wi-Fi hotspot, you could hit Print from your laptop.

Then when you get back home or to the office, you'll have your papers sitting in the printer or already taken care of by an assistant.

Although you can use almost any Windows version to remotely print from, the feature we'll use to host the printer over the Internet requires Windows XP Professional or Vista Business/Ultimate.

First, we need to make sure that the Internet Information Services (IIS) component is installed on this computer. In Vista, you want to open the Control Panel, click Programs, click Programs and Features, and then click the Turn Windows features on or off link.

In XP, open the Control Panel, click Add or Remove Programs, and then click Add/Remove Windows Components.

For either Windows version, select the Internet Information Services (IIS) component and click OK to install it.

Then on the host computer, you should use Windows Firewall to open port 80. If you have any other firewall utility, you should also configure it.

Opening the web port lets you go to the printer web page, which is automatically served by IIS.

To see if everything is working, open the printer web page on the host computer by typing http://localhost/printer into a browser.

You should be prompted for the username and password of the Windows account. As Figure 4 shows, it should list the shared printers connected to the host computer.

To view this page from other PCs on the network, type the host computer's IP address preceding the printer directory; for example,

Though it's not required, you can configure your network router to forward port 80 to the host computer's IP address.

This will let you view the printer web page from other networks or locations, in which you'd enter the home/office Internet IP address, followed by the printer directory into a browser.

Before hitting the road, you should preconfigure your laptop or PC with the Internet-sharing printer.

To do so, open the printer web page, browse to the Properties page of the desired printer, and get the Network Name (for example, http://x.x.x.x/printers/Printer/.printer).

If you bring up the printer page using the Internet connection IP address, you can simply click the Connect link on the printer web page to configure the printer.

However, if you didn't set up your router to forward the web traffic to the host computer, you need to use the Add a Printer Wizard.

Open the Control Panel, browse to the Printer (or Printer and Faxes) window, and click the Add Printer icon.

Using the wizard that appears, specify that it's a network (not local) printer, and then type in the network name of the printer using the Internet IP address (see Figure 5).

Note: If your Internet connection uses a dynamic IP address, which is typically the case for residential and small business class service, you should use a Dynamic DNS (DDNS) service. This gives you a host name (such as yourname.getmyip.com) to use instead of your Internet connection's IP address. Places like No-IP and DynDNS provide limited free service.

Configuring your router with the DDNS service will keep the host name updated with the IP address when it changes. Therefore, if your IP changes when you are away, you can still remotely print. In the instructions we discussed, you'd simply replace your Internet IP with the host name; for example your printer's Network Name might be http://yourname.getmyip.com/printers/Printer/.printer.

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