Laptop as a file/print server, or buy an actual print sever?

I have an old, crummy laptop: It is an eMachines 2800 MHz Celeron, with 256 megs of RAM.

I also have a need for accessing my files from multiple computers, and to print from multiple computers as well.

So far, my laptop won't even see my printer, but assuming I get those kinks worked out, then here are my thoughts:

1) Use the laptop as a print server and to share the USB harddrive to the network.

2) Chuck the laptop in a closet and buy an actual wireless print server, and figure out some way to share my usb drive on the net (I think there is a linksys product for that).

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More about laptop file print server actual print sever
  1. If you don't mind having a laptop in the closet, then go ahead and use it. A lot of USB printers don't share well over a network. This is primarily because the bloated software they have doesn't support networks. Typically you can find a standard PCL print driver for these printers though, so you can use that to share it. You might lose some functionality but at least you can print across the network.
  2. Any ideas on how well an HP Deskjet 3940 would work with a print server, so I know if it is an option?
  3. I have no idea, you should probably be able to get it to print across the network but since it's one of the essentially disposable HP printers, I wouldn't have high hopes.
  4. Well, I just bought an el-cheapo Netgear PS-121 print server off eBay, $23.00 shipped. According to Netgear's website, the HP printer I have will work with this device.

    So, with luck, that will take care of the printer.

    No, I need to find the best way to get my USB hard drive shared over the network. I know of the Linksys product that does this, but if something cheaper presents itself, I'd be more inclined to do it.
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