Correct-Tek Copier Repair Services

Saturday, May 30, 2020

Top 5 Ways Nonprofit Organizations Can Save Money

It doesn't matter whether the economy is booming or busting- nonprofit organizations are always interested in saving money.  Of course, "saving money" doesn'tnecessarily have to mean "cutting corners" or "doing withoutaltogether."  There are plenty ofways nonprofit organizations can save money and still operate effectively andefficiently.

1. Accept Donations
Whether you need a few simple pieces of equipment liketelephones and cameras or larger pieces like computers and fax machines,chances are there's a family member, friend, or another business ororganization that's already in the market to upgrade and willing to donate oldsupplies to you.

2. Buy RefurbishedElectronics
If you can't find everything you need through donations,consider buying refurbished electronics. Buying refurbished office equipment like refurbished machines, copiers, printers, fax, telecom systems,computers,  and even cameras is a greatway for nonprofit organizations to save money.
After customers return them to the stores (either becausethey've changed their minds or found some minor problem with the way theelectronics functioned), manufacturers inspect the items and make any repairsbefore certifying they're ready to return to store shelves as"refurbished" items.  Themanufacturers can't sell the items at the same prices as they'd sell brand newitems, so they sell them at significantly lower costs.  Purchasing refurbished electronics at lowercosts than brand new electronics at regular costs helps nonprofit organizationssave money.

3. Look forVolunteers
Many nonprofit organizations already acquire much of theirown legwork through volunteer efforts, but they can also find volunteers todonate time and skills to things like building and designing websites, creatinglogos for contact cards and stationary letterheads, and writing copy forwebsites, newsletters, and fliers.

4. Do It Yourself
While many people have family members or friends (or friendsof friends or family members!) who are skilled at tasks like writing andwebsite and graphic design, not everyone will agree to provide these servicesfor free.  If you can't find someonewilling to donate his or her services, consider doing the jobs yourself.
There are many free and easy-to-use website templatesavailable; these days, setting up a website, costs a little more than just theprice to purchase server space.  If yournonprofit is a local chapter of a national organization, use the national logoand create your own stationary letterhead and contact cards.  If you need to know how to effectively writesimple copy for a newsletter, advertisement, or your website, do a littleresearch online for tips on how to keep your words brief yet effective.

5. Find Freebies
Volunteer work is free for you and many do-it-yourselfprojects are either free or cheap, but keep in mind that there are also toolsavailable that are completely free and in constant supply.

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Thursday, May 21, 2020

What's The Difference Between A Refurbished Copier And A Used Copier?

If you're going to buy a copy machine, you may have heard alot of different terms thrown around, like new, used, re-manufactured, demo andrefurbished.  Not knowing the differencebetween these terms can dramatically affect how much you pay for yourcopier.  Read on to learn the differencebetween a refurbished copier and a used copier.


You probably know this one already, but a new copier isbrand new, and comes directly from an authorized channel, like a dealer ordistributor.  The phrase "authorizedchannel" sounds pretty fancy, but all it really means is that themanufacturer's representative receives commission on the sale.  Just like a new car, new copiers lose a lotof value as soon as they "leave the lot."  Generally if you want a brand new copier,your best and most inexpensive option is through a copier leasing programrather than outright buying it.


Refurbished copymachines have been audited, cleaned, tested, and updated by a third party(not the manufacturer).  Most refurbishedcopiers have been used less than three to six months as rated by theirrespective manufacturer's recommended monthly usage tables, and come with a "sameas brand new" warranty.  Best of all,these copiers are sold at discount levels up to 75% off MSRP.  If you choose this option, just make surethat the company you buy from is as a good reputation and an A-rating with theBetter Business Bureau.


Manufacturers sell refurbished copiers too, but they like tocall them re-manufactured, which means the copy machine was refurbished by themanufacturer itself and not a third party. Re-manufacturing means that themanufacturer tested and updated the equipment. As with the refurbished copiers, these copy machines are usually haveless than three months of use, and have been acquired from off-lease contracts,sales demos, short term rentals and/or corporate downsizing.


Used generally refers to a copy machine that is being soldwithout any repairs, updates, cleaning and limited testing.  When you see a copier sold as used, without awarranty, most likely you're getting it "as-is" and should be awareof the risk you are taking.  Someunscrupulous companies might sell copy machines as "used" that shouldactually be sold for parts.

For the best deal on a copy machine for your business oroffice, your best choice may be a re-manufactured or refurbished copier thatcomes with a warranty.  That way you arespending a lot less money while still benefiting from the protection of awarranty.

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Do Compatible Toners Work For Scanners, Printers, Fax Machines, and Copiers?

The topic of compatible toners is widely talked about andvery important to office goers.  Lots ofpeople find compatible toners a much more efficient way of running their officewhen it comes to meeting all of their printing, scanning, faxing and copyingneeds.

There are often rumors that the compatible toners are lessdesirable to use in the office because of the quality but this is nottrue.  They are tested and made to workand last just as long as original toners.
Before a compatible toner is even made, every part of thetoner is tested, inspected and approved.  

They are then tested after they are built and again picked at random offthe shelf to be tested as well. 

They are built to work just as well as theoriginal.

