Pull printing, sometimes known as secured printing, enables organizations to add layers of security and print verification to their print networks. It is the process of holding a print job on a server or IP network until the user authenticates themselves at a printer and the printer “pulls” the print queue in to be printed.

Verification can be handled with an app, username and password, chip and pin, or some form of badge depending on hardware and software. In most cases, it also requires an organization-wide print management software system linking all printers to the same network.

Pull printing enables user authentication, empty-tray policies, and better data security for print jobs, even from individuals working with private or secure data. However, with pros and cons, pull printing isn’t for every organization. This article should help you determine if pull printing is a good fit for your business.

Pros of Pull Printing

Pull printing offers a lot of advantages for organizations looking to increase security and reduce waste printing.

Increased Security

Most organizations implementing pull printing do so for security reasons. Pull printing allows an individual to send files to a print queue which they can then access from a printer using their personal authentication method. This puts the user firmly in control of how and where their files are printed.

  • Files are not printed until an individual is physically at the printer location
  • Users have to authenticate to access print jobs
  • Users have more difficulty leaving print files in the tray because they have to walk to the printer and choose to print

This can reduce some of the many security risks involved with printing by making it harder for individuals to accidentally or purposely access sensitive data via printers. In fact, it’s one of the primary measures recommended by organizations like Gartner for reducing data loss and theft.

Reduced Print Waste

Traditional printing means that an individual can simply hit “print” from their workstation and the printer automatically picks up and runs the print job. Historically, most employees have a habit of doing so and then taking their time to actually pick up files. This can result in considerable print waste, because people get distracted, go on to other jobs, and often forget to immediately pick up documents. They then often have to reprint because they forgot the document was already printed, someone else moved the documents, or the documents were actually thrown away.

Pull printing means that print files are sent to the printer via a server or direct IP and stored there until the individual is ready to go collect documents. This can substantially reduce instances of double printing files.

Implementing organization-wide print-management also allows organizations to implement print standards, forcing print-queue files into certain font-size, margin, and font standards or even enforcing duplex printing. This can reduce the total volume of waste paper and dramatically cut print costs.

Decreased Usage of Personal Printers

Many individuals are issued personal printers for privacy, security, and convenience reasons. Pull printing allows you to nearly eliminate these devices by securing print jobs in other ways. This can reduce hardware costs and improve the simplicity of your print network.

Improved Time-Efficiency

Pull printing offers considerable efficiency in that it allows individuals to create a print queue from a compatible device, and then access it from any printer on the network. This means that someone can send a file to print, access the printer nearest to them, and then simply log in and print the file. While some pull printing still requires individuals to install local printers first, most do not.

  • Individuals can simply move to another printer if theirs is broken or out of paper
  • Individuals can print wherever they are without helpdesk calls
  • Print queues can be as short or long as the individual likes. This means one person can schedule everything they need to print at once, without having to walk back and forth between computer and printer.

Cons of Pull Printing

Pull printing has a lot of advantages but it isn’t the only solution and it isn’t for every organization. The following cons primarily revolve around costs and hardware.

Costs

Pull printing means implementing compatible hardware and software. Depending on your organization’s needs and existing setup, you may have to lease multi-function printers per office or designated print area, may have to upgrade existing printers, and will have to lease or purchase software.

  • Browser-based – Many printer manufacturers offer browser-based pull printing apps. These allow organizations to implement separate devices to release pull-printing to nearby printers, sometimes without investing in separate print hardware. This offers a cost-effective but non-native solution for organizations with an existing print-fleet.
  • Card Reader – Here, printers feature an external badge reader, which implements directly into the organization’s existing badge or card system. This is the most cost-effective solution for organizations with existing user access management protocols.
  • Console – Touchscreen printers support username-password or pin code access.

No matter which option you choose, pull printing requires that printers have a universal print driver (UPD). Implementing user access management is also costly, but can help your organization save money over the long-term through improved control of print, better security, and reduced print waste.

Complexity

Pull printing is essentially two-step verification for print. It adds a stage of complexity to printing, meaning that individuals take time to log in before printing. If security and reduced print-waste are not desirable, this may unnecessarily increase time-to-print for specific organizations.

Choosing Pull Printing

Pull printing is increasingly popular and many managed print service providers offer it as a standard service. A managed print services provider will assess business needs, optimize printer placement for your office, and select print management software that best meets your operational and print needs. This will most likely include pull printing, with user access management solutions designed to best meet your budget and existing systems.

You can also choose to implement pull printing on your own, sometimes using existing multi-function printers. Here, you simply need compatible software, to change drivers to universal print drivers, and typically authentication hardware or software at the printer itself.