We have a Dell 1133 multi-function printer/scanner. For as long as we have this printer, we have always connected this to a dedicated notebook PC. While I know we can connect this printer to the NAS and have it connected as a network printer, I have never really tried to do so because I always believed that this will break the scanning component of the printer.
I have in the past tried to configure a USB scanner to work in a network environment and spent a lot of time configuring the SANE scanner backend support in linux. I would say that the result (even if it works) is never as satisfactorily as a direct connection in Windows. Ultimately this ended up as a waste of time for me. I would hesitate to try this again. Those who managed to get this to work well must be the kind of computer experts I could never be.
But recently the need for us to share the scanning component of the multi-function printer is greater than ever and this prompted me to have another try again. I am pleased to say that this time, success is sweet and the process is so much easier than I originally have anticipated and I credited this to the wonderful Buffalo NAS.
So this is a quick summary how you can do the same:
First off all, you will need to install the Network USB Navigator (if you have not already done so). Please note that this “USB Navigator” is not available as a separate download from Buffalo’s website. To get this, you will need to download the Link Navigator zip file. Inside this zip file, there is a “tool” directory. Navigate to this directoy and you will find a folder called “USB-Navigator”. Install the application. It is very straight forward. Just follow the prompts. And if you are still in trouble, have a read at this document – Network-USB User Manual. There is a step by step installation and configuration guide.
You will also need to make sure that your PC has all the required drivers/software to print to the printer or to acquire an image from the scanner. So it is best to first connect the printer to the PC, install all the software drivers, ensure that the multi-function printer is working fine on the PC before moving on. If you miss this step, even if USB Navigator found the remote printer on the network, you will not be able to print/scan to the device. Buffalo’s Network USB driver basically functions as a device to “bridge” a USB connection using the network. It will not help if you don’t already have the correct printer drivers.
Assuming this is done, now we can connect the multi-function printer/scanner to one of the USB port of the Buffalo Quad Pro. Switch the printer on. Then you will need to login to the webaccess interface of the NAS. Make sure that you enable the Network-USB server of the NAS. Then click “Save”.
Back to the PC, you will find that the Network-USB Navigator lives inside the taskbar. Click on it and it will show something like this:
Now select the printer and click the connect button at the bottom of the dialog box to establish connection. The dialog box will become like so:
It is now time to try to see if this works at all. Now try to print a complex document to the printer. If the printout is fine, then give yourself a pat on the back. Things are looking good.
Now try to grab a scan from the scanner. I use Faststone Image Viewer’s built-in scanner component for this test. I am astonished that this works at all. Here is a screenshot of the scan process.
I am very pleased that the process is so straightforward and robust this time. Again, kudos to Buffalo who has delivered such a useful device.
I hope this guide is useful to you.
Happy NAS’ing 🙂
Edit: It would appear that the Buffalo Quad Pro is capable of driving multiple USB devices via a USB hub. And it is possible to connect both a USB multi-function printer + a USB scanner to the NAS and network share these devices. Read about my setup here – Fujitsu ScanSnap S1500 – paperless workflow (part 5) – Network Scanning Made Possible with Buffalo Linkstation Quad Pro.
This is a follow up post to my post above:
Following my success with network sharing a USB MFP and a USB scanner via Buffalo’s Network-USB device driver, I came to the unpleasant fact that if the Network-USB server is enabled, both USB ports of the NAS will be locked out in such a way that if you plug in a USB drive to any of the port, the NAS will network share the USB drive just like any other USB devices. Here is a screenshot that explains this plainly. I should have paid more attention initially.
So if you connect a USB drive while Network-USB Server is enabled, Network-USB Navigator on the PC will show like so:
This is not what I wanted. I wanted the rear USB port to be connected to USB devices that I want to share over the network and I wanted the front USB port to be reserved for connection to external USB drives. It would appear that this is not possible. I wasn’t too impressed.
That aside, I also find that a USB drive network shared this way is not very stable and I experienced disconnection issues from time to time. It is just not robust to me enough.
So if you are able to hack this on a system level, please do share that with me. For now, I am going to live with this limitation as network sharing a USB MFP and USB Scanner is more important to us.