Linksys Instant GigaDrive20GB Network Drive, Print Server, DHCP Server, 10/100 Autosensing Network Interface.
This unit can also act as a Print Server. Although this is part of the Advanced Features covered in the review, I thought it deserved a little special attention.
The only printer I had available to test with was an HP820Cse Deskjet. I simply: shutdown the Instant GigaDrive, connected the printer cable, and rebooted.
Once the Instant GigaDrive had rebooted I used the Windows 'Add Printer' tool to located and add the printer that was now connected to the Instant GigaDrive. This required installing (on the client system) the appropriate print drivers.
--- Editorial: HP Rant---
Through no fault of Linksys I really got stuck at this point. Why? Because of our good friends over at Hewlett Packard!
Let me point out that I'm no stranger to solving Hardware problems. I worked in an Intel processor/chipset validation lab where I built server/workstation system from scratch for testing (sometimes with new/beta hardware peripherals - like SCSI controllers, etc.). Basically, I use to beat my head against the wall for a living. This one took me an hour and a half to figure out! (...Maybe I was stupid and missed something - it happens).
Until I got creative, I could not instal the printer. When you install a network printer, you must either choose the printer from the Windows drivers list (which is rather small), or provide a driver disk supplied by the manufacturer. The 820Cse printer that I was using to test with did not have a Windows 9x driver (supplied by Microsoft). The only option I had was to use the manufacturer supplied drives. Our thoughtful friends over at HP decided to make their drivers installable ONLY through their Setup.exe file. Windows could not use the driver *.inf file or the Setup.exe file to instal the printer. But, our HP friends were not done making my life miserable! To make sure I could not instal the printer through a network, they placed the final nail in the coffin: Setup.exe ONLY looks for the printer on the local LPT ports! There is no option whatsoever to look for the printer on a network.
After about an hour and a half of playing around on HP's website I could find no answers. I really can't believe that HP didn't cover this issue (shame shame!). I was about to give up when I noticed there was a specific Windows 95 driver file that was fairly old, and had been created as a 'slim' driver for 'hardware weak' Windows 95 systems. I downloaded it to see if it would help out and, to my delight, this particular driver would instal on it's own without the use of a Setup.exe file. I'd like to thank the good HP driver engineers for wasting an hour and a half of my life (and raising my blood pressure).
--- End Editorial ---
If I had not had driver problems, the installation of a Instant GigaDrive supported network printer would have only taken 5 minutes. I had no issues using the printer through the Instant GigaDrive. It performed as well as if it had been connected directly. I was even able to perform maintenance tasks through the drivers maintenance utility (such as print head cleaning and head alignment). Even while transferring large files to the driver, the printer responded quickly when documents were sent to it.
The printer support works flawlessly. Let's move on and take look at the Advanced Features, and Administrative control.