Pcounter for Windows

Pcounter for Windows is designed for Windows print servers, or workstations setup as "servers" with printer sharing.

Supported platforms

Pcounter works with all versions of Windows 2000 or later.

It works automatically with Active Directory and NT4-compatible domains directly without any need to import or create printing accounts.

  • Pcounter works with both 32 bit and x64 Windows versions.
  • Pcounter works on Windows clusters and x64 operating systems.
  • Pcounter has been fully updated and tested with Windows Server 2008, 2008 R2, 2003 R2, 2012, 2012 R2, 2016.
  • (Version 3.x) Supports databases on Microsoft SQL, MySQL, and Oracle.
  • Pcounter works with Windows Server Core with configuration UIs from remote computers.
  • Pcounter works on networks where Samba is authenticating logons.
  • All client platforms are supported.  Pcounter can automatically assign print job ownership from other platforms (such as Mac and Unix) or delete the job if an owner cannot be found, or they can use the Pcounter Pro popup clients or the Web Client to authenticate their jobs.
  • Pcounter works with multiple and/or trusted domains.
  • Printing accounts can be created in our database in addition to standard domain accounts, for creating temporary accounts or usage at sites where domains are not being used.
  • Pcounter works in Citrix and Terminal Services environments.
  • Built in LPD server with more features and better Macintosh support than the Microsoft LPD service.
  • Integration with external LDAP servers via an additional DLL.
  • Easy integration with NetWare and OES environments.
  • Local workstation print tracking.
  • Intelligent job load balancing across multiple printers.

Features

Pcounter is a complete printer management suite, incorporating accounting, rules based printing, load balancing, pull printing, and much more into an affordable package.

Pcounter can track print jobs from any platform (PC, Mac, Unix) that can print to a Pcounter server.

Pcounter counts pages printed on printers from all major manufacturers.  This covers most lasers, inkjets, and multifunction devices on the market today.   Pcounter also tracks plot size on HPGL/2 and PostScript plotters.

  • Separate pricing for color and duplex print jobs.
  • Enforces printing account balances/quotas for users. Users can check their balances via web browser or using Wbalance, a small Windows utility which runs in the system tray.
  • Keeps a log file of all print activity - for printers hosted on multiple servers the log can be kept in one central location for easy access.  The log file includes user name, document name, printer/queue name, date, time, client station, client code, subcode, paper size, features, byte size, page count, cost, and account balance.
  • Windows users may have a popup window for billing print jobs to clients/job numbers.   Users from any platform (Windows, Macintosh, Linux, UNIX, etc.) can use the Pcounter Web Client for cross-platform print job billing, authorization, and authentication, all from within a web browser.
  • The cost for each page is determined by the paper size used in the print job, allowing variable costs for printers which support multiple paper sizes.   Print jobs requesting an invalid paper size can be discarded.   Roll plotters can be accounted for based on image size.
  • Can generate various printing usage reports and print histories of users, printers, and client codes.  Reports and histories can be saved as HTML, XLS, CSV, or formatted text, can be directly launched into Excel or web browsers, and can be sent by email.
  • Rules based printing for load balancing based on maximum and minimum byte sizes, page counts, copy counts, and color content - print jobs can be deleted, moved to the end of the queue, or moved to another print queue.
  • All print jobs can be automatically held/paused, and global (print job configuration) settings for queues can be automatically enforced.  Each server has a default template which can be used globally for all print queues on that server.
  • A Plot Manager handles batch submission of printer-ready files to printers and plotters, including support for client billing codes and scheduling.
  • Network broadcast and/or email messages can be customized and sent at any time to keep users informed.
  • Customizable banner pages can be used which contain all information about the print job, including the page count and account balance.
  • Administration can be done from any Windows workstation or server on the network, including printer/queue setup, configuration, properties, permissions, and print job management.
  • The Pcounter workstation tools (popup and account balance information) are internationalized in French, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, German, Finnish, Dutch, Czech, Swedish, Danish, Polish, and Norwegian.

 

Services and Ports

Pcounter for Windows server components together form a flexible, modular, and expandable system, and can track printers located on Windows servers, clusters, and workstations.

  • Pcounter Printer Control service
  • Pcounter Data Server service
  • Pcounter Port

Printers which are monitored by Pcounter will use the Pcounter Ports as a replacement for the built-in or third-party Windows spooler ports.  The Pcounter Port is able to precisely monitor the flow of data to printers.  Processing only occurs at print time, resulting in significantly lower CPU utilization and overhead.  Other products which are only Windows service-based cannot match Pcounter's precision and efficiency.
 

