Printing from Citrix to a Local Printer

Originally published on December 19, 2017

You’re an end user sitting at a Citrix workstation. You’ve just finished typing a document, and now you want to print to a local printer. It sounds simple enough, right? But, like many end users, you’re underestimating the intricacies of Citrix printing, where even the simplest, most straightforward scenario can be complicated by virtualization.

Yes, even when your workplace prioritizes Citrix printing locally, you can run into trouble. And the cause of those Citrix printing problems doesn’t lend itself to a quick fix when using the native print functionality in your Citrix environment. It could be a driver issue. It could be a problem with the deployment or mapping method. It could be a quirk in a single application. It could just be the sluggishness of Citrix printing in general.

Admins who’ve spent time dealing with Citrix will probably be familiar with this scenario. They’ll also attest to the fact that no amount of tinkering with Citrix printer local settings will be the silver bullet to guarantee swift, reliable, problem-free Citrix printing. There are just too many moving parts in conventional Citrix environments to ensure a simple, one-time solution through the usual channels.

That’s where our next-generation print management solution comes in. PrinterLogic integrates seamlessly with your Citrix solution to enhance and simplify native Citrix printing regardless of your preferred provisioning method or the complexity of your environment. Here’s how PrinterLogic’s direct IP printing paradigm eliminates Citrix printing problems while complementing familiar provisioning protocols:

  • PrinterLogic and Citrix auto-created printers: For Citrix printing locally, you can easily configure PrinterLogic to provision direct IP printers to endpoint devices and then leverage the built-in auto-create or redirection features in Citrix.
  • PrinterLogic and the Citrix Universal Printer: As above, PrinterLogic will provision direct IP printers to the endpoint device. You can then utilize driverless printing to ensure maximum compatibility and streamline driver support. Additional perks include support for home printers and print job compression.
  • PrinterLogic and session printers: Session printers are likely the most common method for provisioning local printers in Citrix printing. With PrinterLogic, you gain support for proximity printing (aka location-based printing) and simplified printer deployment that does away with rights management and all of its related pitfalls, which cause no end of Citrix printing problems and printing errors.

Each of these methods gives you access to PrinterLogic’s popular self-service installation portal, so your end users and admins don’t have to struggle with convoluted Citrix printer local settings and installs. Instead, the portal provides an easy way for them to identify and install local printers with a single click. No frantic calls to the service desk, no support staff getting constantly sidetracked by end users asking for help with their Citrix printing problems, no loss of productivity. That saves time and ultimately cost.

Furthermore, PrinterLogic isn’t subject to the WAN vulnerabilities that are typical in Citrix environments, even when Citrix is printing locally. Because PrinterLogic establishes direct IP connections between the client devices and local printers, print jobs don’t have to cross the WAN multiple times. Along with minimizing print-related bandwidth usage, that can speed up print jobs—a rarity in Citrix printing.

PrinterLogic’s on-premises print management solution and its new Citrix-compatible cloud-based SaaS solution, PrinterCloud, both offer the same small- (or zero-) footprint, cost-effective advantages while bringing unprecedented ease to Citrix printing and print management.

Solved: Remote Desktop Printer Redirection Not Working

Originally published on December 27, 2017

On this blog we’ve previously shared fixes for when your redirected printer is not showing up in a remote desktop session, solutions for when remote desktop printer (RDP) redirection is not working with Server 2012 and general tips for configuring universal RDP printing. And that’s just within the past few months.

Given all the challenges associated with RDP printing, it’s probably not surprising that we’d devote so much space to it. Here at PrinterLogic, it continues to be one of the topics that IT professionals are most eager to discuss with us. More specifically, they want to talk about RDP printer redirection and how to improve it. Is there a quick fix—a hidden setting, maybe, or a hack—that experts and admins use to solve problems with RDP printer redirection not working?

The short answer is no. And yes.

Let me explain what I mean by that.

In any RDP environment, printer redirection is a tricky, multi-step process. First, the server acquires a list of local printers—either hardwired or networked—installed on the remote client. Then a print queue is created in the remote session. When a user clicks “Print,” the remote client looks for the associated printer drivers on the server, and the printer is redirected if that driver query is successful.

Because of these contingent steps, there are a number of things that can go wrong with printer redirection in even the most basic scenarios. For example, if there’s a mismatch—even a slight one—between the driver the printer is looking for (e.g., “Canon ImageRUNNER”) and the name of the driver on the server (e.g., “Canon Image RUNNER”), your end users are almost certain to experience problems with RDP printing. This could be a fairly common issue like a redirected printer not showing up in the session—or something even more difficult to troubleshoot, such as print jobs simply disappearing from the queue.

Aside from double-checking your settings to make sure that local printers are enabled in the remote environment and the correct drivers are installed on the server, there’s no surefire fix if RDP printer redirection is not working like it should. At least not natively.