The percentage of pigments in the compatible toners is thesame and they hold the same quality within the carefully designed formula justas the original toner cartridges are made.

These toners are made from recycled parts that are stillgood to use.  They are also made fromrepaired parts to recycle and conserve resources.  This will help you to give back.  You can go green by helping to reduce theamount of waste coming from toner use in communication equipment.
Compatible toners work for all different types ofmachines.  One might think that they onlywork when used for a printer.  The truthis, a fax machine, copier and scanner all have the basic internal structurewhen it comes to toner use so you can use them for all of the machines.

Most fax, copy scanning and printing machines used in theoffice are all in one machines now. Multi-functional machines have grown to bethe most popular office tool, so it has become more of a priority forcompatible companies to make sure they are top quality to satisfy all businesscommunication needs.

Top compatible toners are made to fit many differentbrands.  Whether they are made fromoriginal parts, refurbished or re-manufactured parts they have been tested andapproved by professionals before they are allowed to go out on the market forsale.

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What Do You Need to Know Before You Buy a Used Copier Or Printer?

Are you considering purchasing a used copier printerall-in-one office equipment from a company out or going out of business? Youneed to think a minute about this. The company is going out of business for areason and the majority of the time it's because of cash flow.

Do you think they would spend their last few dollars havingtheir copier repaired or maintained? Buying a used copier printer from acompany going out of business is like buying a used car from a dirt lot 100miles from a city. It's buyer beware and check your pockets before you leavebecause the seller will be gone!

Last week we received 11 service calls from companies whopurchased used copier printers multi-function office equipment from a businessgoing out of business. This is how most of the copier repair calls start:"Hi, I need somebody to come out to clean a copier because we are gettinglines." or "Hi. we are getting paper jams and we need it fixed rightaway." Then the person tells us they just purchased the used copier at agreat price from a business that failed. Now the company is gone and they cannot get a hold of them.

Do you think once you buy the used copier they will help youif a problem occurs? They sold you the used copier printer, closed the businessand left town for the mountains.

The bottom line is that the average repair on the clients'copiers cost more than what they paid for the usedcopier.

How to prevent this problem:

1. Contact a company who specializes in the used copierprinter. Do not ask you neighbor doctor, nephew lawyer or next doorelectrician. Get a certified technician to review it.

2. Have the copier repair tech check the following: lastcopier maintenance cycle, the amount of life left of the toner, developer anddrum. Get an unbiased view from a technician who will give you a report beforeyou spend a dime on the refurbished or used printer copier.

3. Better yet, get the used copier printer from actualcopier printer dealer. You may pay a few dollars more but it will preventexposing yourself to problems and hundreds of dollars in repair bills later.May companies will give you a quick over the phone estimates of costs to checkthe equipment before you buy it. It only costs you a phone call and could saveyou hundreds of dollars!

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Saturday, April 4, 2020

Choosing the Right ID Card Printer For Your Business

Our modern world has changed the way we do business, andtechnology has certainly changed the way we obtain the photo ID cards necessaryfor that business.  Today in-houseprinting has replaced outsourcing. That's because it's so affordable, and it provides you with a great dealof flexibility. Choosing the right ID card printer for your business isimportant, so take some time to learn what's available, and what it has tooffer.

Choose from single sided, dual sided or laminatingprinters.  Single sided printers are capable of quality printing onone side, in either color or monochrome. Dual sided printers offer the same quality, but they can print on bothsides.  They also offer barcode, magneticstrip, encoding, smart card, and more. Laminating printers offer an extra layerof protection from wear and tear.  Youalso enjoy additional security protection, because altering these cards is verydifficult.  Let's have a look at some ofthe most popular ID card printer manufacturers.

Fargo Printers
Fargo has been meeting the needs of business for a very longtime.  They always offer cutting edgetechnology.  Yet they continue to providean affordable product, with one of the best reputations for reliability.  Fargo offers single sided printers, dual sidedprinters, and laminating printers.  Youcan configure your Fargo printer to work with your photo ID software.  Choose from the many models on the market.

Evolis Printers
Evolis printers offer a full range of technologies includingencoding.  Choose either single sided ordual sided printers.  The Evolis printershave a modern design that's sleek, and requires very little space. Evolisprinters have a reputation for being very intuitive.  It won't take you months to learn all the insand outs of these printers.  Evolis isconsidered one of the most competitively priced printers on the market.  Add easy maintenance, parts that are readilyavailable, and excellent warranties, and you can see why Evolis should be onyour short list.

Zebra Printers
If you're looking for plenty of product choice, and printersthat you can afford, Zebra printers have you covered.  Besides offering some of the best printquality on the market, they also offer very competitive pricing.  Zebra is continuously striving to improve itsalready superior product line.  Choosefrom a complete line of single sided printers, dual sided printers, andlaminating printers.

Magicard Printers
Magicard Printers have earned a reputation for offering somethinga little different.  What makes Magicardunique is its very low price point.  Thismakes it an attractive printer choice for a business just entering the market.  It's just as attractive for those that havebeen in the market for some time.  That'sbecause they offer a full range of products from the most basic, quality, entrylevel printer to the top of line printer with all the bells and whistles.  Print membership cards, photo ID badges, or ahost of other ID cards.

