The case of the Disappearing Ink!
February 22, 2007 11:38 AM   Subscribe

Help me track down the source of the excessive printing in my office! There's...

In my office, I have a printer physically connected to my computer. All the other computers in the office print to this printer through File and Printer Sharing. It's probably not the best way to set it up, but that's what I'm working with.

Our toner cartridges have been going empty in about a fifth of the time they have lasted in the past. Obviously, the problem is coming from someone printing an excessive amount.

I need a way to log what is being printed from what computers, and hopefully from what user on those computers (a couple are shared machines).

Is there any easy way to do this?
posted by Willie0248 to Computers & Internet (9 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Watch who comes to your desk to pick up their print outs?
posted by tristeza at 12:03 PM on February 22, 2007

Can you tell your printer to add a banner sheet in between print jobs? That will end up using more paper, but the banner sheets can be used to identify individual print requests. (You can probably state to coworkers that this new system is to help ensure that the multiple requests don't get mixed - and leave a box next to the printer to "recycle" the banner sheets.)
posted by caution live frogs at 12:13 PM on February 22, 2007

There is plenty of software that will maintain a print log. Just do a Google search.
posted by JJ86 at 12:16 PM on February 22, 2007

You should have an event in the system event log (or is it application event log?) on the print server for every print job. If you do not, open the Printers and Faxes folder on the PC acting as a print server and select Files and then pick Printer Server Properties. From there you can turn on "Log Spooler Information Events". I believe this will cause every print job to record an event with the user who created the print job.
posted by internal at 12:47 PM on February 22, 2007

Alright, I can get to a printing log and monitor the information now...

BUT, all the remote printing is done by "guest." Is there a way to set up a password for the shared printer and have accounts for every individual?
posted by Willie0248 at 1:42 PM on February 22, 2007

If you're mostly concerned about using too much toner you could announce to everybody that there's been a shocking and expensive increase in printing and that everyone should chill on non-essential, non-work printing. You could announce, if the problem doesn't resolve itself, that you're going to be looking at print logs.

Simply installing logging secretly and announcing "gotcha!" is a sure fire way to bork morale.
posted by donovan at 3:38 PM on February 22, 2007

yes there are ways to restrict the permissions etc, but I think that is the wrong way to go in the long term. Here are some ideas:

1) Change the name of your printer share. Make the new name have a $ at the end. This will mean that nobody can stumble upon your printer, and can only add it if they know the name and got it from you or your computer. Anybody who needs the printer can ask you for the new name when their connection stops working.

2) Change the printer paper to Goldenrod or feucha. Find out who's burried in pink.

Or more seriously,

3) In a non-domain situation, you'd need to create local accounts and usernames/passswords for each remote user. Create these user using the Computer Management console, not the Control Panel applet. Right click the printer and under "security" deny any guest or anonymous users from printing. Add the new printer user accounts to the list of local users that can print to that printer.
On the remote computers, use "NET USE LPT1 \\yourpcname\yourprintershare /user:usernameyousetup /persistent:yes "
(you might need to tweak this a bit). then add a new local printer with the same driver pointing at LPT1 locally.

From here you can have the local logs show which user permission is printing to the printer.

That's a lot of work, and non-anonymous non-domain printer sharing isn't as reliable in the windows environment.

So, I'd say options 1 or 2 is more like it.

Remember that unless you have users on other computers logging in with information about who they are, you'll never know who was printing anything.

This kind of auditing is one more reason why domains are the way to go.
posted by upc_head at 6:20 PM on February 22, 2007

Awesome, that works great!
posted by Willie0248 at 9:12 AM on February 23, 2007

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