Fix Slow Printing Problems in Distributed Printing Environments

Posted by Jordan Pusey

It’s a fast-paced world where “instantaneous” is the rule rather than the exception, which is why there are few things more aggravating than slow printing. Just ask any employee who clicked “Print” ten minutes ago and is still waiting for his or her document to appear on the printer.

In distributed environments, slow printing problems are a real concern because of the very nature of their printing infrastructure. Traditionally, these environments have a central print server that serves as the hub for all printing activity. Print jobs initiated at remote locations are relayed across the wide area network (WAN) to this central server, processed, then relayed back to the local printer at the remote site. This circuitous path is taken in the name of infrastructure consolidation and centralized management, but in practical terms, it’s like routing a phone call within your area code through a different country.

The cause of slow printing can be found anywhere along that there-and-back route. WAN bandwidth is finite, and if it’s a high-traffic time of day when email, streaming video, and web browsing are competing for the same bandwidth as your print job, then it’s likely that you’ll experience slow printing problems on account of data bottlenecks. Likewise, if the central print server crashes or hangs, that can cause issues far beyond slow printing. More like a complete loss of printing availability across the entire organization.

To fix problems with slow printing in distributed printing environments, some organizations retain their central print server and purchase WAN accelerators. Along with being an additional expense (not just of purchase but also of operation), they don’t solve the single point of failure risk posed by central servers.

With this in mind, other organizations choose to station print servers at every major site throughout their network. This localizes print server functionality to avoid slow printing problems. And in the common event of a server crash, it only knocks out printing at its respective site, thereby removing the single point of failure for the whole organization. But it also causes the printing budget to skyrocket owing to the hardware and operating costs for each additional print server that is put in place. Because multiple print servers create a fragmented administrative landscape, organization-wide print management suffers.

A far better solution to slow printing is PrinterLogic. Our enterprise print management solution is ideal for distributed environments because it creates efficient direct IP printing connections between endpoint devices, effectively eliminating the middleman and the heavy reliance on WAN connectivity. Yet it does this through a single central server, allowing your organization to achieve infrastructure consolidation without any of the risks and drawbacks. Even in the rare event of a server outage, end users throughout your organization can continue printing as normal with PrinterLogic.

Beyond simply fixing slow printing problems, PrinterLogic delivers the centralized print management that is so hard to achieve in distributed print environments. Admins can easily deploy and manage printers as well as printer drivers from a single pane of glass anywhere in the organization. Plus end users benefit too. Thanks to PrinterLogic’s intuitive self-service portal, they can quickly identify and safely install printers with a single click wherever they happen to be.

With PrinterLogic, slow printing—not to mention convoluted printer administration and frustrated service desk calls from end users—will be a thing of the past.

Issues with Using Windows Server 2012 R2 as a Print Server

Using the Windows Server 2012 R2 print server is a standard printing solution for many organizations. For a small number of those organizations, the Windows print server is perfectly serviceable when it comes to their printing needs. For many others, however, server 2012 print management is sorely lacking, and both the functionality and dependability of the Windows print server during day-to-day use is insufficient.

There are some common issues with the Windows 2012 R2 print server that make it especially cumbersome and frustrating to use. We’ll take a look at three of them here—and, in passing, some overall issues with print management in server 2012—and then see how they compare with the one comprehensive print management solution offered by PrinterLogic.

Printers do not show up in Windows 2012 R2 print server but drivers and ports do.

This can happen when you’re viewing the list of printers on a remote server through the server 2012 print management console. If it does, try pinging the fully qualified domain name (FQDN) from the Windows print server to see if it results in the name resolution error. A common cause of this issue is that the client system is missing a DNS A Record or the one it has is incorrect.

Slow printing or printing errors with remote printers.

Even when printers and drivers are freshly installed on a Windows 2012 R2 print server, admins and end users can experience reduced printing speeds and limited functionality for no apparent reason. Occasionally this can be addressed in the server 2012 print management options. For each print queue, go to the Sharing tab for the spool settings. Uncheck “Render print jobs on client computers.” Then go the Advanced tab and check the following options: “Spool print documents so program finishes printing faster,” “Start printing after last page is spooled,” and “Print spooled documents first.”

Unable to add or install printers even though permissions appear correct.