Nisca Printers
Nisca offers a unique line of printers.  They offer a superior line of dye sublimationprinters.  This technology allows Niscaprinters to provide brilliant 24 bit images. There are also a wide range of models, all of which offer top notchperformance and security.  Nisca offers apremier name in PVC card printing technology. Analyze your company's needs and choose a printer accordingly.

Datacard Printers
Datacard printers have a reputation for providing thehighest quality photo ID badges, membership cards, and other types of IDcards.  You simply personalize yourprinter to your company needs.  Choosefrom a range of security features and performance levels.  From the most basic printers to the mostsophisticated printers Datacard has a printer for every budget.

The ID printer is a big part of your ID printingprocess.  There are many excellentprinters on the market. If you aren't sure, which one is right for you, take alittle time to do some research, and learn what the various printers arecapable of performing.

When deciding on which printer is right for your companyneeds, ask yourself a few questions.

1. What type of cards do I want to print?
2. Do I need to print single sided or double sided ID cards?
3. Do I need barcode technology?
4. Do I need laminating technology?
5. Do I have any special needs in my ID card printing?
6. Do I need to print in color?
7. What is my budget?
8. What am I looking for in a warranty?
9. What does my ID card software recommend for a printer?
10. Which printers are comparable and which offer the bestprices?

Give your ID card printer the attention it deserves, andfind the printer that's right for your business.

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Saturday, March 21, 2020

How to Buy POS Receipt Printer?

There are many models of printers in the market to lookfor.  The most common are the dot matrixor also known as impact printers, thermal printers and multi-functionalprinters.  However, before you decide tobuy a printer for your POS system, you must consider the software requirements,hardware compatibility, device drivers, and option of receipt cutting featurein the printer, cable interfaces, environmental restrictions and addedbenefits.

Some of the printers will work only with specific devicedrivers and software applications.  Youwouldn't want to buy a printer that has limited use in your business.  Assuming that one of your receipt printerbreaks down at one of the many POS systems you have, your printer must have theability to fill in the place of the printer that broke down.  The printer must also be compatible with theOperating System that you are currently using. It is a wise choice to opt for a printer that is compatible withmultiple OS.

Even though most of the printers can work with Windowsdrivers, some printers will require OLE orOPOS drivers to print the receipts.  Askyou dealer about the compatibility issues that you might have with the printersand your POS.

You can replace your existing printer with a printer fromany brand.  Most of them are manufacturedin such a way to emulate most of the other brands.  However, asking your dealer about the optionsto replace the existing printer will be a good decision.

The receipt printer can connect to your POS system through acable interface, which can be serial, parallel, USB or Ethernetconnection.  All the printers willsupport at least the basic type of interface, i.e. the serial and parallelinterface. In some of the printers, the USB interface is an option.  If you think a particular printer fits yourrequirements perfectly, but doesn't have an interface that you are for, ask thedealer about adding an additional interface. They usually can do it but at an extra cost.
Another feature to look for in the printer is the option ofreceipt cutting.  There are two types ofreceipt cutting: partial and full.  Ifyou do not want a receipt cutter option in your printer, go for a manual receiptcutting option.  If you run a hugebusiness that has a streamline of customers at the checkouts, it is better tohave an auto-receipt cutter option since it will save time.  However, for places like a small grocerystore or any other business establishments that do not have a heavy inflow ofcustomers, you can opt for the manual receipt-cutting printer.

The printers come with the option of single color printing and 2-colorprinting.  Printers with the option oftwo-color printing come with black and red color for printing purposes.  Usually the logo of your company is printed inred and the remaining details of the transaction in black.  You can use the red color to highlight anyspecial deals, discounts and privileges received by the customer.
One thing you must bear in mind before purchasing theprinter is the environment it will be used in. Will you use the printer in the kitchen, POS, hospital, temperaturecontrolled settings etc.  There aredifferent printers that fit into the above categories.  If you end up buying a printer that doesn'tsuit the environment, your printer will not work properly.

Ask these questions before you buy a printer: Do you need aprinter with 2-color? Do you need auto receipt cutting option? Do you need aprinter that can handle the printing of receipts, labels and barcodes? What isthe speed of the printer you expect to have? Do you want your printer toaccommodate huge printing rolls?  Do youwant a drop-in paper loading mechanism? Do you want a printer that can print 2-ply and three-ply receipts?  Do you want to endorse checks and read MICRcodes using your printer?

As you read the above questions, more questions will popup.  Make sure that you address all thequestions with the dealer before making the purchase.

How many types of printers are there?
Basically there are 3 types of printers: Impact, Thermal andMultifunctional.

1. Impact Printers: Impact printers are also known by the name of Dot-Matrixprinters.  These printers are not onlyless expensive but also flexible.  Theyuse pins and ribbons to print on the paper. The printers can print two-ply receipts, one for the customer and theother for the vendor.  These printers areresistant to heat and make an ideal choice for use in the kitchen.  The printer can print two colors - black andred.  However, you must purchase therequired ribbons to print the above said colors.

Where can Impact printers be used?
Kitchens, POS checkouts, manufacturing units that have toomuch heat, places that require 2-ply receipts printed in 2 colors.