That’s where PrinterLogic comes in.

Our unique print management solution integrates seamlessly with your existing remote desktop environment to both augment and simplify native RDP printing. Its next-generation combination of centralized management and direct IP printing allows you to administer your entire print environment with unprecedented ease while also minimizing the complexity of printer and driver deployments.

With PrinterLogic, you can perform routine printer management tasks such as renaming printers and updating drivers from a single location and the changes quickly replicate throughout your environment. This can easily eliminate the kinds of issues that result in a redirected printer not showing up for a remote client. Want to change a single property for an entire pool of printers? What about changing the default setting on a single printer? PrinterLogic’s intuitive management console makes these actions almost effortless for any printer or group of printers in the entire organization. All carried out from a single pane of glass.

And when it comes to deployments, it’s just as easy. PrinterLogic avoids the typical complexities of deployment because it eliminates the need for GPOs or scripts while providing you with automated, dynamic and granular methods for getting the right printers into the hands of the right users—reliably and accurately.

You’ll find that PrinterLogic does more than enhance your RDP printing environment too. It can completely eliminate print servers, enabling your organization to save money and time by radically downsizing your print infrastructure. At the same time, PrinterLogic provides you with additional features and flexibility, including comprehensive print auditing capabilities and reduced reliance on your WAN connection. It’s the cost-effective, quick-to-implement solution to RDP printer redirection not working and so much more.

Ghost Printers and Their Proper Exorcism

Originally published on October 31, 2018

Since it’s Halloween, let’s dive into something scary. What follows is a true story about my cousin’s friend. We’ll call him Tyler.

Tyler was a consultant a few years back, digging through the creepy maze of a poorly maintained enterprise print environment. He was tasked with finalizing some reports, and printing them for a big meeting.

When Tyler finished the docs, and clicked print, nothing happened. With the deadline rapidly approaching, he called the help desk. “What printer did you say you were using…The ImageClass MF820CDN?” asked the unsuspecting help-desk agent. “Yeah, it’s right here in my printers list and nothing is happening. What is going on here?” Tyler said.

The agent went silent. Finally, after an elongated pause, Tyler crackled on the line: “Hello…Hello? Hello!,” getting louder with each repetition.

There was a strange tremor in the voice of the help-desk tech when she finally responded. In a terrified whisper she said, “Uh, that’s impossible…That printer’s been offline for 10 years!”

Relax. Ghost printers may seem supernatural, but in reality, they’re more fact than fiction. We’ll discuss what they are, why they keep appearing, and how to banish them for good.

A ghost printer is a deleted printer that keeps appearing and reappearing even though you’ve tried to delete it and then done a server reboot. Here are a few suggestions for freeing this spectre from the chains that bind it to your print environment, allowing it to find peace in the MFD afterlife.

Uninstalling the printer driver
A good place to start is to uninstall the phantom printer driver. In Windows 10, you simply open a administrative command prompt and enter the following: “printmanagement.msc,” which allows you to view devices and drivers, and remove orphaned printers and their drivers by right-clicking and choosing the “Delete” option as shown below:

Then reboot your machine, and with any luck you’ll be free from the wraith’s clutches.

Emptying the spooler folder
It’s possible the poltergeist printer is haunting you is because it thinks it has unfinished business. It’s often due to the fact that jobs are still associated with the printer, and they need to be cleared from the spooler. To clear out the cobwebs, in Server 2012 R2 and previous versions you’ll need to first stop the spooler service from running. It’s a good idea to try this after normal business hours … for reasons I’ll explain later.

Open the start menu and select Control Panel > Administrative Tools > and choose the Services icon. Locate the Print Spooler service and right-click. Then select the option to “Stop” the service.

Keep in mind that once the Print Spooler is stopped it may affect your print environment. Once you’ve completed this step, check the following path:

C:WINDOWSsystem32spoolprinters

Enter the creepy basement of your Windows Explorer, where the operating system stores all of its spool files. Sometimes it’s a bad idea to descend into the cellar, but in this case it’s safe. Down there, you’ll find the file extensions .shd and .shl. These can be deleted.

Once that’s done, you are free to move back to your Administrative Tools console to “Start” the Print Spooler service again.

Accessing registry keys and redirects
It’s possible you don’t have the necessary access rights to remove the ghost printer. Without the proper rights, you can’t remove the incorporeal device—causing it to linger, and haunting your registry in some unknown chamber.

A lingering registry key can keep a printer from being deleted. If this happens, you can employ a diagnostic software tool to scan for errors and then run a repair process to resolve the issue. Might be a more economical approach than calling the Ghostbusters hotline.