Print management in server 2012 revolves heavily around group policy objects (GPOs). This mechanism determines things like which printers are deployed to which users and who has the ability to manage or install printers. Because GPOs are applied hierarchically, that can make it difficult to pinpoint why certain rights are overriding others even when the permissions seem to be in order. Two quick GPO settings that you can toggle when troubleshooting server 2012 print management problems are:

  • Administrative Templates > Printers > Point and Print Restrictions in Group Policy
  • Computer Configuration > Policies > Administrative Templates > System > Driver Installation > Allow non-administrators to install drivers for these devices setup classes

As a final step, under Print Management in server 2012, expand the Windows print server and select the printers you want to list in that directory. Right-click and select “List in Directory.”

PrinterLogic’s next-generation print management solution avoids all of these issues by design. Unlike Windows 2012 R2 print server, its centralized admin console allows printers as well as drivers to be easily and fully managed from a single pane of glass. Remote devices are as visible and accessible as local ones. At the same time, PrinterLogic uses direct IP technology to establish connections between local workstations and nearby printers. This circumvents almost all of the wide-area network (WAN) traffic that remote printing causes in consolidated print environments – and sidesteps the slow printing and other errors posed by Windows print server.

And, finally, PrinterLogic makes server 2012 print management seem obsolete because it doesn’t require GPOs or scripts to deploy or install printers in a targeted way. That means greater precision and greater flexibility when administering printers. So if you’re having issues with using Windows Server 2012 R2 as a print server, why not eliminate the need for print servers altogether with PrinterLogic?

How to Minimize Printer Driver Conflicts in Mixed 32-bit and 64-bit Printing Environments

Organizations that are still using 32-bit printer drivers on server 2012 alongside 64-bit printer drivers are all too aware that conflicts can arise when using these different versions in the same environment. If you don’t follow stringent print management practices, there’s a strong likelihood that a 32-bit printer driver will be accidentally accessed by a 64-bit workstation or your print server(s) will crash when handling a mix of print jobs via different drivers.

Therefore, ensuring high printing availability and preventing printer driver conflicts in mixed 32- and 64-bit printing environments is often a detail-oriented and time-consuming process. And even though your best efforts won’t eliminate every single conflict between printer drivers, there are a few additional precautionary and proactive steps you can take to avoid problems.

Reduce the number of printer drivers to the bare minimum: The fewer printer drivers you have, the less potential there is for conflicts to arise between 32-bit printer drivers on server 2012 and any 64-bit drivers you might have. Begin by deleting printer drivers that are no longer in use. Then see if you can consolidate different versions of the same drivers. Universal printer drivers can take the place of multiple individual drivers, too, so if you have the ability to switch to a universal driver without losing functionality, it might be wise to do so. While you’re in the process of cleaning up, be sure that you don’t delete any essential 32-bit printer driver versions or vice versa!

Isolate printer drivers: Starting with server 2008 R2, Microsoft allowed admins the option to isolate printer drivers. This means that in server 2012 each driver can run in its own process rather than in the same process as the print spooler. Theoretically, this prevents crashes because, when trouble strikes, only that individual process is affected rather than the entire print spooler. By isolating individual 32-bit printer drivers on server 2012, each of those drivers can be kept separate from their 64-bit counterparts when in use.

Don’t allow users to install their own drivers: Although restrictive, this precaution can help prevent user error from causing conflicts between printer drivers. Because the differences between 32- and 64-bit printer drivers can appear negligible to end users, especially if your naming conventions don’t make things clear, limiting users’ options can act as a safeguard.

Maintain separate print servers: This is a last resort, but sometimes it’s best to have a dedicated 32-bit print server and a dedicated 64-bit print server. Of course, this won’t prevent all driver conflicts (print servers have a knack for getting things muddled), but it will help “quarantine” the two different environments more than simply choosing driver isolation. Keep in mind that this will involve added costs of purchase, maintenance and operation, but that might be worth the price of print availability.

Alternatively, you can save yourself a lot of headache and your organization a lot of money by implementing PrinterLogic’s enterprise print management solution. PrinterLogic eliminates your having to worry about mixing 64- and 32-bit printer drivers on server 2012 because it eliminates print servers altogether while enhancing printing reliability and functionality.

