What is PaperCut and how does it work?
That is a complex question for an FAQ! Here is the abridged summary: PaperCut works by intercepting print jobs as they pass into a print queue. It watches the queues and extracts job information such as page counts and uses this to implement logging, charging, control, quotas or reporting or a combination of all. Typically PaperCut is installed on a server. The administrator installs the printers on the server then shares them over the network (i.e. a shared print queue). The other systems on the network (workstations) print to these shared queues. PaperCut however can also monitor locally attached desktop printers or even work on standalone or peer-to-peer networks.
What is a print server and do I need one?
A print server is a system that hosts and shared print queues. A print server is not necessarily a dedicated server. On most networks an existing server such as a file server or domain controller will satisfy this role. A desktop system may also act as a print server on small networks. PaperCut will work on Windows, Mac or Linux servers.
Do I need to restart during/after install?
No. We have done our best to ensure that PaperCut follows best practices. All PaperCut editions on all platforms do NOT require a reboot during install. The same also applies when applying future upgrades.
I'd like to evaluate PaperCut but am concerned about installing it on a production server?
First of all, it is great to see that you are a smart administrator! We are a technically focused company and love working with people who have a passion about technology and more importantly a passion to ensure that "it works"! PaperCut is a well tested application deployed cross tens-of-thousands of organizations. It should never "crash" your system, but it is possible to configure it incorrectly and have it accidentally deny user printing unexpectedly. Hence it is worth taking some time to consider this on larger networks. Here are some risk mitigation options: Standalone testing: PaperCut will function on standalone system. Installing PaperCut on a desktop system such as XP Pro, Vista, or Mac OS X Workstation is a good way to get a general "feel" for PaperCut. Just set up a few local printers for testing and experiment with the PaperCut features. Smaller Networks (less than 5000 users):
- Deploy on your server with care, but do so armed with the knowledge of how you can disable PaperCut if you hit any unforeseen problems. PaperCut can quickly be disabled by manually stopping system services (or uninstalling).
- Conduct your installation during a period of low activity.
- The implementation guide found on the download page discusses some project management aspects associated with deployment.
- If you have a test server or test environment, consider deploying PaperCut on here first.
- Consider using server virtualization products such as VMware or Virtual Server and running PaperCut in a VM for initial testing/review before deploying on bare metal or in production.
- Do not hesitate to contact our support team if you wish to discuss any specific questions.
Is the Mac/Linux version a "poor cousin" port of the Windows version?
The current versions of PaperCut were written from scratch to be cross-platform and support all major operating systems. Back in 2005 we started afresh, putting aside the current Windows-only code base and started over again. This represented a huge investment, but the end result is that all platforms share a common code base and have an identical feature set. We follow a similar development philosophy to major cross-platform projects such as Firefox, and synchronize platform releases. This ensures that one platform is never left behind.
PaperCut screen-shots show a "$" currency symbol. My country uses a different symbol.
PaperCut fetches the currency format from the Operating System's "locale" settings. The region can also be manually overridden if required.
But I don't want to "charge" my users?
PaperCut is a flexible solution and can be deployed with a number of configurations ranging from "silent monitoring" through to a full user-pays environment. Most organizations do not use PaperCut to "charge" their users. In an education-based organization, PaperCut is more often used to restrict users to a sensible quota/budget - for example $5.00 a week. In business, PaperCut can be installed in a "silent logging" mode, enabling the tracking of statistics, or billing to accounts/departments.
Will PaperCut save me money?
PaperCut provides a comprehensive solution for monitoring and controlling printer usage. Our customers find that they save between 20% and 50% of their paper and toner budget after implementing PaperCut. These savings add up quickly. PaperCut usually pay for itself within just a few months. To see how much you can save, try our online Return on Investment (ROI) calculator.
My users log in using a generic user account? Do I need to set up user accounts?
To track printing at an individual user level, each user will require an account in PaperCut. Usually accounts are automatically sourced from your existing user directory such as LDAP, Active Directory, OpenDirectory or eDirectory. PaperCut also has support for internal user accounts. Internal accounts are ideal for guest users, or on small networks where an external user directory may not be appropriate. PaperCut is able to support generic logins but still log at the individual user level by using client software and popup authentication.