Last resort: Boot to your server recovery disk
If the ghost printer(s) appear only in Devices and Printers, but not in Print Management—and if you’ve tried the steps above—there’s one more fix for a deleted printer that keeps coming back. You can boot to your Server Recovery Disc and try emptying the print spooler folder, as well as all registry printer references. With any luck, these steps will banish the printer from the Windows Registry once and for all.

Ghost printers: Just one of many tedious IT tasks
Halloween or not, ghost printers can appear, and they should be banished. It may seem like smoke and mirrors, and feel like you aren’t getting anywhere as you painstakingly go through each step to remove the printer.

It’s scary to think this type of troubleshooting can be routine for a typical print server admin. Whether it’s printer deployments, driver and profile management, or simply maintaining print queues, printer admins can feel haunted by tedious administrative tasks.

PrinterLogic: There is a better way
Perhaps the scariest thing, however, is that some IT professionals continue to manage their print environments the same old way just because it’s how it’s always been done. Perhaps they don’t realize there’s a far better solution to help manage the organization’s print environment.

With PrinterLogic’s next-generation print management solutions—whether our on-prem solution, PrinterLogic Web Stack (formerly Printer Installer), or our SaaS solution, PrinterLogic SaaS (formerly PrinterCloud)—you can eliminate your print servers and replace them with a robust, scalable enterprise-grade application. Either version runs on a single management server, in your data center or in a hosted cloud server, and provides full-featured print management to your entire organization.

PrinterLogic’s intuitive centralized management and direct-IP backbone mean there are no registry keys to struggle with, no spooler crashes, no rogue drivers, no Group Policy objects (GPOs) and scripts, and certainly no lingering ghost printers that keep reappearing.

Spooler Crashing in Windows 2016

Originally published on March 8, 2019

None of us truly believe IT fairies exist. But most of will swear that IT goblins are real! IT goblins are those issues that seem sporadic, spontaneous, and almost impossible to pinpoint the root cause. And it feels like print servers are the ideal nesting ground for these IT goblins.

One of the areas that seem to be the most problematic and hardest to troubleshoot is that of print servers and the spooler service. Though the cause may be hard to pinpoint, the symptoms of a print server spooler crash are obvious!

The first sign of a print spooler crash is your help desk phone starts ringing off the hook because everyone’s prints have suddenly stalled out. The second sign is all the front office employees are ready to break down your door because no one can send any new prints. The third sign of a spooler crash is the steam coming out of executives’ heads because business operations have stopped due to the inability to print.

This is one of those areas where the tried and true “have you tried to restart it” is actually solid advice. If you take this nuclear approach to fixing your print server spooler, by rebooting the server you will restart the spooler service and clear all bad print jobs that may have been the causing crash. Yes, it is a down and dirty approach, and yes everyone is going to need to go click reprint again. But at least the steam is no longer coming out of your executives’ heads.

Don’t want to take the old nuclear approach? You can achieve the same results by opening a command prompt with administrative rights and run the command “net stop spooler” then “net start spooler.” If you are one of those new-fangled GUI IT guys/gals, access the list of services under Administrative Tools in Server 2008, then choose the “Restart” option from the contextual menu after locating the Print Spooler process.

If this is a once-in-a-while occurrence, and those IT goblins just need to go, then it may be time to take a more targeted approach. Here are some of the more common areas those IT goblins hide when it comes to print spooler in Server 2016 and how to remedy them.

Sometimes the goblins are hiding in rogue print drivers. Some print drivers can cause memory corruption or are incompatible with other drivers that may be loaded on the print server. If you suspect that a bad driver is ultimately resulting in the print spooler not working, you can try one of three things:

  1. Enable print driver isolation. This is probably the most highly recommended first step when you encounter print spooler crashing, because it keeps print drivers from interfering with basic software printing processes. By isolating them, they inflict less damage when they choke.
  2. Update your print drivers to the latest version. Manufacturers occasionally release new print drivers with tweaks and bug fixes that address compatibility issues. But keep in mind that updating your drivers can occasionally introduce new problems and incompatibilities. If that happens, then…
  3. Downgrade the rogue print driver. If you’ve identified a problematic print driver that is definitely up to date, every now and then rolling back to an earlier version can rectify the situation. You can pinpoint this by checking Windows Event viewer and comparing when the spooler started crashing and what drivers were recently updated.

Sometimes the goblins will hide in corrupt print jobs. If you aren’t able to pinpoint a bad driver, it may be the print jobs that cause print spooler crashing in Server 2016. You’ll first want to check the print queue and see if there are “stuck” or “ghost” jobs and purge them. Then use the spooler restart steps above. To further pinpoint the bad job you can monitor the spooler as users submit their prints. Look for any jobs opening on non-standard printing ports, non-standard file types, or jobs that seem unusually large.

