10 Group Policy Printer Deployment Best Practices

Printer deployment can be a pain, but following these 10 best practices can make it a lot easier.

Group Policy is a powerful tool that can be used to deploy printers in an Active Directory environment. When deployed correctly, Group Policy can save administrators a lot of time and effort. However, when deployed incorrectly, it can cause major headaches.

In this article, we will discuss 10 best practices for deploying printers via Group Policy. By following these best practices, you can avoid common pitfalls and ensure that your printer deployment is successful.

1. Use a Group Policy Object (GPO) to deploy printers

GPOs allow you to deploy printers to users and computers in an Active Directory (AD) domain from a central location. This means that you don’t have to physically connect to each computer to install the printer drivers and configure the printer settings.

Additionally, GPOs can be used to deploy printers across multiple AD domains and forests. This is especially useful if you have a large organization with many different locations.

Finally, GPOs provide a way to automatically update printer drivers and configurations when they change. This ensures that your users always have the latest printer drivers and that the printers are always configured correctly.

2. Create separate GPOs for each printer type

If you have a GPO that deploys both HP and Canon printers, for example, and then you need to make a change to the HP printers, you have to edit the GPO and potentially disrupt the deployment of the Canon printers.

However, if you have separate GPOs for each printer type, you can make changes to one GPO without affecting the other. This is a much more efficient way to manage your printer deployments.

3. Deploy the same printer driver to all client computers

If you have different printer drivers installed on different client computers, it can lead to a number of problems. For example, if you have one client computer that has a different driver than the others, that client might not be able to print to the shared printer. Or, if you have multiple drivers installed, the print spooler service might have difficulty managing them all, which could lead to performance issues.

To avoid these problems, it’s best to deploy the same printer driver to all client computers. That way, you can be sure that everyone will be able to print to the shared printer, and the print spooler service will be able to manage the drivers more easily.

4. Don’t use roaming profiles with redirected printers

When a user logs in, their roaming profile is copied down to the local machine. This can take some time, depending on the size of the profile and the speed of the network connection. If the printers are redirected before the profile has finished copying down, the printers will not be available to the user until the profile has finished copying.

To avoid this issue, it’s best to use mandatory profiles or to redirect the printers after the user has logged in and their roaming profile has been completely copied down.

5. Make sure that users have permission to install printers

If users don’t have permission to install printers, they won’t be able to install the printers that you deploy via group policy. This can lead to a number of problems, including:

– Users not having the printers that they need
– Help desk calls from users who can’t install printers
– Confusion about why some users have certain printers and others don’t

To avoid these problems, make sure that you give your users permission to install printers before you deploy any printers via group policy.

6. Test your deployment before you roll it out

If you don’t test your deployment, you could end up rolling out a change that breaks something else in your environment. For example, if you deploy a printer driver update without first testing it, you could find that the new driver is incompatible with some of your older printers. This would cause those printers to stop working, and your users would be unable to print.

To avoid this type of situation, always test your group policy changes in a test environment before deploying them to your production environment. That way, you can be sure that your changes will work as expected before they impact your users.

7. Monitor print queues and spooler performance

If you don’t monitor your print queues and spooler performance, you could end up with a lot of wasted paper and toner, as well as frustrated users. Print jobs can get stuck in the queue, or they may not print correctly, resulting in pages that are blank or have missing text.

To avoid these problems, it’s important to monitor your print queues and spoolers on a regular basis. You can use the Windows Event Viewer to do this, or you can install a third-party monitoring tool.

Once you’ve identified any issues, you can take steps to fix them, such as restarting the print spooler service or clearing the print queue.

8. Use Windows Server 2008 R2 or later

When you deploy printers using group policy, the process of creating and deploying the printer objects is handled by a Print Management Server (PMS). The PMS is a role that can be installed on any Windows Server 2008 R2 or later machine.

The PMS handles all of the heavy lifting when it comes to creating and deploying printer objects. It takes care of tasks like generating the correct printer driver packages, creating the printer objects in Active Directory, and deploying the printers to the appropriate computers and users.

Using a PMS eliminates the need for manual intervention, which can lead to errors. It also makes it easy to roll back changes if something goes wrong.

9. Use a 64-bit server operating system

The primary reason is that the Print Management Console (PMC) is a 32-bit application. As such, it can only deploy printers to clients running a 32-bit operating system.

While you could use the Printbrm.exe command-line tool to export and import printer settings from a 64-bit server to a 32-bit server, this is not ideal because it’s a manual process.

Additionally, using a 64-bit server gives you access to additional features, such as driver isolation and Windows PowerShell cmdlets for managing printers.

10. Use a 64-bit print server if possible

The main reason is that the Windows Print Spooler is a 32-bit application, and it can only address 4 GB of memory. So if you have a lot of printers or a lot of print jobs, that 4 GB limit can be reached very quickly, causing performance problems.

A 64-bit print server can address much more memory, so it’s less likely to run into performance issues. In addition, a 64-bit print server can take advantage of newer features in Windows Server, such as Cluster Shared Volumes (CSV).

If you’re using an older version of Windows Server, you may not have a choice but to use a 32-bit print server. In that case, you can try to minimize the number of printers and print jobs by using printer pools and print job quotas.


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