2. Thermal Printers: Thermal receipt printers as the namesuggests, use heat to print the image on the paper.  They do not use ribbons and pins to print theimages.  You require special receiptpaper to use with your Thermal printer. The paper has a special heat sensitive coating that is activated oncoming in contact with the printer head. The printer does not require you to replace ribbons and are cost less toown and maintain.  You can upload thelogo directly to the firmware to increase the speed of printing. These printersmust not be used at places like the kitchen or any other environment that isprone to heat.

3. Multifunctional printers: These printers are used to carry out multiple functionsapart from printing receipts. The multifunctional printers are used to endorsechecks, read MICR codes, and print slips. These printers are more expensive than the previously mentioned ones dueto their versatility.  These printers canbe used at checkouts to print receipts or in concurrence with POS set-ups.

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Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Printer Usage

Some printers are good for general printing, while othersare better at specialized tasks or combine several functions into one machine.

o Photo: If you take lots of pictures, consider getting aphoto printer.  Photo printers can be inthe form of photo inkjets -- which can print both photos and text; snapshotphoto printers -- for outputting small 4x6-inch prints; or professional photoprinters -- for large, tabloid-size photos and often including networkconnections to enable printer sharing. Most consumer and professional photo printers use inkjet technology,while most snapshot photo printers that print 4x6-inch prints rely ondye-sublimation technology.  Regardlessof the type or technology that is used, the most important thing to look for ina photo printer is photo realistic quality. Everything else is secondary.

o General Purpose: As the name implies, general purposeprinters can be used for printing almost anything, including text andphotos.  Choose a general printer with alaser format if you print more text than photos; and choose an inkjet format ifyou print more photos than text.

o Multi-function: Multi-function printers (MFPs) combine inone device several functions such as printing, scanning, faxing, and copying.MFPs cost less than buying separate stand-alone devices and cut down on thehassle of setting up individual machines. If you are strapped for budget or space, consider these all-in-onedevices.  Take note, however, that amalfunction with one component takes down the whole device, and individualcomponents may not be upgradeable.  MFPsare available with either laser printers to emphasize speedy text printing andthe occasional graphics output; or they are available with inkjet printers forvibrant photo printing.

Environment andApplications
When deciding on a printer, think about where and how youplan to use it.  The home user will havedifferent printing needs from that of the office worker, photographer, ortraveler.

o General/Basic home use: Versatile, affordable printers arethe best choices here, and inkjets usually satisfy the printing needs of mosthome users looking to output photos from their digital camera or for otherlight printing needs.  Ink cartridges canbe expensive, so look for inkjets with separate cartridges for each color.  This way, you need not throw out entirecartridges -- simply because one color has been used up ahead of the others --but replace only the ones that run out.

o Home office: An MFP may be a great device to have in yourhome office, especially if it comes with an automatic document feeder that canprocess multi page documents unattended. Extra onboard memory increases efficiency and allows for processing oflarger graphics and documents with ease. If scanning and photocopying are important to you, get an MFP with ahigher resolution.

o Photography: Photo printers are the obvious choice ifprinting photos is your main thing. Choose either the smaller, snapshot photo printer that produces 4x6-inchprints; or choose larger-sized, professional photo printers that are capable ofdelivering tabloid-size 11x17-inch prints -- even up to full-bleed 13x19-inchprints that include a border to allow room for registration marks.

o Text printing: If printing large amounts of text is whatyou'll be doing most, monochrome standard laser printers are your best bet --as they can turn out page after page of crisp text fairly rapidly.  These printers are ideal for printingblack-and-white text and simple graphics, so you may need to get a separate inkjetor photo printer in order to print color photos - unless you wish to invest inthe more expensive color lasers that can print both black-and-white and colordocuments.

o Small network: A workgroup laser printer can be what youneed if your home office or small office is built around a network.  Workgroup lasers pack faster print speeds andhave more memory to handle multiple print jobs. They also offer more advanced handling capabilities such as largertrays, and may offer duplex (double-sided) printing, sorting, andstapling.  More expensive than standardlaser printers, the majority of workgroup lasers are monochrome -- designed forprinting text and simple graphics.

o Traveler: For the businessperson on the go and looking toprint, portable printers provide the solution with their compact size (smallenough to fit into a briefcase), light weight (less than 5 lbs.), and handypower (operates on batteries or with a car charger).  Newer models can print wirelessly -- makingit a non-issue if you forget your USB cable at home.  Some portables offer great extras such as asheet feeder for automatic page feeding, are able to handle transparencies andenvelopes, and even support an optional scanner cartridge that replaces the inkcartridge and turns the printer into a scanner. Portable printers are moreexpensive and print more slowly than standard printers,but convenience is what you're paying for.

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Printer Buying Guide

Printers are essential peripherals, performing a criticalrole as they render electronic information into tangible records or materialoutput.  You're simply not using yourcomputer to its fullest potential if you are unable to print reports,presentations, letters, photos, or whatever it is you need to output. Choosinga printer can be confusing, in today's competitive, ever-changinglandscape.  This buying guide rounds outsome of the more important criteria to consider before you make thatall-important purchase decision.

Printing Technologies
This is the biggest decision to make before anythingelse.  Your choice should be based on howyou work and the kind of output you will be expecting from the printer.