Sometimes the goblins are in excessive printer sessions. Let’s face it, print servers and Microsoft printing service has not gotten a lot of love from Redmond. The Windows Print Service since server 2008 has been losing feature after feature, e.g. print server clustering, and has not had any major improvements. Even though the server OS that the print spooler is running maybe 8 years newer, those print servers get overwhelmed pretty easily.

So a good area to check for spooler crashes may be watching how many active printer sessions your print environment is establishing with that server. Too many simultaneous sessions will flood the print queue and cause the print spooler to crash. There are workarounds to accommodate additional sessions, but this can involve editing sensitive registry settings. The typical fix for this is to purchase an additional print server. Too bad Microsoft got rid of print server clustering. 🙁

If you are sick of chasing around those IT goblins, a surefire way to stop them from mucking up your print environment is to just completely eliminate your print servers altogether. PrinterLogic makes that possible through its proven cost-effective, low-footprint enterprise print management solution that provides all the functionality of print servers—and much, much more—with none of the usual drawbacks.

With PrinterLogic, instead of print spooler crashing and long troubleshooting processes, you get features like centralized management, self-service printer installation, print job reporting, seamless integration with virtual solutions and the option to easily add Mobile Printing and Secure Printing across your entire print environment. Download a free 30-day trial today.

Your Guide to Printing in MEDITECH

Originally published on October 3, 2016

MEDITECH is the software backbone for thousands of healthcare organizations across the globe that maintain comprehensive databases about their internal operations along with electronic health record (EHR) systems on their patients. MEDITECH is used to store, access and view a whole host of information about the organization in its entirety, its departments and staff, as well as its individual patients. As the central repository and link to that vital data, the importance of MEDITECH in daily operations cannot be overstated.

If MEDITECH has a clear downside, it’s printing – which, as you already know, is just as vital for healthcare companies’ daily operations as a far-reaching and reliable medical information system. Both sudden and recurring MEDITECH printing problems are all too common, regardless of whether an organization happens to be using pass-through printing with printer drivers in the MEDITECH system or remote access printing in a virtual environment like Citrix. Basic MEDITECH printer setup can pose challenges to even veteran IT staff, and identifying and catering to the specific requirements of MEDITECH-supported printers can also be a huge hassle.

This is intended to be a short but helpful guide to MEDITECH printing. So let’s begin by looking at how to set up printing in MEDITECH, followed by some common MEDITECH printing problems and general MEDITECH printing solutions. We’ll also see how many MEDITECH printing problems can be resolved by using PrinterLogic’s print management solution.

MEDITECH printer setup

To set up MEDITECH software to print to a local printer using pass-through printing, in standard installation scenarios this can be configured at the workstation:

  • Launch MEDITECH on the workstation.
  • Right-click on the top left portion of the MEDITECH program window.
  • Click “Workstation Menus” > “Options” > “Printer Setup”.
  • There will be a pop-up window prompting you to select a print driver. You have two choices here:
    1. Either select “PPII” from the choices available in the drop-down menu
    2. Or delete the text in the “Print Driver:” field and type “PPII” (no quotes, all caps) in its place.
  • Click “OK” to save the changes.
  • Print a test document. After being presented with printing options you will be given a choice of MEDITECH print devices. Once again, there are two ways to choose the correct one:
    1. Either select the first option (“LOCAL”)
    2. Or, if prompted, type the word “LOCAL” (no quotes, all caps) in the “Print On:” text field.
  • After clicking “Enter”, your print job should now print on the desired printer and the MEDITECH printer will be set up.

MEDITECH printing problems

If MEDITECH printer setup really were as simple as following those steps every time, many healthcare organizations would breathe a sigh of relief. But that’s not the case. Some of the ongoing printing problems in MEDITECH concern issues such as:

MEDITECH-supported printers: Device heterogeneity is a fact of life in healthcare organizations. They use a mix of photocopiers, label printers, thermal printers along with legacy printing devices that aren’t always fully compatible with the MEDITECH system. Not only do IT staff have to deal with frontend hardware support for these devices, they also have the software middleman in the form of printer drivers. When one of these pieces is out of alignment—perhaps the incorrect printer driver is deployed or the driver is missing from the server altogether—it can result in an untold number MEDITECH printing problems that can be time-consuming to troubleshoot.

VDIs and remote access printing: Mobility is one of the defining characteristics of the modern workplace, and healthcare is no exception. Many healthcare organizations use Citrix or other virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) solutions in conjunction with MEDITECH environments to deliver remote access printing so that medical professionals don’t always have to work from the same terminal—or even in-house—to retain printing capabilities.

