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Can Commercial Printers Store Data?

Updated: Feb 23

Commercial printers come into contact with loads of information daily. At CityPress, printing lies at the core of our business, and we offer full transparency on how our printers operate. But can commercial printers store data?

We will go into detail about printer memory and discuss the different types, handling associated security risks, and more. By the end, you will thoroughly understand printer data storage and how printers operate.

Can Commercial Printers Store Data
Source: Photo Contributor: Edward R

Why Do Printers Need Memory?

Memory storage is a great benefit in printing. In fact, memory allows commercial printers to process the data they receive and offer faster results. Through memory, a printer stores documents and resources that will be used in future printing.

In addition, memory allows printers to receive files from a computer as fast as a connection allows. Even if the computer sending the files is slower, the printing will not suffer as long as the connection is solid.

To give you some insight into how our printers operate, we will explain the role of printer memory. Instead of downloading the data with every single contact, our printers work by accessing the data stored on the internal chip of a device.

This feature makes modern printers incredibly convenient and great for larger-scale printing jobs, such as commercial printing jobs. Printers such as the ones we have at CityPress may prove a valuable asset to corporate offices looking for print results with zero delays.

Can Commercial Printers Store Data?

A little-known fact about contemporary printers is that they have similar features to computers and mobile devices. To give a more straightforward answer, yes, commercial printers do store data. All of the printers built in the last three decades have memory storage.

Printers offering cutting-edge technology, such as the ones we use, incorporate the same features as computers. This includes system memory, hard drives, apps, etc.

How much memory do printers have?

Printer memory ranges between 4MB to 128MB. Printers with a more significant memory are usually the ones that allow us to carry out more complicated tasks.

The memory in standard black and white printers varies between 32MB to 64MB. While more sophisticated technology, such as color laser printers, offers 128MB in memory.

When the initial memory of a printer doesn’t satisfy production needs, some manufacturers like to add extra RAM modules. However, this is only possible with some printer models.

How much memory do printers have
Source: Photo Contributor: Thotsapol Rinla

Types of Printer Memory

Essentially, there are two types of printer memory: volatile and nonvolatile. Volatile memory gets lost when the printer is turned off, while nonvolatile memory sticks around and needs to be deleted manually.

However, depending on the model, printers can have Flash memory, hard disk drive, RAM, and ROM.

RAM (Random Access Memory)

RAM is a volatile memory, and it is considered the most basic type. It offers the main benefit of data storage - speed. With RAM, both access and modifications happen quickly.

ROM (Read Only Memory)

ROM, also known as Circular buffers, is nonvolatile memory, and this type of memory is known for keeping records, which is why it requires regular maintenance.

ROM stores data such as printer drivers and fonts permanently. Even when the power is turned off, the data remains available as ROM keeps records.

Flash memory

Flash memory is similar to RAM, but unlike RAM, it can store data when the power is off. Flash memory in printers helps store a large number of pages and have them available to print at your convenience.

Hard disk drive

Printers that feature a hard drive reduce the need for data transmission. The hard drive stores frequently used fonts, templates, and other resources.

In networked environments, the hard drive allows multiple users to access the printer simultaneously. It allows for greater overall efficiency and speed.

Printer Data: Security Risk

Contemporary digital copiers and larger networked multifunctional copiers feature a hard drive. This means all the documents, fax data, and images are stored in the printer’s memory. As these copiers have network access, they are vulnerable to data theft.

For CityPress, ensuring our printers are securely integrated is a priority. Luckily, the process is fairly simple. Modern commercial printers have a web-based interface allowing IT administrators access to printer status, reports, and configurations.

Some safety precautions that we see as essential include:

  • Adding a strong security password to the web interface.

  • Enabling HTTPS encryption on the interface.

  • Setting up a network firewall and allowing access only to trusted individuals in the company.

Physical security

While network security is a crucial first step, ensuring physical security is also among our priorities. Some practices we consider most helpful include automatic disk wiping and full-disk encryption.

Automatic disk wiping

Automatic disk wiping (erasing data) is an additional data security type that most modern printers offer. When disk wiping is enabled, the printer automatically overwrites or deletes all saved data.

Full-disk encryption

Disk encryption serves as an additional security level, ensuring that even if intruders get to the data, they cannot retrieve the documents.

Full-disk encryption operates by scrambling all the data on the hard drive. The data can be recovered only by using a secret key.

How to Clear Printer Memory

While some prefer taking all the necessary steps to ensure that the data on the printer is safe, others are more inclined toward clearing printer data entirely. With printers with volatile memory, this is straightforward.

All you need to do is turn on the printer and shut it off for 20 to 30 seconds, and the data will be deleted. This is a standard procedure, as clearing the RAM helps create storage space for new tasks. This process is more complex with nonvolatile printers and depends on the model at hand.

Printer Memory
Source: Photo Contributor: PHOTOCREO Michal Bednarek

Bottom Line

Can commercial printers store data? This is no longer an issue because today’s printers all have some data storage installed.

The storage is of major benefit as it allows printers to reprint without repeating the entire printing process. The amount of data depends on each printer model individually.

The type of printer memory also depends on the model. Commercial printers with a hard drive store data more permanently, while printers with volatile memory erase the stored data once the power is off.

Also, though a security risk is involved with regular printer maintenance, the risk becomes minimal.

Steve Bates

Steve is the president of CityPress and brings a wealth of knowledge from the printing industry to readers, helping them make more informed decisions in an ever changing printing space.


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