Establish control over your print jobs

Do you need to keep track of the amount of printing done weekly in your office for accounting purposes? Have you recently installed new high-cost-per-copy color laser printers and want to limit their use? Print Manager Plus 2.01, a software package that monitors printer activity, can help.

Typically, you can control printer resources only by restricting users from printing to a particular printer. With Print Manager Plus, you can manage your printer resources by establishing a series of page quotas on printers that your Windows NT server controls.

Installation and Use
To install Print Manager Plus, you simply run the setup program off the CD-ROM and answer a few questions. (If you have the autorun feature turned on, the program will install automatically.) You will need to reboot your server afterward, so make sure you schedule some downtime if necessary. The software's administration program provides an easy-to-use interface. You can quickly access the program's features with a menu bar, toolbar, or dialog box.

Tracking Printing and Setting Quotas
Print Manager Plus' Quota Manager lets you track user printing activity. Screen 1 provides a view of the Quota Manager dialog box, which displays usernames, the number of pages printed, the number of pages remaining in the quota, scheduled updates, a list of tracked printers, and account restrictions. Your NT server's database provides the user list, so you don't have to add users manually.

For each user, you can set a quota for any printer the NT server controls (e.g., you might set a daily quota of 10 pages on every printer for one user and a daily quota of 5 pages on the color laser printer for another). You might not restrict other users at all (e.g., data processors who usually run large jobs for other employees and print them to high-speed printers within the department). You can also set quotas for groups of users based on NT's defined user groups.

You can set other types of quotas as well. The File Title feature lets you deny the printing of files with certain titles; the File Size feature lets you deny the printing of files larger than a designated size (which is particularly helpful on slow printers).

The Queue Manager dialog box lists all printers that your NT server manages. When you click one of the listed printers, you see a list of jobs pending for that printer. Although this interface is very similar to NT's standard print properties page, Queue Manager also provides you with a common access point for your printers.

Problems
I encountered two problems with Print Manager Plus. First, when I installed the software, my CD-ROM drive refused to read the gold disk (which is common with recordable CD-ROMs). However, when I placed the CD-ROM on another machine and mounted it remotely, I had no problem. I don't anticipate that a person buying this product commercially will experience this problem. Second, I couldn't resize the administration window. By default, I keep my NT server screen resolution at 640 * 480, and the software wouldn't let me resize the window to fit within my screen. However, when I increased my screen resolution to 800 * 600, the product worked fine.

Businesses with runaway printing costs could certainly benefit from Print Manager Plus. Overall, the software is a bargain, especially for environments in which an NT server acts as a print server for a series of network printers.

Print Manager Plus 2.01
Contact: Software Shelf International 650-369-5200 or 800-962-2290
Email: sales@softwareshelf.com
Web: http://www.softwareshelf.com
Price: $495 per server license (includes CD-ROM and manual)
System Requirements: Windows NT 4.0 Server, 32MB of RAM, 8MB of hard disk space