The issue here is that virtual solutions add another layer of complexity to the environment. Deployment of printers and printer drivers becomes more of a challenge, as does compatibility assurance. For example, MEDITECH has been known to crash the Citrix Print Manager Service in some VDI environments. In other VDI implementations, MEDITECH printers first have to be installed on each local machine. This means that the users have to set the printers up, then enter the virtual session and have the VDI solution redirect those printers into the session. Every time the user moves to a new workstation or starts a shift, this entails a long process of MEDITECH printer setup—and that only multiplies the possibility of error or profile corruption.

Single points of failure: To manage printing in MEDITECH, healthcare organizations tend to follow convention and deploy multiple print servers and leverage their functionality. This is fine in theory. But in practice print servers tend to introduce MEDITECH printing problems of their own. Potential software incompatibilities and an inherent lack of reliability make print servers a weak link in the printing chain, turning them into single points of failure that can bring a halt to printing across the entire facility or organization.

When using print servers to facilitate MEDITECH printer setup, administrators also have to ensure that new printers and printer drivers are pushed out to every single print server that might need to access that device. If these print servers don’t have the same printers with the exact same settings and configuration, it can result in improper printer installations without the corresponding printer drivers. Even in non-MEDITECH environments, that’s a recipe for printing problems and user frustration.

MEDITECH printing solutions

Given the above problems, there are some general solutions that can improve the ease and resiliency of printing in MEDITECH considerably. These can help address the challenges of remote access printing, printer and printer driver deployment, complicated MEDITECH printer setup, and of dealing with devices that are not MEDITECH-supported printers.

Implement centralized management: Many MEDITECH printing problems can be solved through the convenience and efficiency of centralized management. The ability to view the entire print environment through a single administrative console can enable IT staff to ensure that, among other things, printer drivers and printers are pushed out to all the necessary servers. Centralized management is also an incredibly useful complement to VDI solutions because it makes up for their lackluster native print management.

Add robustness and reliability: Whether the issue stems from the shortcomings of print servers or printing devices that are not included on the short list of MEDITECH-supported printers, finding ways to add robustness and reliability to your print environment will pay off in the long run. Your priorities should be reducing incompatibilities and instability that stem from software conflicts and either making the burden on print servers as light as possible or eliminating them altogether.

Simplify printer installation: Whether your end user’s goal is remote access printing or relatively straightforward pass-through printing, you can avoid many MEDITECH printing problems and reduce the demands on your IT support staff by simplifying routine printer installation and MEDITECH printer setup.

The next step

We’ve now looked at some common MEDITECH printing problems and well as some broad solutions to them. This leaves one overarching question: How exactly should you begin implementing those solutions?

It’s daunting to think that tackling each of these aspects might require a discrete software suite or toolkit. Fortunately, there’s just a single—and simple—answer: PrinterLogic.

PrinterLogic’s next-generation print management solution is designed to work seamlessly with MEDITECH and other EHR systems to provide unparalleled ease of use for IT staff as well as end users, rock-solid resiliency and both the versatility and scalability necessary to keep dynamic organizations printing day in and day out.

Organizations like Princeton Community Hospital have used PrinterLogic’s print management solution alongside MEDITECH to deploy printers and printer drivers precisely and reliably, to compensate for the pitfalls of print servers, and facilitate the process of MEDITECH printer setup and installation for end users.

And the wider results speak for themselves. In a series of surveys with verified PrinterLogic customers, the independent research firm TechValidate found that:

  • half of the surveyed healthcare organizations used our solution to reduce the time spent on print management by more than 70% (TVID: 0C3-0B7-DBD),
  • 91% of healthcare organizations surveyed reported ROI in excess of 100% with PrinterLogic (TVID: 974-51E-75E),
  • and two-thirds of healthcare respondents said that they were able to reduce their remote server infrastructure by 30% or more through PrinterLogic (TVID: 0A9-080-FA7).

Whether your organization is finding MEDITECH printer setup cumbersome, struggling with the demands of MEDITECH-supported printers, or simply facing any one of the dozens of MEDITECH printing problems, PrinterLogic is the easiest, most seamless and most cost-effective way for healthcare organizations to regain control of their print environment and achieve the printing availability and ease of use needed to deliver first-class patient care.

Changes to Printing in Windows Server 2019

Originally published on Feb 22, 2019

Server 2019 is Here!
For those of us who have been operating in the Windows server space for a while now, it may feel odd that a new server version is already being released! Since 2003, IT organizations have had almost 4 years between the stress of server upgrades. But starting with Windows Server 2016, Microsoft has moved from releasing a new server version every few years to a semi-annual release cycle.

Microsoft is targeting Windows Server releases during Spring and Fall about every 18 months. This new release cycle will be consistent with the rest of the major release cycles coming out of Redmond, including Windows 10 and Microsoft Office 365. This new release strategy will bring cutting-edge features to customers much faster, but it may also cause strain on IT departments to keep up with the update cycle and changes in each release.

