Monitoring Your Printer Activities Can Save You Money.

It is not a secret that printer manufacturers make money on cartridges and not on printers. You buy a new reasonably priced inkjet or laser printer with a "starter set" of cartridges that only allows you to print a few dozen pages before getting depleted. At this very moment you join the army of ink addicts that pay from $20 to $500 for a small box of inexpensive chemicals.

When they sell you a new cartridge, they promise that you'll be able to print about a thousand "standard pages" with it. Unfortunately, "standard pages" only exist in a "standard World". Your presentation, a flyer or a typical Web page have never been considered as "standard".

Today, this is regulated by ISO/IEC 19752, 19798 and 24711. They measure a cartridge's yield using a page containing two paragraphs of text and a small logo. Some of your short e-mails will make a perfect "standard page". A typical Web page will use 5-10 times more toner or ink and a photograph will cost you 20 times more of your consumables. Note, that the tests are made using "standard printer settings". Now you have an idea why 300 dpi can be a default setting for your 1200 dpi printer.

Let's see what you print most in your office. You don't know for sure? The employees simply send jobs to the printer over your local network and Windows does not provide a way to audit this? In order to start saving we need something to monitor your printers. We need a program that would do the following:

There are several printer monitoring tools available on the market. Yet, our "save as images" requirement is narrowing the search to only one of them. It appears to be the only tool for now that allows you to automatically archive your printer jobs as images. Despite the obvious lack of competition, it is reasonably priced. Prices start at $50. Exactly the cost of one cartridge for our laser printer. A good deal since you'll be saving lots of them soon...

The program is called O&K Print Watch. You can find some screenshots and download a free 30-day trial here: Download Printer management and monitor software.

According to its documentation, the program can control up to 1000 printers simultaneously. It stores extensive information about each printed document. You can easily find out which user from which computer has printed each document. This allows you to generate informative statistical reports. For example, you can see a diagram of estimated printing costs for each computer user in your organization for a certain period of time.

O&K Print Watch includes a built-in Web server. You can connect to it from anywhere with your Web browser to check out the logs and statistical data. There is a demo of this Web interface on their site:

The program is packed with lots of advanced features. For example, with O&K Print Watch you can define printing quotas for your users that depend on a number of different parameters. You can also use the program as an advanced printer queue manager. Start/stop/kill printer jobs, change priorities etc.

If you are serious about starting to save on cartridges and paper, download their free trial and see for yourself if it works for you.

A few tips on establishing your ink-saving policies: