How to Set Up Your Printer Cables

Setting up printer cables is a simple process if you do it right the first time. If you don't determine what connector type you need and measure the cable run before you set up your printer, you might find yourself in for a headache.

Determine what Printer Cables You Need
Some printers are designed to connect to your network via an Ethernet cable. Other printers are designed to connect directly to your computer via USB. Determine which type of printer you have, and which cables you need. Printers do not come with cables to connect with a computer; they only come with a power cable in the box. You'll need to buy separate cables for printers to connect to your computer or network.

How Long Should Cables Be?
Printer placement is a big deal when you're shopping for cables. Before you buy cables, determine where you want to place your printer. Verify that you have enough desk space or tabletop space for your printer; printer footprints can be larger than you expect.

When you plan your cable run, make sure to leave plenty of space to maneuver the cable around furniture and obstacles. Don't just measure the direct distance between your printer and your computer or router; make sure to measure around furniture or down to a cable channel and up again if you're using cable management systems. If you trust your measurements, give yourself an extra two feet; if you're not sure about your measurements, allow an extra five feet for leeway. Remember that longer cables for printers cost more, so it's best to have a short distance between the printer and the plug-in port.

Getting the Right Computer Printer Cables
Once you've measured the length and know what type of cables you need, you can go shopping. Don't be fooled by marketing speak; those gold-plated, "high speed" premium cables don't make much of a difference unless you're constantly printing large files. You're limited by your printer's speed, anyway, so the bottleneck is rarely caused by the cable. Get a cable of sufficient length and with the right connector type. Ignore the marketing hype and save yourself some cash.

Run the Printer Cables
Once you've done all the preliminary work, running the computer printer cables is a piece of cake. Consult your printer's user manual to determine whether you need to install any software before connecting your computer, and then connect the printer at the appropriate point. Run the printer cables behind furniture. If you use a cable management system, follow the channels or re-tie your cables to include the printer cable.

If you're using a high-powered office printer, you may want to give your printer a dedicated power outlet. Some printers have high power requirements, and it's a good idea not to plug those into a power strip already overloaded with electronics. If your printer draws a lot of power, run it to a separate electrical outlet to ensure optimal performance and to avoid blowing a fuse or damaging your other electronics.

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