I wanted to help anyone who is curious about how Server 2019 may impact their print environment, so I put on my scuba suit and did some TechNet diving for you. Here are the most important changes to Server 2019 and printing.

On, Then Off, Then On Again
Most organizations that are taking advantage of Server Core desire a server OS that is lean and stripped of any unnecessary functionality. In Server 2016 Microsoft started enabling print server components by default. However, in 2019 Microsoft has done another 180 and again disabled print server components by default in Server Core.

If you would like to enable the print feature in Server Core 2019, you can do so by running the cmdlet “Install-WindowsFeature Print-Server.”

Removal of Common Type 4 Drivers
Starting in Windows 10’s version 1809 release in October, we saw that Microsoft removed common type 4 drivers that were previously shipped with the OS. Microsoft has removed the built-in type 4 driver repository in order to “reduce the Windows footprint and provide more storage.” This was somewhat burdensome for users who would have to run Windows Update service to load the print drivers they needed for their specific printers.

With the release of Server 2019, we see that Microsoft has taken the same approach by removing the common type 4 drivers that were shipped with Server 2016. This has left many IT departments in a bind when standing up a new Microsoft 2019 Server that will be running as a print server. IT departments now must locate and load the type 4 drivers they need to support their printer fleet. This problem is amplified for an organization that has many different types of printers in their fleet.

Still No Spooler Clustering
One of the implications of Server 2019 and print servers isn’t so much a feature that was added or a feature that was removed, but the rather a feature that is still missing. Starting with Server 2012 Microsoft removed the ability to cluster print server spoolers. This has forced organizations to accept their print servers as a single point of failure. Many organizations were hopeful that print server clustering was going to be reintroduced with Server 2016, but were sadly disappointed. The continued absence of this feature in Server 2019 makes me wonder if Microsoft is paying any attention to their own print server spooling service.

Stay Tuned
With the faster release cycle of Microsoft server versions, we all may ultimately benefit from Microsoft’s ability to react to market demands quickly and release features that benefit enterprise IT environments. Here at PrinterLogic we will keep gladly sifting through and finding the most relevant changes to printing and bubble them to the top for anyone interested. Subscribe to this blog for the latest updates.

If you want to keep your server core as “lean” as possible, why not completely remove the print server role? Or if you are stressing about building out a type 4 driver repository, or want to completely eliminate print servers and the single point of failure, let PrinterLogic show you how to modernize your print environment and eliminate the need for print servers. Download a free 30-day trial today.

How to Export Printers from Windows Server 2008 to 2012 R2

This article is up to date and was originally published April 28, 2017.

In every organization that continues to rely on print servers for its print management needs, it eventually comes time to upgrade those print servers. That upgrade process involves costs, time and other resources that might be better spent on a more efficient and more powerful print management solution, and that’s something I will discuss below. For now, though, let’s assume you’re considering a print server upgrade and would like to know how to migrate printers from Windows 2008 to 2012.

Meet the Printer Migration Wizard

On the face of it, it’s a pretty simple procedure and can be done solely from your 2012R2 server, thanks to Microsoft’s printer migration tool. You can access this—it’s called the Printer Migration Wizard—through the Print Management snap-in found in Microsoft Management Console. Another way you can access the printer migration tool is by typing “Printbrm.exe” in the command line. This, as the name suggests, will help you migrate printers from Windows 2008 to 2012 and import their settings as well.

If the migration process fails from the start, it’s because you need to have the Print and Document Services role installed on the destination before moving on to subsequent steps in the printer migration tool. To be on the safe side, you should backup the source 2008 server with the printer migration tool so you can roll back in the event that everything goes wrong.

Go into the print management console on server 2012. Open Server Manager, go to Tools, and then go to Print Management. Right-click Print Management to invoke the contextual menu and choose the “Migrate Printer” option.

How To Migrate Printers From Windows 2008 to 2012 R2

  1. Go into the print management console on server 2012. Open Server Manager, go to Tools, and then go to Print Management. Right-click Print Management to invoke the contextual menu and choose the “Migrate Printer” option.         
  2. Select “Export printer queues and printer drivers to a file.” Then click Next.
  3. Enter the name of the source server, then click the Next button. Review the information and click Next again.
  4. Provide a location and filename for the exported data. Click Next.              
  5. Click Finish when the export is complete.                 
  6. Right-click Print Management in your console and choose the “Migrate Printer” option to import the printers using the printer migration tool.
  7. Select “Import printer queues and printer drivers from a file.” Click Next. Then select the export file you created in Step 3. Click Next.   
  8. Review the information for accuracy and click Next.      
  9. If you’re running Print Management console on the destination server, select “This Print Server.” Alternatively, choose “A print server on the network” and select the correct server. 
  10. Choose your desired import options. Finally, click Next in the printer migration tool. The process will then take some time to complete depending on how many printers and setting you’re transferring.