Dye-sublimation: Dye-sub printers can print continuous tonesand a superior range of colors that laser printers are unable to, making themideal for more demanding graphic applications or color printing. Dye-sub printsare also less prone to fading and distortion over time than dye-based inkprints.  In addition, many consumer-baseddye-sublimation printers can print directly from digital cameras and alsoaccept memory cards.  They are, however,more limited in the range and size of printing media that can be used --usually letter-size paper or smaller.

 Laser: Laser printers are the perfect choice if youneed to print large amounts of text documents. They print faster than inkjetsand have a lower cost of operation over the long-term -- even though they maycost more to buy initially.  There aretrade-offs, however.  Monochrome laserprinters produce crisp black-and-white text but cannot be used for colorprinting.  Color lasers deliver excellenttext and graphics but are much more expensive and can be costly to maintain.

Paper Handling
Paper is obviously an important issue in printing. Here aresome important tips on paper handling for printers:

o When buying a printer, make sure that it's equipped toaccommodate all the paper sizes and types that you'll be using.  If you need to print on heavy stock, forinstance, make sure the printer can handle the heaviest paper you use.  For this purpose, a printer's paper path cangive an indication of how it handles paper: Inkjets generally use straight-throughpaper paths, while lasers use S-shaped or U-shaped paths.  Generally speaking, the straighter the path,the thicker the media that can be used. However, the curved paths typical oflaser printers also makes it possible to have more flexible configurations forinput and output trays.

o Using the correct type of paper will also make adifference to your printing. Inkjets can print on a variety of matte or glossyphoto paper, but make sure you choose the right kind of paper for your printerto obtain optimal print results.  Forexample, matte papers are suitable for both pigment and dye-based inks, whileluster finishes are generally more suitable for dye-based inks.

o In terms of size, most inkjets and lasers can handleprinting of letter and legal sizes.  Ifyou need to print larger prints, however, consider a printer that can handlesizes like 11 by 17 inches.  You may alsoconsider getting a printer with multiple paper drawers if you'll be switchingbetween different paper sizes on a regular basis.  For a laser printer, multiple output trays,duplexing (double-sided printing), collating, and automatic stapling can beadditional useful features.

o If you plan to use third-party paper, make sure it workswell with your printer.  Before you buy alarge quantity of third-party paper, try a few samples by printing the samephotos on both the printer manufacturer's paper and the third-party paper, andthen compare the results.

Printer Specs and KeyFeatures
Printers feature various specifications, so navigating thespec sheet intelligently requires familiarity with what each specificationentails according to the printing technology involved or for the type of usageplanned for the printer.

o Resolution: For laser printers, 300 dpi is adequate if allyou need is to print black-and-white text, but choose at least 1200 dpi forphoto realistic grayscale or color printing. For inkjets, choose one featuring 1200-dpi or higher resolution with adroplet size of 4 picoliters or smaller for sharp, clean output.  With photo printers, resolution variesaccording to technology: Output at 300 dpi by photo printers usingdye-sublimation technology is comparable to photo printers using inkjettechnology outputting at 1200 dpi or higher.

o Speed: Speed ratings vary greatly, and the print speedscited by manufacturers usually refer to printing in draft mode or at the lowestresolution.  For laser printers, a moreaccurate way of measuring actual print speed is to time just how long it takesfrom the minute you hit "Print" -- to the time that it takes theprinter to warm up, spool the job into the print queue, and for the printedoutput to finally come out.  For inkjets,print speed is not one of its stronger suits; so don't be overly concerned withthis spec.

o Memory: Extra memory will come in handy for laser printersto enable them to handle large graphics and documents more easily.  Check the maximum upgrade-able memory allowedfor your printer, if it features a hard drive with similarly upgrade-ablememory, and if the printer can use generic memory or needs the manufacturer'sbrand.  In the case of inkjets, memory isbuilt-in and not upgrade-able, but this is not an issue inasmuch as processingoccurs on the side of the computer -- so there's no need for large amounts ofinstalled RAM to begin with on inkjets.

o Connectivity: Most printers today no longer support theolder parallel connection but feature instead USB 1.1 or Hi-Speed USB (USB 2.0or 3.0) -- either of which should work fine with USB computers.  For printers to be used on a network, it willneed to have an Ethernet port to enable printer sharing.  For more flexible printing options, you maywant to look for printers with infrared input/output ports that allow wirelessprinting from notebooks or other devices with infrared ports.  And if high-speed or long-distance printingis what you need, consider printers with a FireWire port.

Consumables and costper page
The purchase price of the printer is just the beginning ofits overall cost because over time, the hidden cost of ink or toner, paper, andparts will add up.  These "hiddencosts" are the consumables; dividing the total cost of consumables by thenumber of pages that can be produced from the consumables gives you the costper page.  Laser printers offer thelowest cost per page, using relatively inexpensive toner and normal-weight,uncoated paper.  

On the other hand, costper page for inkjets can be four or five times as much, depending on how muchink you use and the cost of the paper -- normally more expensive, coated,glossy paper for higher-quality color output. The tank configuration for inkjets should also be taken intoconsideration.  Inkjets with a singlecartridge for the colored inks will incur higher replacement costs because thecartridge must be replaced as soon as one color runs out -- even if thecartridge still contains plenty of ink for the other colors.  To save costs, get an inkjet with separatecartridges for black and each individual color.