Not only that, PrinterLogic introduces unparalleled print management to your print environment, making it easier than ever to confidently assign 32- and 64-bit printer drivers to the correct users or workstations. With PrinterLogic, you can even allow end users to identify and safely install their own printers without having to worry about user error creating driver issues. And because of its direct IP printing backbone, PrinterLogic is a robust solution to the printer driver conflicts that typically bring print spoolers—and printing availability—to a crashing halt.

Print Server Consolidation or Elimination?

Posted by Andrew Miller

Efficient, budget-conscious organizations know that you can never stop searching for opportunities to streamline. That’s why infrastructure reduction has become such an important step in the ongoing, cross-sector quest to keep overhead low, trim unnecessary fat and remain cost-effective, competitive and agile. And many organizations have found that one of the fastest and most effective routes to infrastructure optimization lies in consolidating print servers.

How exactly is print server consolidation beneficial? Aside from the obvious hardware eliminations through basic print server removal, consolidating print servers means less time and energy—and consequently money—spent on maintaining, operating and upgrading your organization’s print servers. In theory, it also means less downtime. Instead of having multiple points of failure that can crash or go offline, thereby forcing printing to stop until techs can troubleshoot and fix the cause, resources can instead be directed to making the remaining print servers redundant. With that gain in uptime, employees can be more productive.

But in real-world scenarios, consolidating print servers can have unanticipated drawbacks. To illustrate, let’s say that you have three locations—a primary site and two remote sites—with as many print servers. As part of your infrastructure reduction initiative, you remove the two print servers at the remote sites and consolidate your printing infrastructure using the central print server at the primary site. So you’ve now accomplished your main task, but you’ve also exposed these three locations to a single point of failure. When the central server crashes, hangs or fails, you now have three separate sites without printing capabilities until the issue can be resolved.

Furthermore, by consolidating print servers, the central server now has to function under increased printing load. That makes it even more susceptible to the driver conflicts and stuck queues that regularly knock printer servers offline.

Unfortunately, as mentioned above, you’ll have to invest in redundancy measures to avoid this. That means you’ll actually have to purchase one or more warm standby printer servers to supplement your central server, which counters any gains you might have achieved through print server removal. Each of these standby print servers also has to be actively maintained and updated. Therefore, at the end of all this, the act of consolidating print servers will have consumed extra time and resources without realizing any actual long-term benefit.

For effective infrastructure reduction, it makes far more sense to choose print server elimination over merely consolidating print servers. By completely eliminating print servers from your print environment, you don’t just remove their hardware, you remove their inherent weaknesses and attendant costs.

PrinterLogic doesn’t just make print server elimination possible – it also makes it hugely advantageous. Our print management solution goes beyond print server removal to provide you with powerful centralized administration, a self-service installation portal that empowers your end users, plus effortless printer and driver management. A single server running PrinterLogic software can scale up to accommodate tens of thousands of printers, yet it remains robust to driver conflicts and doesn’t entail a corresponding increase in management complexity. An independent survey (TVID: 61C-B50-F4D) revealed that 74% of organizations were able to shrink their infrastructure by 30% or more using our solution.

If your organization is thinking about consolidating print servers, remember that consolidation doesn’t necessarily lead to optimization. Eliminating print servers completely with PrinterLogic does.

73% reduction when using printer logic

Ways to Maximize Your Printing Uptime

Posted by Jordan Pusey

In enterprise printing, is there anything more valuable than print uptime? Without it even the most full-featured print environment has zero benefit. And there are real, measurable consequences to being without print availability—because a hit to productivity, even temporary, can result in considerable lost revenue.

By the same token, the greater your printing uptime, the more productive your organization is able to be. Time spent printing is time that is not spent on the phone to the service desk over print-related issues (that goes for end users as well as support staff) or time spent waiting for print services to come back online. That translates to both costs saved and revenue earned.

So what are some ways you can maximize your printing uptime to ensure that your organization is being as productive and as cost-effective as possible?

Minimize driver conflicts: When print availability suffers, it’s not uncommon for a driver conflict to be at the heart of the issue. Maybe it has to do with a mix of 32-bit and 64-bit drivers in the same environment, too many drivers hosted on a print server, or workstation printer installations searching for drivers that are incorrectly named or unavailable. The way to boost printing uptime by minimizing driver-related conflicts is through improved driver management.

