We hear a lot of feedback about CloudPrint, mostly about how it's troublesome. I guess when it works people don't always tell us :)
At RepairShopr we don't believe CloudPrint is for everyone, so we make it super simple and fast to access the PDF files of everything so you can print manually like every other software on the market - but for those of you that want the awesome automation - read on.
I believe there IS a configuration that is reliable enough that makes it totally worth it. I ran CloudPrint in my repair shop with this software internally for 2 years before opening it up to the public, so I had a lot of experience with troubleshooting before we even had other users on the software.
Why We Chose Cloud Print
This is a great section to start with, because a lot of frustrated users are like - "why are you using cloud print at all??"
Well, we are web based. Web based software can't talk to your printers, so we could be like all of our competitors, and pop up a system print dialog - and you would have to choose the correct printer, adjust quantity, and print - every. single. time.
Cloud Print is really the only option that exists to get a print job from a website to your printer without all those annoying clicks. We are constantly looking for other solutions - simply because we keep hearing from people that have the below issues - but there just isn't anything else out there.
If you do want to rid yourself of Cloud Print, you can just manually print all your print jobs - like you would have to do in any other web based software out there, we make the PDF files super easy to get to also!
- The printers will be just as reliable if they are USB or Network printers (on the cloud print side that is, of course if you don't setup your network printers properly - you have other issues..)
- You should not do the configuration from a computer that will be having Chrome closed, or logged out of (logging out of chrome stops the printing!)
- If printing stops working, don't panic - troubleshoot asap because it's probably going to print a huge backlog when you do fix it
- When you configure this, you do it on one computer - never multiple (multi-location accounts, it's one computer per location)
Ok - so let's get started with setting it up..
For this configuration, it could make sense to run chrome/cloudprint on the point of sale computer because it probably has access to the most printers, ie, receipt printer, label printer, and the main copier for the shop are probably all used frequently here.
Go ahead and do it. The only thing to make 100% certain is your staff and employees are not logging in and out of Google accounts. Log out of everything, log in as the account you want to hook to cloud print, and tell everyone they cannot log out of that google account.
Now - once it's working, take it a step further and install https://tools.google.com/dlpage/cloudprintservice . This will give you a Windows service that runs in the background and is a little more reliable than Chrome.
Variation for stability
Maybe you find it's too difficult to do this on your point of sale computer, or you have some other need for that machine - go buy a $200 desktop that can sit somewhere in your shop covered in red tape and it does nothing else. Have it configured so you can RDP to it easily from any machine. The moment you notice a printing issue, RDP into it and address it. Not having people using Chrome, logging in and out of things, etc will make it much more reliable.
Troubleshooting the right way
We talk about this in our KB, but it's hard to really grasp. I'll try to explain it another way here..
When you setup cloud print, your Chrome browser makes a link between your windows printers and the google cloud. So now a file can come into google and get sent to your printer.
- Google maintains a print queue
- Google maintains a list of your physical printers - which they connect to through the internet and your Chrome browser
Something that will happen from time to time is printing will just "stop working". This is the nature of the internet, the type of authentication that's happening, and a service that isn't one of their most important.
At this point, especially if you have multiple stores, the absolute wrong things to do are:
- Ignore it for a day or two - you'll have hundreds of jobs in the queue and it's not easy to bulk cancel them - they all need to print
- Go into chrome and delete printers and re-add - this is a super last-resort and probably never needs to happen once things are working properly
So, printing stops working one day - you notice it pretty fast, and are ready to figure out what's up - here we go
First - head to https://google.com/cloudprint from Chrome on the computer that was initially configured and has the printers hooked up. If it doesn't take you straight into your cloud print control panel, like it asks you to login, switch users, etc - that was your problem.
If you get logged in and there is nothing in the queue, there's a chance it was a RepairShopr issue. It's happened a couple times in the last couple years.. We can get backed up, or your printing configuration can get changed by another user accidentally, etc etc. Just look into your account Printer configuration in RS if that's the case. (nothing getting queued up)
If you get right to the control panel, and see queued up jobs - look at the printers, do they say disconnected? If this happens once in a while, like once every couple months - try rebooting the computer and logging back into Chrome, visiting the control panel - and see if the print jobs start coming out. If they don't - there is a very high chance something silly happened like someone changed the USB port the printer is on. (which causes Windows to make a "copy 1" printer, and now cloudprint needs to be told about a whole new printer.)
I did have to reboot my cloudprint server machine every couple months for this symptom - it's no big deal for the pay off of having printing automation.
Lets go back to this issue, someone changes the USB port the printer is on. You should be able to see the "copy 1" printer in cloudprint, and you should be able to have RepairShopr resync your printers and be good to go. Take a screenshot of your Printers page in RS, because those settings will be gone when you resync your printers. Once that happens, reconfigure the correct printers and you are good to go.
Especially if you have multiple stores, this is the right way to do this because you don't want to do anything more drastic to that google account and throw off all your other locations. Doing this essentially adds a new printer to cloudprint, and refreshes your RS settings - but the connections to those other locations printers should still be fine through this.
There are delays..
We here about this all the time, in all of our testing there is basically always a 6 second delay. That's what it takes for a PDF to get from our server, to google cloud, to their queue, to your Chrome browser, and into your printer to get processed. Yes it's annoying, and no, it's not THAT bad. If you have delays longer than this you probably have a very bad internet connection (56k modem?) or a computer/printer problem. We setup tons of shops like this and we constantly see a steady 5-6 second delay. Sure 1 out of 100 will be slower... This is pretty much a steady rule though. (Would you rather open printer dialogs and choose printers, or sit there smiling at a customer for an extra 2 seconds?)
TL;DR - Get a printer server windows machine for $200 at each of your stores, if printing stops working troubleshoot accurately and swiftly, cloudprint will make you very happy.