Those ten steps will migrate printers from Windows 2008 to 2012 R2. But your work isn’t done. You’ll need to check the event logs to make sure there were no errors. After that you’ll also have to review every printer individually to ensure that custom settings and queues have been carried over successfully—and unfortunately, there’s no printer migration tool for that tedious process. Just as importantly, you will need to double-check drivers to ensure compatibility, rename servers appropriately, and ensure that you have published and unpublished printers properly, else they will be duplicated and old entries will point to the old server.

But what if you could eliminate print servers?

The easiest upgrade process is the one you’ll make from your old print server to PrinterLogic. Just like when you migrate printers from Windows 2008 to 2012 R2, our print management solution has a printer migration tool. The big difference is that ours functions reliably and smoothly, bringing over all queues, drivers and settings as seamlessly as our existing customers have come to expect, and as our new customers are always surprised to discover after years in the world of print servers. From that point on, you’ll enjoy PrinterLogic’s effortless centralized management, incredible scalability, unprecedented uptime and printer installation that’s easy enough for end users to execute with a single click.

A Solution to Printers Not Showing in an RDP Session on Server 2016 and 2019

Originally published on June 2, 2020

The remote desktop protocol (RDP) is a popular way for companies to provide their employees with a consistent computing experience. Even though “remote” is in its name, RDP isn’t just for telecommuters and mobile users. Many enterprise organizations use RDP exclusively because it’s easier to manage and more scalable.

Unfortunately, RDP and enterprise printing don’t always see eye to eye. That’s because remote desktop printing is kind of abstracted from the situation on the ground. Whereas users simply have a nearby printer that they want to print to, their actual computing session is hosted on a distant server. To bring the local printer into the current session, it has to be manually mapped or automatically redirected.

In predictable, vanilla environments, these methods mostly work well enough for remote desktop printing. Where things get tricky is when you introduce specialized third-party software or a dynamic user pool. That can cause the number of printer support tickets to skyrocket, adding to IT headache.

The fundamental weaknesses of RDP printing

As a quick analogy, think of conventional computing like talking to someone in the same room. RDP, by contrast, is more like talking to someone over the telephone. That phone conversation is subject to all kinds of interference—static on the line, audio latency or a dropped call.

In RDP, the wide area network (WAN) is like the telephone line. The WAN is the vital communication link between the local workstation and the server that’s hosting the session. If network traffic is heavy (something large print files contribute to), the WAN becomes a bottleneck. The entire computing experience can suffer as a result.

In worst-case scenarios, the WAN can be a single point of failure that interrupts the RDP session. Beyond causing disruptions to remote desktop printing, that can result in widespread downtime.

Printer redirection and issues with printers not showing

On top of potential WAN problems, there’s printer redirection. In enterprise printing circles, this is a standard method for making printers available to RDP clients. But it also creates a lot of opportunity for things to go wrong. The most common outcome is the printer not showing in the remote session.

Briefly, what happens during printer redirection is that the server acquires a list of printers on the local client at the start of the RDP session. Then a print queue is created. As print jobs enter that queue, the local client cross-checks for compatible print drivers on the server.

If there’s a hiccup or a glitch at any point during this multi-step process, you’ve got a printer support issue on your hands. Generally speaking, the first step—acquiring the list of printers—is often the most finicky.

  • If printers aren’t identified as ‘Local devices and resources’ in the Remote Desktop Connection settings, the server will ignore them, and they won’t appear in the session.
  • They also might not appear unless the ‘Ports’ option is checked under the same settings (click the ‘More…’ button).
  • Keep in mind that you can configure both of these properly but still have a missing printer if the correct driver isn’t installed and given a matching name on the RDP server.
  • The same vanishing act can happen if the server settings override the local client settings. Make sure those client-server settings are in sync. See below for instructions on how to do that in Windows Server 2016 and Windows Server 2019.

What’s changed in Windows Server 2016 and 2019?

The printer redirection process hasn’t changed much in Windows Server 2016 and Windows Server 2019 compared to their earlier counterparts. Which means that they’re still prone to many of the same remote desktop printing issues as older versions.

What has changed is that RDP settings are configured under Group Policy in Windows Server 2016 and 2019. Group Policy is notorious for complicating printer support, and this is unfortunately no exception. Admins will need to:

  1. Open the gpedit.msc file
  2. Navigate to the ‘Printer Redirection’ option under ‘Remote Desktop Session Host’
  3. Then adjust the remote desktop printing settings accordingly.

Another thing to double check is the server-side printer drivers. While Microsoft did try to improve (or just sidestep) longstanding driver shortcomings in Windows Server 2016 and again in Windows Server 2019, admins will still need to vet their drivers for compatibility with their printer fleet and their wider enterprise printing setup.