Can I install PaperCut on a single standalone system or on a peer-to-peer network?
Yes. The system hosting PaperCut however will need to be a compatible OS (see system requirements). In fact, if you have less than 5 users using the system, you can use PaperCut for free! In a domain environment, you'll set up user accounts in the domain. In a peer-to-peer network, you'll set up the user accounts on the local system hosting PaperCut.
Are there yearly support or maintenance fees? What are the ongoing costs?
We do not charge a mandatory annual fee. Licenses are indefinite - once you have licensed PaperCut you can run that version for ever. Free email support is included with every license and we also have a generous upgrade policy, where minor point releases are free (e.g. 10.0 to 10.2). About once every 12 to 18 months, we release a major version upgrade. Customers have a few options in terms of upgrades:
- Continue to run the current version (Yes. We still have customers running the 9 year old version 1 release, and we continue to support them!)
- Purchase an upgrade. The upgrade fees are always between 20% and 30% of the new license price.
- Subscribe to premium upgrade assurance.
Why do you license based on users and not per-server?
We are aware that some of our competitors offer per-server licenses. We however see a few problems with server licenses:
- It encourages overloading of servers.
- Forces organizations to restructure their network just to save costs.
- Discourages use of modern system designs such as clustering and server virtualization.
- Discourages best practice such as duplicate test environments or backup servers.
- It produces a pricing model that is not reflective of an organization's budget.
What hardware is recommended/supported?
For more information, see the product system requirements:
Are locally connected desktop printers (peer printers) supported?
Yes. PaperCut was specifically designed to allow organizations to have any number of systems hosting printers. Where possible we recommend network printers centralized on print servers as this simplifies management. All that is required to track local printing (e.g. a USB printer) is to install the light-weight print monitoring service on the workstation (about 350k). To do this run the installer and select the "Secondary print server" option when prompted. More information here. This is included as standard with the license. There is no extra cost.
Which printers are supported?
PaperCut works with the majority of printers including printers supporting:
- PCL (all versions)
- Epson languages ESC/P2, ESC/PAGE and ESC/PAGE-COLOR
- Ricoh RPCS
- Many proprietary GDI printers from the links of Lexmark, Brother, Panasonic, HP, Xerox, QMS, Samsung and others.
Will PaperCut slow printing?
Users will experience no noticeable slowing of normal print jobs. Very large jobs may experience a few seconds delay as the job spools to the print server.
Does PaperCut support different charging prices for color, duplex and different page size printing?
Yes. PaperCut supports a variety of charging techniques, including charging by specific page size (with different color and grayscale rates), page area charging, page size category charging, and discounts for duplex printing to encourage paper conservation. PaperCut also supports page-level color detection. With this feature, PaperCut "looks" into the document searching for use of color. This ensures that users are only charged the color rate for pages that use color.
I only want to monitor or charge a small number of users on my domain. Do I have to buy a license that supports all users?
The license is based on the number of user logon accounts registered with the system - usually the same number of login accounts on your domain. PaperCut periodically checks the number of users in its database and will prompt you if you exceed your license. If you only intend to monitor a small percentage of your users, you can import the users from a network group that contains a subset of your users. This is discussed in the knowledge base here.
Our legal department would like to make some changes to your End User License Agreement (EULA). Is that OK?
Unfortunately, within PaperCut's current price structure, we're unable to make any changes to our EULA. If you consider our pricing model and the costs of creating and managing individual agreements with each of our customers, you can begin to understand our position (lawyers are expensive!). Maintaining a standard EULA with all of our customers allows us to focus our resources on meeting our obligations under these agreements. Do keep in mind of course that our EULAs have been very carefully authored to be fair to both you and us. Still concerned? Get in touch and we can discuss.
What if my question isn't answered here?
Many common questions are answered in our knowledge base, and we recommend you look for an answer there. If you can't find the answer in the knowledge base, we're happy to answer your questions by email or to chat online. You can find our details on the contact page.