Print Quality
All the specs and fancy features in your printer won't meana thing if you don't have good, solid print quality -- whether of text orphotos -- to back it up.

o Text: Text should be smooth and crisp. At the smallestfont sizes, the individual letters should be clearly readable, and they shouldnot bleed into one another. Medium-size fonts should have no fuzzy edges, andthe largest fonts -- especially bold ones -- should be filled with solid black,not a muddy brown or bluish tone. You should also be able to see well-formedand well-rounded counters (the openings) in letterforms; if you don't, it'susually a sign of the printer laying down too much ink. (Remember, however,that inkjet printers will display some wicking on plain, 20-lb. paper, as theink bleeds along the paper fibers.)

o Graphics: For color printing, look for gradients -- orareas where a color goes from dark to light. Color should transition smoothly, and you should not see any colorbanding, where distinct bands progress from dark to light.  On a test page, you will likely see agradient bar that goes from black to white through a series of progressivelydarker gray shades; the transition from shade to shade should be smooth withouta noticeable line. Also, look for a nice balance of colors in color-graphicprinting -- something that's not overly saturated nor flat and washed out.

o Photo: A good photo print should like the original photo.Colors should be accurate and balanced, vivid but not oversaturated.  Good detail should be present in all areas,with no jagged lines or pixels or any other visual artifacts.  Good contrast should exist between shadow andhighlight areas -- not muddy or flat and without color.  You may not always be able to tell thedifference from one great print to another, but almost everyone can recognize abad print when they see one. Trust what you see.

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Sunday, February 2, 2020

Printers - A Practical Buyers Guide

Buying a printer can be a complicated business, there aremore shapes, sizes and types of printers available to the home and smallbusiness user than ever before. Printers have also become specialized for theirintended purpose.

It is no longer a case of "a printer is aprinter".  Printers are now designed to begood in a particular area rather than a "Jack-of-all trades", whichwill do everything.

An often overlooked issue, is the very serious considerationof cost of ownership, which is all about of how much it will cost to keep yourprinter running (see below).  So makingthat decision on which printer to go for, can be a seriously arduous task,especially if you are keen to buy a printer that is not only affordable to buy,but also cheap to run.

So here is the information that you need to know andconsider, that no one tells you about! We have not expanded on which printer is the best at any given time,because models constantly change and you can find that information in anycurrent glossary PC magazine off the shelf. Instead, here you will find the good, bad and ugly bits from thedifferent types of printers available so you can make an informed decisionyourself.

Laser Printers
Laser printers work in a similar way to photocopiers, exceptthey use a laser instead of a bright light to scan with.  They work by creating an electrostatic imageof the page onto a charged photo-receptor, which in turn attracts toner in theshape of an electrostatic charge.  Toneris the material used to make the image (as ink is in an inkjet printer) and isa very fine powder, so laser printers use toner cartridges instead of inkcartridges.

Laser Printers have traditionally been the best printingsolution for heavy office users as they produce a very high quality black textfinish and offer relatively low running costs. However, laser printers have advanced a great deal recently and theirprices have steadily dropped, as a result there are now compact laser printers,multi-function and color laser printers all at very affordable prices.  Laser printers make sense if you need to do alot of high quality black or color prints, not photos.  The great thing about a color laser printeris that they can print a very good quality color image on standard copierpaper, so you do not need to use expensive photo paper for large jobs.  Do check the prices of the consumables beforeyou buy the printer as these can be very expensive for color laser printers.
Laserprinters are the best solution for people who are printing in largevolumes, that is, in 100's of pages at a time or 1000's of pages permonth.  Color lasers also take quite awhile to warm up, so are not ideal for printing single pages.

Solid Ink Printers
Solid ink printers use solid wax ink sticks in a"phase-change" process, they work by liquefying wax ink sticks intoreservoirs and then squirting the ink onto a transfer drum from where it iscold-fused onto the paper in a single pass. Solid ink printers are marketed almost exclusively by Tektronix / Xeroxand are aimed at larger businesses and high volume color printing.

Solid ink printers used to be cheaper to purchase thansimilarly specified color lasers and fairly economical to run owing to a lowcomponent usage, today it is not necessarily any cheaper than a color laserprinter.  Output quality is good butgenerally not as good as the best color lasers for text and graphics or thebest inkjets for photographs.  Printspeeds are not as fast as most color lasers.

Dye-Sublimation printers use heat and solid color dyes toproduce lab-quality photographic images. Dye-Sub printers contain a roll oftransparent film made up of page-sized panels of color, with cyan, magenta,yellow, and black dye embedded in the film. Print head heating elementsvaporize the inks, which adhere to a specially coated paper, as the ink coolsit re-solidifies on the paper. Color intensity is controlled by precisevariations in temperature.

Dye-sublimation printers lay down color in continuous tonesone color at a time instead of dots of ink like an inkjet, because the color isabsorbed into the paper rather than sitting on the surface, the output is morephoto-realistic, more durable and less vulnerable to fading than other inktechnologies.
The downside of Dye-Sub printers is that they are generallymore expensive to buy and run, usually limited to photo sized prints only andcan only print onto one type of specialized paper as well as being quite slowto print.