Solve remote desktop printing frustration

Instead of rooting through buried printer-sharing options and Group Policy settings, you could make the leap to PrinterLogic. 

Through its robust serverless printing infrastructure, PrinterLogic doesn’t just enhance remote desktop printing. It also overcomes the biggest hurdles in enterprise printing as a whole. PrinterLogic eliminates print servers, simplifies management and saves IT from having to provide constant printer support.

By combining a centralized web-based admin console with distributed direct IP printing, PrinterLogic delivers the best of both worlds. Its direct IP printing bypasses the WAN and routes print jobs straight to local printers. That helps cut down on WAN dependency along with bandwidth bottlenecks and print downtime. 

At the same time, the admin console brings greater oversight and smoother deployments—all without GPOs—to the print environment. PrinterLogic’s consolidated driver repository makes it easy to add, update, troubleshoot and remove drivers.

This isn’t just hypothetical. RC Willey is an established home-furnishings retailer that operates across four states. Its IT network is made up of hundreds of thin clients with around a dozen printing devices, including specialized label and receipt printers, at each of its 14 locations. Without the right solution, printer support was devouring IT resources.

The company’s IT department migrated smoothly to PrinterLogic in one day. RC Willey now saves an estimated 80 hours on each print-driver deployment, thanks to PrinterLogic’s combo of direct IP printing and single-console management. Read the case study here.

How to Remove Redirected Printers in Server 2008/2012 R2

Originally published on May 2, 2018

In many enterprise printing scenarios, including remote-desktop environments, printer redirection is a commonly used print-management strategy. But the reports of redirected printers not working are frequent, and there are numerous glitches associated with printer redirection that cause problems for admins and end users alike.

What is a redirected printer?

For starters, what is a redirected printer, anyway? The basic explanation is that it’s a local printer that’s mapped on a remote machine. Mapped this way, users can print to their nearby physical printer even if they are logged into a session that is hosted on a distant server. This is one of the most common scenarios—printer redirection used in remote-desktop or virtual environments.

As you might expect, the link between the remote session and the local environment is more difficult for the software to negotiate than your typical end user expects or understands. For the most part, end users don’t really care what a redirected printer is or how printer redirection works in a remote desktop—they just want to know why clicking “Print” isn’t getting their documents to the printer down the hall.

Here’s what to do when redirected printers are still visible

Of the many issues caused by printer redirection, one of the most common is seeing these printers hang around even after they’re removed through the standard protocols. End users keep banging their head against the wall—trying to print to these devices—only to find that the redirected printers are not working because they don’t actually exist. What’s more, from a print-management standpoint, it’s incredibly frustrating to see something you’ve deleted keep reappearing—not to mention it can lead to confusion over spooler crashes and, in some cases, printing downtime.

If you encounter this issue with printer redirection in remote desktop with Server 2008/2012 R2, the first thing you can try is finding the print-spooler folder. Then stop the spooler (that’s really important), delete the contents of the folder, and restart the spooler. That often purges the deleted printers and solves some basic issues with redirected printers not working. If the redirected printers reappear, try deleting them again though the usual method. And if that doesn’t work, try changing the owner of the printer to Administrator (under Properties), resetting the permissions, and then deleting once again.

And if that doesn’t work, try registry edits

When the problem is more serious, you’ll need to do some registry edits. I’m obliged to warn you that registry-level changes—not just those related to printer redirection in remote desktop—can really mess up your system, so please make sure you have a fresh backup in place before attempting this approach. In three steps:

  1. Stop the print spooler.
  2. Remove the persistent printers from the following print-related registry keys using registry editing software:
    1. HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINESOFTWAREMicrosoftWindows NTCurrentVersionPrintPrinters
    2. HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINESOFTWAREMicrosoftWindows NTCurrentVersionPrintProvidersLanMan Print ServicesServersPrintServerNamePrinterName
  3. Reboot the machine.

I’ve described some of the most common ways to address printer-redirection problems. That said, none are guaranteed in every case to solve the problem or prevent it from happening downstream. To avoid printer redirection problems for good, you’ll want to take a look at our next-generation print management solution.

That’s where PrinterLogic can make life easier.

With PrinterLogic, you can eliminate print servers entirely and leverage the reliability of rock-solid direct IP printing to sidestep the need for any print redirection at all. You won’t have to deal with the hassle of redirected printers not working again. And both your end users and your admins will no longer have to ask, “What is a redirected printer?” and troubleshoot it because the direct-IP connection will be seamless. At the same time, you’ll enjoy centralized control over your entire print environment from a single pane of glass, and get advanced features like mobile printing, self-service printer installation and more. Sign up today to test PrinterLogic SaaS in your own environment free of charge for 30 days.

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