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How to Share your printer with DD-WRT

As you are reading this site then there is a good chance that the primary reason you bought a DD-WRT router was so that you could share your VPN connection with all family members or staff, and with all devices in your house or office. That’s great, and DD-WRT is excellent for it, but that fancy router of yours can do a lot else besides.

We have already looked at how you can share a USB drive over your network using DD-WRT, so that it can act as a NAS, so now we’ll look at another very popular use for a DD-WRT router - sharing a printer over the network. This is very easy to setup, and has the advantage over sharing your printer via a PC connection that no computer has to be turned on (only the router) or connected to the printer (this is particularly useful if everyone uses laptops or mobile devices, and you have no static desktop workstation).

If you'd like to learn more about DD-WRT, then we'd recommend reading our  Definitive DD-WRT Guide

Setting up a shared printer in DD-WRT

We used a flashed Asus RT-AC66U router, but any DD-WRT router with a USB port should work.

1. Plug your printer into the router, and turn it on.

2. Enter your router config page by typing the router IP address (usually http://192.168.1.1/) into your browser address bar. Click on the ‘Services’ tab, and then the ‘USB’ tab.

3. Enable ‘Core USB Support’ and 'USB Printer Support’ (if you also want to plug in a hard drive to use as NAS storage go right ahead and enable ‘Automatic Drive Mount’ too - see here for more detailed instructions). ‘Save’ and ‘Apply Settings’.

USB enable

The printer is now ready to use by any computer or devices on the network. To do this you need to follow standard procedure for adding a network printer for your OS. Below is how you do this in Windows 7.

To add a DD-WRT shared Printer in Windows 7

1. Go to Start -> Devices and Printers, and select ‘Add a printer’

DD-WRT printer 1

2. Select ‘Add a network, wireless or Bluetooth printer’.

printer 2

3. Click on ‘Add a printer using a TCP/IP address or hostname’

printer 4

4. Enter your router’s IP address into the ‘Hostname or IP address’ field. Deselect the ‘Query the printer and automatically select the driver to use’ checkbox.

printer 19

Because we have used this port before, Windows adds an extension to the Port name, which is fine

5. Wait for Windows to try to detect your printer. It will probably fail, so click ‘Next’.

printer 6

6. Select your printer make and model from the list.

printer 7

7. Give your printer a name.

printer 8

As our reader Micah has pointed out (see comments), it is better to select 'Do  not share this printer' here (then click 'Next').

printer 18

8. If you already have a driver for the printer installed then you are fine keeping it.

printer 20

9. ‘Print a test page’ to make sure everything is working properly, the click ‘Finish’ and you are done!

printer 21

Written by: Douglas Crawford

I am a freelance writer, technology enthusiast, and lover of life who enjoys spinning words and sharing knowledge for a living. You can now follow me on Twitter - @douglasjcrawf.

29 Comments

  1. Saijin_Naib
    on January 11, 2017
    Reply

    Douglas, This guide is amazing! Finally got printer server working on my WRT3200ACM with the 12/15/16 DD-WRT build. Thanks! Do you know if network printer sharing can also support scanning? It'd be great to be able to scan without having to move the USB cable over to my tower. I'm trying to share my MFC between my wife's computer and my own via my WRT3200ACM.

    1. Douglas Crawford replied to Saijin_Naib
      on January 11, 2017
      Reply

      Hi Saijin, Thanks! To be honest, I don't know (I don't have a scanner). But if you feel like experimenting yourself, I would love to hear the results!

    2. J Miller replied to Saijin_Naib
      on January 20, 2017
      Reply

      The most recent info I read to enable the scanner as well leads me to believe that Samba Server can make it happen. If not, I think the only other option would be installing SANE as well.

