Why Do My PDF Files Take So Long to Print?

Written by chad anderson
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The Portable Document Format, or PDF, created by Adobe is a document standard supported on every major operating system. When printing PDF files, users often notice that their printers lag, sometimes pausing between each page. This is due to a number of factors, some relating to the PDF files and some relating to the printer's capabilities.

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Network Congestion

In medium to large offices, network congestion may be the cause of slow PDF printing. Since PDF files are relatively large, a lot of data needs to be transferred to the printer's memory before printing can begin. If your office network was not built with this kind of traffic in mind, network congestion can bring PDF printing to a crawl. Further dividing the office network, using additional routers or switches to create subnets, can greatly reduce your office's network overhead and provide faster PDF printing.

Memory

Memory issues can be a large cause of PDF printer slowdowns as well. Many home and small office printers will not have the memory capacity to hold more than a single page of a high quality PDF document at a time. This means that the printer will have to print a page, wait to load the next page into memory, then process and print for each page. On cheaper printers, memory issues can slow PDF printing. Unfortunately, the only way to alleviate this issue is to buy a better and probably a more expensive printer.

Graphics

If you have ever generated a PDF document with images, then rendered one without, you will have noticed that the file sizes drastically differ. PDF files use the images in a high quality format to allow for accurate rendering across a number of platforms. Unfortunately, this means that PDF files with large graphics will also have large file sizes. When loading a PDF file into a printer's memory, this can cause a slowdown simply because of the sheer magnitude of the document being printed. Removing graphics altogether can help increase printing speed.

Quality

Similar to the graphics issue, a PDF file's quality can lead to a slowdown in printing. A higher quality will always mean a larger file size, increasing the chances that the printer's memory buffer, where the printer stores incoming files for printing, could become full, slowing down the printing speed. Essentially, PDF files print as high quality images. Since most documents do not require high quality, try reducing the PDF's file size by reducing the quality settings during creation. Additionally, you can reduce the quality you print at in the advanced printer settings. 300 DPI is typically enough to speed up most print jobs.

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