Dye-Sublimation printers are best for those who want to linkup their digital camera to a purpose built printer and print out the finestquality photos at home without fuss.

Dot Matrix Printers
Dot matrix printers are relatively old fashioned technologytoday with poor quality print, slow and very noisy output.  This type of printer is no longer used unlessyou wish to create invoices using the continuous paper with holes on bothsides.  The good thing is that they arevery cheap to run!

Cost of Ownership
Many printers today are very cheap to buy, but people aresometimes shocked to discover the cost of replacing the consumables (ink orlaser cartridges, imaging drums, fuser, oils, specialized papers etc). The costof replacing the ink can sometimes cost more than the printer itself!  This is one of the most commonly overlookedfactors when printers are reviewed and yet one of the most important things toconsider before handing over your hard earned cash.  Tests run in 2003 by Which? magazine famouslycompared the cost of HP's ink with vintage 1985 Dom Perignon.

A Sheffield City Council report aimed at helping schoolsdecide on the best-value printers to buy, calculated total cost of ownershipover the lifetime of a printer (not sure how long that is!).  Adding up all the running costs, ink ortoner, paper, maintenance and even electricity, SCC worked out that a colorinkjet costs approx 38 cents per page to run compared to a color laser whichcosts approx 7 cents per page. Sheffield City Council advised its schools thatif they printed more than three color pages a day (assuming a 40-week academicyear) they should buy a laser.

These figures cannot be taken hard and fast due to the manyvariables involved, but it is generally accepted that the cost per print of alaser printer is cheaper than that of an inkjet, which is in turn cheaper thanthat of a sub-dye printer.  However, youwould have to do a fair amount of color printing to take advantage of theeconomy cost offered by a laser printer.

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Printer Security is Not Worth Worrying About - Right?

When looking at enterprise security, we commonly refer toand consider firewalls, Intrusion Prevention Systems (IPS), Virtual PrivateNetworks (VPN), encryption and authentication. When we think of securing our data, we think of securing criticalservers and databases.  Rarely do wethink of printers. Billions of dollars are spent worldwide on security eachyear, but how much did your organization spend on securing their printers thislast 12 months?  If you answered zero,you would be in the vast majority.

Printers have come a long way since their widespreadadoption in the late 1970's and early 1980's. Back in the day, each printer was connected to an individual system andcould only process a single print job at a time.  Today, printers have matured intomulti-functional devices that bare little resemblance to their distantorigins.  Printers in the 21st centuryperform dozens of tasks including, but not limited to, printing, scanning,photocopying, faxing and even emailing documents.  What most users, and even system, network andsecurity administrators do not realize is what really goes on inside a printerand what functionality they truly have. Most users still think of the printers of 30 years ago; unintelligentdevices that only possess the ability to print documents.  This view is far removed from the truth.

When discussing printers in this article, we are not onlytalking about the behemoths you see in most large enterprises, but also yourlow-end multi-functional printers you now find common in regularhouseholds.  Rare is it to find aprinter, no matter how small, that only performs the single task ofprinting.  Most, at a very minimum,provide faxing or scanning and with these come increased memoryrequirements.  Scanning a full documentin preparation to print, scanning a document to be saved as a PDF or similarfile, or scanning a document to allow faxing all require the ability to bufferthe data within the device.  A buffer isbasically a region of memory that allows the storing of temporary data.  Printers use this buffer to store a digitalversion of the document you are printing, scanning or faxing.  Depending on the device, this buffer canrange from a small piece of Random Access Memory (RAM) to a Hard Disk Drivelike the type found in your desktop or laptop computer.  In larger enterprise printers, this buffer isnot the only memory store found within the printer.  A larger, non-volatile memory area isprovided to store semi-permanent or permanent information.  For example, some printers allow scanning ofa document and saving it within the printer as a PDF.  The user may then connect to the printer asif it were a network drive, or via a web page, and download their document.

So where are we going with all this? The leakage or theft ofsensitive and confidential corporate information.  Large enterprises may have developed andimplemented data retention and destruction policies but rarely do these include,or even mention, printers.  Companieslook at hard copies of documents, CD's, DVD's and workstation, laptop andserver hard drives when developing their data destruction policies.  While it is clear they identify hard drivesas a source of sensitive information, rarely do they consider the hard drivescontained within their printers, if they even know of their existence. Printersare also commonly overlooked when security policies, procedures and guidelinesare developed and implemented.  Littletime, if any, is spent looking at printer security or the implications of notsecuring the corporate printers.  

All themore disturbing this becomes when you contemplate the common types of documentsthat pass through printers in a corporate environment.  Depending on the industry or the departmentwithin the organization, documents can vary from sensitive financial records,personal customer data or detailed network diagrams, to name a few.

To understand how sensitive data is leaked via a simpleprinter to the outside world, it requires an understanding of the corporateenvironment, security controls within that environment, and the general flow ofinformation between users, printers and file systems that house restricteddata.
In the ideal, secure corporate environment, a user hasrestricted access to files that pertain to his or her job function.  The files reside on a secure server withinthe corporate network and are protected by strong access control policiesrequiring a user to authenticate before being allowed access to files. In ourexample, a user requires a sensitive financial document for a meeting he isabout to attend.  The user authenticatesto the server, access to the file is authorized by the access control policiesset on the file and the user opens the file in Microsoft Word.  

