Virtual private networks, more commonly referred to as VPNs, allow computer users to connect remotely to a remote network and access its resources as if they were local. However, since the VPN reconfigures the computer’s network connection, printing via a virtual private network or to a local printer while connected to a VPN can create a number of difficulties.
Special VPN software creates a dedicated connection known as a tunnel to a point of presence, or POP, in the remote network when a user connects to a virtual private network. Alliance Datacom networking experts claim that the POP device on the remote network functions as a virtual presence, enabling the user’s computer to reroute data that would typically travel across the user’s local network to do so instead.
Users may have some trouble printing to devices on the local network because VPN software intercepts local network traffic and reroutes it to the remote network. According to the University of California at Berkeley, printers on a local area network may become unavailable while linked to a VPN, despite the fact that printers physically connected to a local computer should continue to function perfectly. Users may need to turn on the VPN software’s “Enable Local LAN Access” setting in order to print locally.
While connected to a VPN, certain users who can print to local printers could have trouble printing to devices on the remote network. Users must first make sure that the VPN software’s “Enable Local LAN Access” feature is turned off before they can print from a distance. According to the technology firm InterWorks, users cannot use remote printers unless the appropriate printer drivers are installed on their local computer. Users who are still unable to print to remote printers even after installing the correct drivers may need to speak with a server administrator to confirm that the appropriate printer drivers are also installed on the servers in the remote network. To enable remote printing, administrators might also need to change the server’s configuration.
Some virtual private network applications do not provide the option to toggle the use of local network resources, even though VPN software packages typically allow users to do so. Users frequently need to be aware of specifics regarding the remote printer in order to set it up for use, and a VPN administrator may need to provide configuration information or a particular printer driver. The way printers are configured on Mac, Windows, and Linux computers may also vary slightly. Once set up, printing over a VPN ought to function similarly to printing to a nearby or directly connected device, according to printer documentation from Boston University.