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Cloud printing may allow you to print to your printer at home while traveling. But is that really going to be trustworthy?

I will be in the States for three months, taking my laptop with me. I have a wireless printer at home. If I leave the printer turned on, can I possibly print documents from down south so that I have them when I get them back? Possibly a stupid question but I thought I'd ask any way.

In this excerpt from Answercast #95 I look at the idea of leaving a printer on at home and printing documents while on a trip.

Print to my printer at home

Definitely not a stupid question and in fact there is technology that is referred to as "cloud printing" that I believe actually covers this scenario.

Now I say, "I believe" because to be honest, it's not something I've ever played with. And to be even more honest, you know what? I wouldn't rely on the printer at home staying on, or staying connected, or even building up a system that required that printer work when you're not there to fix something that could go wrong.

Print to PDF

What I would recommend you do instead is to install a "print to PDF" printer driver on your machine. I use Cute PDF myself; there are others.

What that would allow you to do is, while you're on the road, print what you need to PDF files. Save those PDF files. You can even mail them to yourself or upload them to a place where you can get at them again later when you're at home. Or, of course, keep them on a safe place on your PC.

Print when you get home

The key there being - when you get home, and you're there to babysit the printer, you can then safely and reliably print all of the things that you created PDFs of while you were on your trip.

My sense is that's going to be a more reliable, more successful solution to what it is you're trying to do.

If someone can watch the printer

The only scenario that this doesn't cover is if, in fact, you have someone back at home who can fix the printer when the paper jams - and in fact needs that printout of whatever you're printing out at that time before you get home.

In that situation, again, I probably am more tempted to print to PDF and email the PDFs to that person who needed them and let them handle printing to actual paper.

(Transcript lightly edited for readability.)

Article C6320 - February 21, 2013 « »

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Leo Leo A. Notenboom has been playing with computers since he was required to take a programming class in 1976. An 18 year career as a programmer at Microsoft soon followed. After "retiring" in 2001, Leo started Ask Leo! in 2003 as a place for answers to common computer and technical questions. More about Leo.

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3 Comments
Alex Dow
February 26, 2013 11:52 AM

Whilst agreeing with Leo that his approach is the safer, there is at least one other way of remotely printing.

I have a well-known make of printer, Wi Fi connected via router etc.

That printer has its own e-mail address with the maker.

I can e-mail both printing files such as PDFs,and "raw" files such as WORD DOC Files, EXCEL XLS files etc to that allocated e-mail address.

As normal, they are sent as attachments; and there are some simple restrictions.

These will print almost immediately if the printer is "up and running"; or the e-mail will be held until such time as the printer is found to be available.

It has worked successfully on tests; but I have not used it "for real".

snert
February 26, 2013 12:28 PM

Isn't there an option - Print to file - that lets you save your documents in a specified folder for later printing?

Alex Dow
February 26, 2013 11:28 PM

Yes, Snert, that can also be done, along with retaining the documents in original file format etc.

But assuming the questioner has a good reason for asking the question, such as allowing someone else at home to peruse/proof-read the documents in the mean time before his return home, there is another way in which he could achieve that goal and more, by setting up a remote control system on another PC at home, accessed from his portable PC/Laptop/Netbook.

That way, he could log on to the home PC from, say, his hotel WiFi, copy the files over from the laptop, to the home PC, followed by printing them from the home PC using that Remote Control.

Programs such as TeamViewer allow this, including the added security of a VPN (Virtual Private Network) to work over; and also that he would then have effective Backup by having the source documents on both his laptop and on the home PC.

And there are several other uses that such remote control programs can achieve.

For example, if I want to have a larger screen attached to my Netbook temporarily, I access the 10 inch Netbook remotely from my 20 inch Tower PC.

Thus I do not have to find cables, another larger monitor etc.

Another is to connect my Laptop by HDMI cable to the much larger Television, then control the Laptop remotely and comfortably from my Netbook sitting in my armchair, allowing the whole family at home to have a good view of SKYPE contacts, the Laptop being positioned so that its built-in camera is picking us up.

So following that route, the questioner could have much more than Renote Printing available.

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