Rethink your print environment: Take a cold, hard look at your current print environment. Is it ever going to be able to provide the print uptime that you need? Sometimes big changes to your IT status quo, though daunting at first, are necessary to find the optimal configuration and the best long-term results. A restructure now could equate to huge gains in print availability down the road. Which is why you should identify opportunities for server consolidation, streamlined and centralized print management, increased ease of use, precise and reliable deployments, and built-in resiliency.

Eliminate print servers: On the path toward 100% printing uptime, this step might seem impossible. But rest assured: It’s not. Print servers—along with their quirks and vulnerabilities—tend to be the single biggest cause of printing downtime in organizations that continue to maintain traditional print environments. By eliminating print servers, you’re removing all the complexity and instability of print servers as well as their single points of failure – not to mention all the infrastructure and cost that they add to a print environment.

Implement PrinterLogic: Our next-generation print management solution can help you accomplish all of the above. By providing enterprise-wide administration from a single pane of glass, targeted printer deployments without the need for scripts and group policy objects (GPOs), effortless driver management that prevents driver conflicts, and the ability to eliminate print servers altogether, PrinterLogic is practically synonymous with print availability. Even in the event of a host server outage, PrinterLogic’s direct IP printing technology means your end users can continue printing as usual.

As a result, the independent research firm TechValidate found that 77% of over 300 surveyed organizations were able to increase their printing uptime by 15% or more by installing PrinterLogic’s solution (TVID: 5CC-DBB-F3A).

Just as importantly, the quest for maximum printing uptime doesn’t involve the upheaval you might fear. Fortune 500 companies with more than 2,500 printers have implemented our solution in one day (TVID: 4BF-B4D-090). Another TechValidate survey revealed that 67% of nearly 450 PrinterLogic customers were able to fully install our solution in under five days (TVID: 143-80E-5D9). Such amazing speed of deployment is almost unheard of in the enterprise.

There are several ways you can maximize print uptime. And PrinterLogic does them all—quickly and seamlessly.

How to Cut Costs and Improve Efficiency of Managed Print Services

Posted by Matt Riley

As enterprise technology becomes more complex and the day-to-day demands on IT increase, it’s easy to see why organizations are finding appeal in Managed Print Solutions. MPS providers are essentially consolidating the complexities of managing and supporting diverse printing environments into a single, all-inclusive service. From hardware maintenance, to consumables management, to workflow solutions, Managed Print Solution providers are experts at streamlining the resources and time required provide feature-rich printing experiences for customers across the globe.

Managed Print Services contracts save time and money. Many customer environments have multiple hardware vendors, and Managed Print Services originated as a way to consolidate service contracts across heterogeneous printer and copier deployments. As the marketplace has evolved and matured, MPS providers have expanded their offerings to include print management software and cost-saving solutions to reduce overall printing expenses. As a result, organizations across the world now view their Managed Print Services providers as strategic partners—not only saving money, but also helping them shape the end user printing experience.

As the solutions marketplace continues to grow, companies have multiple levers to continue driving strategic value from Managed Print Services partners. To maximize your cost savings and improve the efficiency of your Managed Print Services contracts, here are a few tips and suggestions.

Centralize your print management: If your print environment is spread across a large user base, centralizing print management through a solution like PrinterLogic allows your IT staff or your Managed Print Services provider to view and administer the entire print environment through a single pane of glass—even in globally distributed organizations.

Streamline your deployments: Driver deployments typically rely on scripting and group policy objects (GPOs), which can be complicated to implement and disruptive to end user productivity. PrinterLogic’s next-generation print management platform provides robust driver deployment options without relying on scripting or GPOs, enabling print management teams to select multiple ways to install printers on user workstations efficiently.

Enhance your VDI: Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) is a rising method of managing user desktop environments. As these solutions continue to grow in popularity, the complexity of managing printing and printer drivers in these environments has increased. PrinterLogic provides a rich feature set that can be utilized within your Citrix, VMware or other virtual solution to provide dramatic improvements to print management and printing availability.

Slim your infrastructure: Most organizations are actively looking for ways to reduce infrastructure footprint. For many organizations, print servers are the traditional method for managing drivers and the general print environment. Many Managed Print Services providers are taking advantage of PrinterLogic’s print management solution to deliver all the management features needed in a modern print environment, while completely eliminating print servers. Print Servers cost money, require management overhead, and act as a single point of failure. With PrinterLogic, you can get rid of all the pitfalls and downsides of print servers while maintaining the robust print management features you have come to expect and rely upon.

