If you are looking for a new or upgraded business printer or MFP for your office, one of the features you should pay close attention to is the memory capacity, or RAM. Though this is not an element of a machine that is typically broadcast or highlighted to consumers, it is absolutely essential to get a device that has sufficient memory to handle your office’s demands. This varies based on the number of users sharing the printer, the volume of tasks, and the type of documents being produced. On average, a small office should have at least 64 MB of RAM, a medium office should shoot for 256 MB, and a large office will want 512 MB or more.
When a job is sent to a printer, whether it is an image or standard text, the data is transferred to the memory and printed from there. So, if you work in an environment that has multiple people continuously printing graphics to a shared device, the memory space needs to be sufficient enough to receive and process that data. Below are some things issues that will arise if you have a printer that does not have ample memory space:
- Incomplete documents are being printed.
- Graphics and images are lacking in sharpness and clarity.
- Print speeds are slower than they should be.
- Only a single function can be used at a time (applicable only for MFP devices).
- Error messages are popping up, such as Insufficient Memory.
- Print jobs are being automatically terminated.
Some office printers and MFPs will have a large memory space built in, while others give you the option of increasing the memory as needed. You can check your manual or the printer manufacturer’s support website to find out if your current unit can be upgraded with more memory. Some machines have a hard drive, or at least the option to add one. Hard drives are a more permanent storage space, as the memory is wiped clean as soon as the machine is shut off. A hard drive doesn’t replace the need for RAM, but it can store documents for processing, decreasing some of the problems above. Printing from a hard drive may take a bit longer than printing from the RAM, but it does expand the size and complexity of documents that can be processed. This is further explained in Printer Memory Management.
To move your fingers, a task is sent to your brain, which processes the data then gives the command to your fingers to move. Printer memory works in a similar way, as all information must go through it first before the print job can be completed. Especially in an office with a shared network, it is imperative to have a machine that has sufficient (and/or expandable) memory.