Printing Inside VPN
December 19, 2007 8:03 PM   Subscribe

How do I print when inside VPN?

I work at home, utilizing VPN access for my notebook. I also need to print documents throughout the day. However, my Wifi enabled printer can currently not be seen once I log into VPN, and my machine thinks it is on my corporate network.

Is there a solution to print to this (or a new printer, which I need a new one of... suggestions?) printer so I can print my documents from my office (couch) with my printer having to be next to the phone port (since it is also a fax machine).
posted by benjh to Computers & Internet (10 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
The most obvious solution is simply to mail the documents to yourself at a non-work address accessible from outside the VPN (such as a gmail address), log in from outside the VPN and print that way. This may not be permitted from your work, but if it is it will work. Otherwise, some VPN clients will map local printers, but without knowing more about your setup I can't help with that.
posted by The Bellman at 8:13 PM on December 19, 2007

Can't send outside the network.

I can connect a printer to USB, but I can't see a network printer when in VPN.
posted by benjh at 8:16 PM on December 19, 2007

I assume you're using the Windows VPN client?

Open the VPN to where it's asking for your username/password. Click Properties, and go to the Networking tab. Under "This connection uses the following items", click on "Internet Protocol (TCP/IP)", and then click Properties.

On the window that comes up, click the Advanced button. On the next window, on the General tab, uncheck the "Use default gateway on remote network."

Click OK three times to get back to the sign-on screen.

So what does this change do? Normally when you're on the VPN, all of your network traffic goes through the VPN, which not only is keeping you from printing, but also means all your web surfing and other traffic go through it as well. This change makes it so only traffic destined for the office goes through the VPN. Everything else -- general Internet, printing, etc -- goes through your home network.

This may or may not work -- some setups aren't compatible with this setting. But most are. Worst case, if it screws things up, follow my instructions again except make sure the box is checked, and everything's back to normal.
posted by CrayDrygu at 8:31 PM on December 19, 2007 [2 favorites]

I'm not as familiar with the Windows pptp VPN, but most VPN servers give the administrator the option to force all traffic through the VPN or allow for split tunneling. My current employer allows the split tunnel - only traffic destined for our LAN is sent through the tunnel, and internet/other traffic is routed out the VPN user's default gateway. Some companies force traffic through the tunnel so they can log your traffic while you're connected, usually because there are concerns about security, sharing of proprietary info over webmail/IM mediums, etc.

I'm of the mind that, if you are set up with the type of VPN server forcing all of your traffic to route through the tunnel, checking or unchecking that box won't do it for you. If you don't use the default gateway it just won't pass anything.

Another issue - your local LAN may be using the same private IP subnet as your work LAN. That can cause issues even with a split tunneling set up. So if your printer, for example, is and your work LAN is on, it may be looking for your printer on the other side of the tunnel.

Ask the network admin whether split tunnels are allowed. Try checking/unchecking the default gateway thing that Cray mentions. Check to see if the networks overlap - if that's the issue, and your home network is small, sometimes it's easier to just re-address things.
posted by routergirl at 8:58 PM on December 19, 2007

Before you change anything, could you do the following:

0. Log off the VPN, and verify that you can now print to your wifi printer.

1. Open up a cmd window (Start->Run, type cmd in the box, hit Enter)

2. Into the cmd window, type the following commands:

cd \
route print >novpn.txt

3. Log onto the VPN, and verify that you can't print any more.

4. Into the cmd window, type the following commands:

route print >withvpn.txt

5. Paste the contents of C:\novpn.txt and C:\withvpn.txt into a reply in this thread.
posted by flabdablet at 2:11 AM on December 20, 2007

My thinking here is that if your corporate sysadmin has set things up so your default gateway is inside the VPN, then they really do want all your network traffic going that way when you're logged on, probably mainly for security reasons. If your laptop has both a VPN connection to the inside of your corporate firewall and a non-corporate-controllable Internet connection direct to the outside world, it represents a pretty major hole in the firewall. It would take a pretty slack sysadmin to rely on this setup for corporate security, but I have met some pretty slack sysadmins.

So, rather than change the default gateway and make your sysadmin deeply unhappy, I'm thinking it might make sense to leave the default gateway set just as it is, and set up an explicit route to your own LAN for stuff like your printer. This means that your outside-world traffic is still subject to corporate filtration, but you still get network access to your own LAN. Effectively, you'd be moving just your LAN inside the corporate firewall instead of the whole world.

Making this work would involve writing a two or three line .cmd script that you'd click on between logging on to the VPN and attempting to print.
posted by flabdablet at 2:21 AM on December 20, 2007

If you don't need the hardcopy immediately, then install a pdf print drive such as "cute pdf." When the vpn is "on", create pdfs of the output instead of hardcopy. Later, when vpn is "off", print the pdfs.
posted by Kevin S at 8:49 AM on December 20, 2007

that should be "print driver"
posted by Kevin S at 8:50 AM on December 20, 2007

I have the same problem with my VPN connection.

Have you tried pausing your printer queue, print all your docs to the paused queue, disconnect from the VPN and then resume the queue?
posted by indigo4963 at 8:58 AM on December 20, 2007

similar to Kevin S's solution.
posted by indigo4963 at 8:59 AM on December 20, 2007

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