Understanding the Differences Between IPP Printing and TCP/IP Printing

Understanding the Differences Between IPP Printing and TCP/IP

In the realm of network printing, understanding the underlying protocols is crucial for optimizing efficiency and performance. Two prominent protocols in this domain are IPP (Internet Printing Protocol) and TCP/IP (Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol). Let's delve into their differences, benefits, and implications for modern printing environments.

What is IPP Printing?

IPP, or Internet Printing Protocol, is a protocol that enables printing over the Internet or intranet. It was designed to provide a standardized method for printing documents to network printers. IPP operates on top of HTTP (Hypertext Transfer Protocol) and supports both local and remote printing scenarios. Here are key aspects of IPP printing:

  • Compatibility: IPP is platform-independent and works seamlessly across different operating systems and devices.
  • Functionality: It allows users to query printer capabilities, submit print jobs, manage print queues, and monitor printer status remotely.
  • Security: IPP supports encryption (HTTPS) for secure transmission of print jobs over the network.
  • Ease of Use: Users can initiate print jobs directly from their devices to IPP-enabled printers without needing specific drivers installed locally.

What is TCP/IP Printing?

TCP/IP (Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol) is a suite of protocols used for communication over networks, including the Internet. In the context of printing, TCP/IP is often used as the underlying network protocol to facilitate communication between computers and printers. Here’s how TCP/IP printing differs:

  • Protocol Layer: TCP/IP operates at a lower network layer than IPP. It handles the transmission and routing of data packets between devices.
  • Configuration: TCP/IP printing requires setting up network printers with specific IP addresses and configuring computers to communicate with those printers via IP.
  • Driver Dependency: Unlike IPP, TCP/IP typically requires device-specific printer drivers to be installed on each computer that needs to print.
  • Flexibility: TCP/IP printing supports a wide range of printers and is a foundational protocol for network communication beyond printing alone.

Key Differences Between IPP Printing and TCP/IP

  1. Communication Approach:

    • IPP: Uses HTTP/HTTPS for print job management and communication.
    • TCP/IP: Operates at a lower level, handling data transmission across networks.
  2. Dependency on Printer Drivers:

    • IPP: Minimizes the need for device-specific drivers on client devices.
    • TCP/IP: Often requires installation of specific printer drivers to ensure compatibility and functionality.
  3. Security Features:

    • IPP: Supports secure transmission of print jobs using HTTPS.
    • TCP/IP: Security measures depend on additional protocols (e.g., SNMP for management, IPsec for encryption).
  4. Ease of Use and Compatibility:

    • IPP: Offers cross-platform compatibility and simplifies printing from various devices.
    • TCP/IP: Requires manual configuration of printer settings and driver installation, but supports a wide array of printer models.

Choosing the Right Protocol for Your Printing Needs

  • For Modern Environments: IPP is advantageous due to its simplicity, cross-platform support, and built-in security features.
  • For Legacy Systems: TCP/IP remains essential, especially for environments where specific printer models and older infrastructure require direct IP-based communication.


Understanding the differences between IPP printing and TCP/IP is crucial for optimizing network printing efficiency and ensuring compatibility across diverse printing environments. Whether you opt for the simplicity and flexibility of IPP or the foundational robustness of TCP/IP, both protocols play integral roles in modern printing infrastructures, catering to different operational needs and technological landscapes. Embracing these protocols effectively can lead to enhanced productivity, streamlined workflows, and improved security in your printing operations.

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