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Universal Print Drivers 

If you have a fleet of printers, you may have seen HP, Xerox and most manufacturers offer some sort of Universal Print Driver. Have you wondered why? Or when to use it?

We have been helping companies manage and maintain their printer fleets, and this is a question we hear pretty often. When should I use a PCL driver? What about Postscript? What about a Universal Driver?

We will cover why you might want to consider a Universal Print Driver, and when it might be better to stick with device-specific drivers for your company.

Universal Print Drivers – Why They Exist

When we are speaking of a Universal Print Driver, like the HP UPD or Xerox Universal Print Driver, what you want to realize was these were made to help IT manage the fleet with more ease. If a computer uses a UPD rather than specific drivers for each and every printer, there are less drivers to manage, because IT can use the HP UPD rather than find four, five or 20 different drivers (one for each make and model.)

What you need to realize is that EVERY printer model has its own driver. This means there are more than 2,000 printers and copiers, and each has at least one specific driver and probably five drivers at a minimum (a couple for PCs, one for Mac, another for Unix, etc.) So if you look at that, there are at least 10,000 drivers for printers for current products.

Now, if you go back to the past 10 years, that could balloon up to 50,000+ possible print drivers out there. Isn’t it far easier to just use one print driver than filtering 50,000? That is the problem trying to be solved by having a Universal Print Driver.

Universal Print Drivers – When They Don’t Make Sense

Sometimes, especially in the marketing kinds of applications, basic print isn’t good enough. The specific print drivers offer more color control (since they were made by the manufacturer who totally understands the engine and the limitations of the specific products.)

So, if you have a HP UPD and then you are printing on a Xerox Altalink C8130 copier, and you want to use features like PIN printing or color by words, (which is in the Xerox specific driver) you will no doubt lose such advanced functionality with the HP UPD.

How Do You Know What You’re Using?

When you are at the spot on the manufacturer’s website for a driver download, it will specifically tell you what kind of driver you are getting. If it says PCL or Postscript for that model, then no, that is not the UPD. A UPD will say it is universal as you are doing the download, and assuming you didn’t change its name when it installed, the computer will have the printer listed and supported by the UPD.

This is normally pretty simple to determine. Of course, you could always just delete and re-install the driver. If your IT department requires you to download the print driver off of their Windows server, then you should ask them what type of print driver it is. There is a universal print driver for most platforms. There is one for PCs, Macs, Citrix, Universal Printer, etc.

If you are unsure, you can always speak to your technical support representative. We can help you get the easy printer driver installed. You will just want to be sure whomever it is installed for only needs the basic print driver features.

We recommend a single driver when possible. Just be aware as you deploy a single driver, there will be users who tell you that the driver doesn’t work, because it lacks a special feature of the driver they used to use. We would guess that a UPD will work for 85% of your staff, but that 15% will need the specific print drivers to be effective in their jobs.