He clicks on the print icon and sends thedocument as a print job to his nearest printer. With this simple act, we have taken a secure document that very limitedusers have access to, and have created two copies that are no longer protectedby any form of access control.  The firstis the obvious; the paper copy our user requires for their meeting.  The second is a copy housed in the buffer onthe printer.  In the ideal world, ouruser will keep the printed copy safe at all times and follow the organization'sdata destruction policy and destroy the copy of the document when they nolonger require it.  As for the virtualcopy created on the printer, the user has no real control over this, norprobably knows it even exists.  If we arelucky, the document is overwritten when the next print job comes through, butthis is very dependent on the brand and model of printer and how the printerwas initially set up by the administrator.

Slightly different to the straight printing of documents,scanning of documents or receiving faxes on a multi-functional printer writesdocuments to non-volatile areas of memory, usually a hard disk drive.  If documents are not manually removed, theywill remain there indefinitely, often long forgotten by the original user thatscanned the document or received the fax.

In either of these scenarios, improper disposal of adecommissioned printer could have catastrophic consequences for a company.  Leased printers may be returned to theleasing company for resale. Purchased printers are discarded in the trash orsold at auction or online via auction sites such as eBay. Either way, countlesssensitive documents could pass into the hands of nefarious individuals.  While the leaking of some documents could financiallyaffect organizations, leaking personal information pertaining to hundreds orthousands of customers or clients could have reputation ramifications thatcould destroy a company.

Most organizations do not realize the full potential oftheir printers or the functionality they have available.  While much functionality is non-securityrelated, these functions have considerable impact on the security of the datawithin an organization and need to be understood and addressed.  These include, but are not limited to:

1. The ability to copy files to Windows or Unix SMB fileservers

2. The ability to email scanned files to a user

3. Functionality that allows printers to receive faxes andthen forward the fax onto predefined users via multiple methods, such as emailor as another fax, and

4. The ability to store files which have been scanned,printed, emailed or uploaded locally on the printer.

While the previous data leakage scenarios have beenaccidental in nature, data remaining on printers could be the target of aneducated attacker, one that understands the value of data residing on printersand who has the ability to compromise that data.  While organizations invest hundreds ofthousands of dollars to secure their network, dividing networks and systemsinto zones of trust with firewalls, Intrusion Prevention Systems and othernetwork access control points, have they rarely considered where printers arelogically placed within the network.  Inmost cases, they are located among the users, or in some organizations, even onthe server networks.  Some organizationsdo not even have zones of trust and the printers exist among users, servers andeven Internet accessible systems.  In theworst case scenarios, the printers may even be Internet accessible themselves.  Printers are not seen as critical devices,and as such, are not secured in their own zone of trust where access tomanagement interfaces is not accessible except to trusted printeradministrators.  

By limiting access tothese interfaces, compromise of the data housed on these printers becomes exceedinglydifficult.

While most printers have the capability to authenticate bothprinter administrators or normal printer users, the majority of the time, thisfunctionality is disabled or left in its default state; disabled.  Five minutes on Google and an attacker willbe able to find the default password to almost any printer.  Once administrator access is gained to aprinter, it takes little time and even less ability to make changes to settingsthat could be catastrophic to an organization. While it would be little but annoying to find yourself locked out ofyour printer, or the interface changed to another language, so no-one couldcontrol the printer, if the attacker was to redirect your printing or copydocuments to a location outside the internal network, depending on the contentsof the file, it could ruin an organization.

So how does an organization protect itself against attacksagainst printers and leakage of sensitive data?

A few simple steps:

1. Disable unnecessary functionality.  If any function within the printer is notrequired within your business, disable it. The less services or functions a printer has running, the less avenuesof attack or leakage the printer has.

2. Add printers to your data retention and disposalpolicies.  Make sure all memory insideprinters is disposed of via secure destruction or secure wiping when printersare decommissioned.

3. Ensure data is overwritten immediately afterprinting.  This requires the printer inuse to support this functionality, but if your data is highly sensitive, thisshould be a priority when looking at new printers.

4. Print from memory rather than hard disk drive ifavailable.

5. Use the secure printing option, if available, soprintouts do not start before you reach the printer and enter yourpassword.  How often have you hit print,walked to the printer and your printout is no-where to be seen, only to turn uplying on a table days or even weeks later?

6. Examine where printers are logically located within thenetwork.  Printer management interfacesshould be restricted and only accessible from defined management IP's.  Ensure printers are never accessible from theInternet.  Assess whether some or allprinters should be located within their own zone of trust.

7. Use the inbuilt security within the printer to restrictwho has access, what access they have and where they may access from.

Securing printers should be an integral part of securingyour data.  Security policies shouldexist that address the risks and define how printers should be secured.  Develop printer security guidelines andprocedures for implementation of new printers and follow these standards toensure all printers are secured and do not become a high risk to yourorganization.  By securing your printers,you are contributing to your overall layered security model and protecting yourorganization's critical data along with its reputation.

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