  2. Nicholas
    on November 19, 2016
    Reply

    Hi Douglas, I noticed that the printer is not available after I restart my laptop running Windows 7. So, I have to redo the process of adding the printer all over again every time I restart my laptop. Is it the same on your end? Thank u in advance

    1. Douglas Crawford replied to Nicholas
      on November 21, 2016
      Reply

      Hi Nicholas, No - once added, the printer should be available to select whenever you print something. Windows, however, does not always do what its supposed to...

  3. Gene Cooper
    on April 30, 2016
    Reply

    Doug: This was a great guide and it worked for me on three different, a TP-Link TL-WDr4300, and Asus WL520gu and a TP-link AC1900 Archer C9 (currently using the Archer C9). With the first flash I put on the C9 it worked perfectly, but then I tried a newer dd-wrt build (because dd-wrt is kind of in a developing stage for this relatively newer router) and much to my surprise printing didn't work with the newer builds! I wound going back to the original build, and everything's working now. It's very difficult to try and figure out why some builds work without any problem and others don't--wonder whether you know anything about this in plain English. I have a post in the Archer C9 thread in the dd-wrt forum (bottom of page 30, post by 'takeahike'): http://www.dd-wrt.com/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?t=282831&postdays=0&postorder=asc&start=435&sid=c04ab1e3c77214829d6aff00b5b64019

    1. Douglas Crawford replied to Gene Cooper
      on May 2, 2016
      Reply

      Hi Gene, Thanks, and that's a great post about the C9. Development of DD-WRT is both open source (and so relies on the contributions of volunteers) and ongoing. The result is that each new version comes with some new wrinkles. The good news is that in time these will hopefully be ironed out..

      1. Gene Cooper replied to Douglas Crawford
        on May 5, 2016
        Reply

        Doug: For everyone's info the build that worked on the Archer C9 was release 28598, 12/24/15, (later builds didn't even though I found a video where the approach is a little different and could work with later builds--video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HyPk9dT3J54). The Asus WL520gu worked with the stock firmware (build 3.0.1.4) and the TP-Link TL-WDR4300 worked with all dd-wrt builds I tried, including a very recent one.

        1. Douglas Crawford replied to Gene Cooper
          on May 6, 2016
          Reply

          Hi Gene, Great work! I'm sure this info will be useful to our readers.

  4. Dmitry
    on January 1, 2016
    Reply

    Thank you Douglas, the exposition is clear and concise! Please let me ask two related questions. 1) Is my understanding correct that a single DD-WRT-flashed router can be used as a print server, storage-sharing (NAS) server and a WiFi router at the same time? I am asking this, as many other articles on the same topic say things like "you can set up you SECOND router to be a print server". 2) If I am interested in these three functions (a print server, a NAS server and a WiFi router), which router would you recommend to buy today? In particular, does it need to have more than one USB-port (is there any disadvantage to using a USB hub)? I do not plan to use the factory firmware, but I do not mind flashing it myself. I do not need more than 300 Mbps, but I would like to have a reliable device. Thank you!

    1. Douglas Crawford replied to Dmitry
      on January 5, 2016
      Reply

      Hi Dmitri, Thanks! 1) One DD-WRT router can perform all theses tasks simultaneously. 2) You will need enough USB ports for the all devices you want to connect. I'm afraid that I have no idea how DD-WRT routers handles USB hubs (good question though!) We will investigate this at some point in the future. 3) I can only say that my Asus RT-AC66U is an excellent router (and has 2x USB ports.) Please bear in mind that running VPN is processor intensive, and cheaper routers are simply not up to the task (resulting in slow internet speeds when VPN is used.) This is not an issue if you run VPN through your computer/devices.

      1. Dmitry replied to Douglas Crawford
        on July 9, 2016
        Reply

        Hi Douglas, I've bought a refurbished Netgear AC1450 and installed there KONG's version 26500 of DD-WRT (not his latest, but often mentioned as a reliable build). It works great as intended: WiFi router + printer sharing + USB storage sharing (via SAMBA). Connecting the devices via a USB hub worked right away. Thanks for your help!

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