Knowledgebase: PaperCut
Print Quotas
Last modified on 15 August 2020 07:43 PM

Implementing a simple print quota system is the key to reducing the cost associated with printing in a network environment. The concept of “quotas” in the computing environment has been around for a long time. In the initial days of computing where processor power was a big limitation, high-end mainframe and Unix systems implemented a processor-time allocation on a per-user basis (CPU quotas). This allowed all users to access a “fair share” of processing time. For example a user might have had one hour a day of processor time to run their programs and calculations.

As processors became more powerful (we all have a 1980’s super computer sitting on our desk today!), disk storage was the next stretched resource. Operating systems implemented disk quotas to restrict users’ disk usage to “expected” limits. The Unix operating system has supported disk quotas since the 1960’s. Microsoft server operating systems introduced this functionality in Windows 2000 and 2003.

Printing and the infrastructure to support printing (printer hardware, toner, paper, and the poor tech who un-jams the printer) should also be thought of as limited network resources. Implementing print quotas and the associated print management software is an effective way to reduce costs and promote responsible use.

PaperCut Software’s application PaperCut NG is the ideal solution for introducing print quotas. PaperCut NG uses a monetary-based (or unit-based) approach allowing administrators to charge different amounts for different types of printers and print jobs. For example the system administrator may define a low cost on the high volume black and white printer and a large cost on a color printer. This ensures users ‘think’ before they press the print button! The monetary-based approach ensures users are restricted to sensible use but still leaves the flexibility in the end-users’ hands (i.e. do I really need color for this document?).

In summary, implementing print quotas will:

  • Restrict users to sensible usage.
  • Encourage responsible use.
  • Encourage the correct selection of printers (only printing color when color is really required).
  • Smooth out printer load by encouraging the use of printers designed for specific tasks.
  • Benefit the environment by saving the resources involved in paper, toner / ink and printer construction and usage.

In a large school, college, university or education based organization, you might like to consider running a stricter quota based system by requiring users to pay for their printing upfront or in arrears. This is referred to as a user-pays pre-paid or bill-back system, or a print charging system. Again PaperCut NG can help implement such as system with features such as its web-based administration and Pre-Paid/TopUp Cards.