Empower your end users: Printer installation problems can be a significant pain for service desk teams and Managed Print Services providers. Without the right toolset, end users typically struggle to install printers and suffer from reduced productivity. With PrinterLogic’s intuitive self-service portal, end users are empowered to easily find and install printers with a single click. This portal reduces print-related help desk calls and greatly simplifies the process for end users to install devices on their workstations.

By discussing these topics and PrinterLogic’s enterprise printing software with your Managed Print Services provider, you can further elevate the strategic nature of that relationship. In addition to cost savings and productivity gains, your organization can enhance the end user experience with powerful enablement tools and driver deployment options. Ask your MPS provider today about PrinterLogic to find out how this can work for you.

How to Evaluate Your Company’s Current Print Management Solution

Posted by Devin Anderson

Every so often it’s important to revisit your current print management solution to see if it’s still working for you. What might have been a welcome improvement five or ten years ago might no longer be effective as your print environment and your workplace have continuously evolved. In fact, there’s even a chance your print management solution could be negatively impacting your organization’s morale and efficiency—and ultimately its bottom line.

To better evaluate any enterprise print management solution, it helps to match its performance against a set of criteria. So what follows is a brief print management checklist in the form of questions that you can ask to see if your current solution is still performing as intended, and to determine if it is able to meet your organization’s existing and anticipated needs.

How much printing downtime are you experiencing? This might be the most basic metric of any enterprise print management solution. If printing is regularly held up by server crashes, spooler hangs or rogue drivers—and the difficulty in troubleshooting those instabilities—something needs to change.

Through its centralized management, driver conflict prevention and inherent robustness, PrinterLogic delivers the stability necessary to ensure uninterrupted printing. The independent research firm TechValidate reported that 77% of surveyed customers were able to reduce printing downtime by 15% or more by implementing PrinterLogic (TVID: 5CC-DBB-F3A).

Is your print management solution future-proof? Traditional print management solutions are still running on a model that was introduced more than two decades ago. Without dozens of supplemental solutions and custom tweaks, this model is unable to adapt to the increasing need for mobile printing, secure printing or enterprise-wide print reporting/auditing in modern workplaces.

PrinterLogic offers optional modules for Pull Printing and Mobile Printing that you can add at any time. These will seamlessly integrate with your existing print environment and provide your organization with powerful, easy-to-use functionality when it comes to features like release printing or BYOD and guest printing.

What kind of infrastructure is required? All enterprise print management solutions have infrastructure requirements. The more fundamental question is whether that infrastructure is necessary. For example, distributed organizations often place one or more print servers in each remote location, driving up costs associated with maintenance, print management and hardware.

Yet it’s possible to retain all your existing printing functionality—and more—without resorting to a single print server. PrinterLogic’s next-generation print management solution can eliminate print servers outright while providing centralized management, full-featured printing and greater ease of use with only minimal footprint requirements.

What do your users have to say? This is an often overlooked evaluation tool but a hugely important one, as printing is an essential function of any workplace. When users are unable to print where and when they need to on account of printing downtime or convoluted install procedures, it can be detrimental to morale, creating an “Us versus Them” mindset between users and tech support.

End users can actually be your biggest asset when it comes to print management – as long as they’re empowered with the right software. PrinterLogic features a self-service portal that enables end users to locate and install nearby printers (even in virtual environments) with a single click.

How scalable is it? A number of enterprise print management solutions bill themselves as scalable, but accommodating a growing user base by simply throwing more infrastructure and resources into an existing solution isn’t exactly ideal.

PrinterLogic is able to scale almost infinitely without a corresponding increase in hardware. By using proven direct IP printing technology in combination with a superior print management paradigm, admins can easily deploy printers precisely to new departments or users without resorting to group policy objects (GPOs) or scripts and can continue to manage printing organization-wide from a single pane of glass.

This print management checklist is by no means exhaustive and will have to be adapted to your organization’s unique conditions and priorities. But it should help you identify key performance aspects of your enterprise print management solution and determine whether or not it’s time to migrate to one that is more stable, more scalable, more future proof, more cost-effective and more capable.

TechValidate TechFact: Increased Efficiency Because of PrinterLogic