Monday, October 10, 2011

Brady Bunch: The Wireless Network and Printers

Start humming your best Brady Bunch theme.  This entry is a sing-along with new lyrics...

Here's a story /
Of a wireless printer / 
Which was purchased /
With guidance from Best Buy /
It worked well on /
The home network /
And we thought all was well.

Here's a story /
Of a great employee /
Who started to print /
To their new toy.
But when using /
Her work laptop /
Nothing would print at all.

So the one day when the laptop met this printer /
And we knew that this was much more than a hunch /
The VPN would not work with the printer /
And they spent all night on call with The Help Desk Bunch.

The Help Desk Bunch /
The Help Desk Bunch /
Read along to avoid the Help Desk Bunch.

So classic TV theme songs aside....what's the point here?  If you have a wireless printer at your home, you generally will not be able to print items to it from a work laptop that is using your home wireless network to connect to a corporate network.

For security reasons, anytime you make a VPN connection (that's a virtual private network), your laptop is isolated from everything else on your home wireless network, including any wireless printers.  Therefore you cannot print to wireless printers while on that VPN.  Think of this...if your laptop was not isolated, anyone else on your home network (including an unwelcome lurker stealing your wireless signal from the driveway) could connect to your laptop and would assume your access to your corporate network.  For your security, the VPN restricts you from communication with any other wireless device while you are connected over VPN, including a printer.

If you need to print, you often can print using a cable (often the USB cable) which physically connects your laptop to your home printer.  This will somewhat depend on any restrictions which your company has placed on your laptop.  Generally speaking, however, the direct cable is not impacted by VPN and the printing should work.