Pcounter Port

The Pcounter Port has the following technical advantages over competing products and typical Windows printing environments:

  • Pcounter is able to see exactly what has been sent to the printer and will not charge for unprinted documents.
  • Pcounter can monitor the online status of the printer and handle jobs accordingly (ie. move jobs to other printers if required).
  • Pcounter can query the printer for exact page usage per job.
  • Pcounter can query the printer for color page usage on many printers.
  • Pcounter can efficiently load balance jobs between multiple printers with no CPU overhead.

The Pcounter Port includes support for the following protocols:

  • TCP/IP (Raw/AppSocket) - functionally equivalent to using the RAW setting with the Windows TCP/IP port, typically used on IP port 9100.
  • LPR
  • Local Port - Supports parallel ports and print-to-file
  • OtherPrinter - which moves jobs to another print queue on the same server. This allows support for printers which use protocols not directly supported by the Pcounter Port, such as USB and AppleTalk.
  • Load Balance - Intelligent load balancing among printers.

 

Pcounter Services

The Pcounter Printer Control service and Pcounter Port work together to manage printers and are used at the same time on Windows print servers.

The Pcounter Data Server service manages all Pcounter printer accounting data and can run on any Windows machine, allowing all Pcounter data to be kept centrally in a single location.

These components allow Pcounter the flexibility to easily scale to the size of your network. For instance, if all printers are located on one Windows print server, the data can be kept on the same computer by running both services and installing the port monitors. Likewise, in a distributed printing environment, the Pcounter Printer Control service and Pcounter Port can be used on multiple Windows print servers, while running the Pcounter Data Server service on another Windows computer, or even on one of the Windows print servers.
 

Pcontrol

Pcontrol is the starting point for all network printer management.  It is not necessary to be on the Pcounter server to configure Pcounter.  Pcontrol allows you to do all Pcounter configuration from any Windows machine on the network.  It is possible to get quick printer histories and reports right out of the network queue list and even configure remote printer properties right from your seat.  In addition to Pcounter-specific functions, Pcontrol provides a network-centric view of print queues, jobs, permissions, and SNMP real time monitoring of printers.

Views

  • Network view - a network browser that displays all available servers and printers
  • Custom view - a grid showing only specified printers
  • Zoom - Allows you to focus quickly on all of a server's printers
  • Quick server list - Keeps specified servers in a quick access list

Other Features

  • Viewing and modification of print job document properties.
  • Modification of Windows printer properties.
  • Modification of Novell (NDPS/Bindery/NDS) queue properties: Users, Operators, and Print servers.
  • Create new printers/queues, rename/delete existing ones.
  • Standard print control operations: pause/resume/purge printers, pause/resume/restart/delete print jobs.
  • Enhanced print control operations: cutting/copying/pasting/saving/viewing of print documents, moving jobs between printers.
  • Drag and drop files onto printers/queues and drag documents from one printer/queue to another.
  • Launch printer configuration programs and/or connect to a printer's built-in web browser.
  • Realtime SNMP device status monitoring.
     

 

Pcounter Administrator

Pcounter Administrator is used for Pcounter user, account balance, and client code administration, and for generating reports on printer usage. It can be launched directly from the Network View of Pcontrol or from the program icon. User/group lists can be shown for any Active Directory or NDS/eDirectory context, organizational unit, server, or domain.

The User accounting view is used to manage account balances for users and groups. The network tree in the left pane can navigate NDS/eDirectory and Active Directory domains quickly. Quick user print histories can be viewed, and saved as HTML, XLS, CSV, or formatted text.

The Client codes view is where the Pcounter popup client code/subcode lists are maintained. Codes can be imported or entered and edited manually.

The Client code list associations view allows specific client codes to be assigned to users and groups for viewing in the Pcounter popup. This is a powerful feature which can control different client code list content for individual users and groups.

The Pcounter Pro ID/PIN Numbers view is used to map ID and PIN numbers to user accounts for use with the Pcounter multifunction applications.

Reports

All print histories and reports can be viewed in the Pcounter viewer, or they can be directly launched into a web browser or Excel. They can be saved as HTML, CSV, XLS, or formatted text, and can be sent to others via email using a MAPI-enabled mailer such as Outlook, Thunderbird, or Eudora.

Quick print histories (all print activity) can be generated for printers/queues in Pcontrol, and for users/client codes in Pcounter Administrator.  Unwanted fields can be removed if desired.

The powerful Pcounter report generator is accessed via Pcounter Administrator and has many features.

  • Quick summary reports chosen from one or more frequently used fields (ie. user, printer, client code, etc.)
  • Date/time filters
  • Activity reports detailing overall printer traffic and usage
  • Accounting reports of all deposits and account balance transactions
  • Custom reports from which any field, including directory attributes, can be specified
  • Quick access to favorite reports and recently generated report templates for re-use
  • Output themes, summary reports, detail reports (ie. totals including all job details), statement reports to be used for billing
  • Launch reports directly into the Pcounter viewer, web browser, or Excel

Workstation Popup

One of Pcounter's most interesting features is the ability to have a popup window on workstations which prompts users after each print job for additional information which can be recorded with the print job.  The popup's appearance and functionality is entirely customizable, and the only software that is required to be installed on the workstation is a single EXE file which can be launched from the Startup group or a login script. The attributes of the popup only need to be configured once at the server, ensuring that the popup's behavior is consistent across all workstations. In addition, Pcontrol allows you to preview a sample popup so that you can accurately determine its look and feel before deployment.

Pcounter 2.60 and later adds support for Mac OS X workstation popups that have the same functionality as the Windows popup.

Client code list

The Pcounter popup contains a list of client codes/job numbers that is intended for billing to third parties or for departmental cost allocation.  Users can choose codes from the list, enter information in the form, or can be forced to choose from the list.  Client codes can also be selectively displayed to users based on their login name and/or network group membership, which enables different lists to be shown to different users and groups.  The user's last 20 selections can be remembered and can be easily accessed via a drop-down list.  Pcounter Administrator is used to manage the client code database - records can be imported or entered manually.  (View sample)

Matter number list

This is the same as the client code list above, except that client code lists are 2-dimensional.  Each client code may contain a unique list of subcodes (matter numbers).  (View sample)

Entry form

This is a generic blank form in which users can enter anything they want, or else entries can be validated against the client code database.  Entries can also be displayed as passwords for privacy purposes; for example, in an environment where logins are shared, a client code can correspond to an actual user for future billing.  (View sample)

ID and password

The user is shown a login and password prompt, where a network login name and password must be authenticated before printing can continue.  The ID/Password prompt can be followed by a confirmation prompt in which the user's account balance information is shown.

In the Windows version only, this can also be used for shared logon printer accounting with support for account balances - specific printing accounts are created outside the Windows domain structure and users must authenticate each print job for accounting.  (View sample)

Confirmation

The user is asked a question and decides whether the job will be printed.  The message that is displayed may also include substitutions for the user name, document name, pages, cost, and account balance.  (View sample)

Web Client

Pcounter Web Client is an HTTP CGI application which runs with any Windows web server software, including IIS and Apache.  It duplicates the functionality of the Pcounter Popup in any web browser from any platform.

This is a great solution for mobile users and Executive Suites, where users don't have access to the Pcounter Popup client software, or are not required to login to the network.

Users who print to the Pcounter server via native Windows protocols, LPR, or Samba/SMB are able to authorize, authenticate, and/or apply client billing codes to print jobs without any need for additional client software.  Users are shown all pending print jobs, which can be authorized with a single button click.

Pcounter Web Client can display in 15 different languages, and supports multiple URLs and configurations.

Common applications of Pcounter Web Client:

  • Client billing list (Windows)
    Users can apply client/matter numbers, project codes, etc. to print jobs by choosing codes from a list.   [View sample]
  • Client billing form (Windows)
    Users can apply client/matter numbers, project codes, etc. to print jobs from a form.   [View sample]
  • Job authentication (Windows/Netware)
    Users can logon to the web page using domain/directory accounts.  After they authorize jobs to print, the jobs are assigned to their logon name.   [View sample]

 

Local printer tracking

The Pcounter Workstation Manager utility (WSManager) is used to setup print tracking on workstations that have local printers configured (ie. USB, Parallel, direct IP) without the need to setup Pcounter Ports on the workstations.

The Pcounter Printer Control service (PCOUNTER.EXE) can be used as a low profile print monitor to track local printers attached to workstations. All data is integrated into the Pcounter reporting structure.

  • Requires Windows 2000 or later.
  • Pcounter Popup and account balances are supported.
  • Configurable page count limits are available to prevent users from printing larger jobs on local printers.
  • Printer configuration profiles are available to simplify configuration of common printers on workstations.
  • WSManager is used to distribute software and configuration data to workstations.
  • It is not necessary to "touch" any workstations in order to configure local print tracking.

The trial version included with the Pcounter download distribution supports a limit of 5 workstations. Please contact us for workstation pricing information, or choose Help, How to buy Pcounter from the Pcontrol menu.