One of the big challenges for System Administrators is to make sure users have the right network printers mapped. Printer management within the network includes many steps. Let me explain what the IT Printer Management really does and why it is useful.

This is assuming you have central Print-Servers that hold all your printers. Now, some off them might be central and are deployed per GPO to specific groups of users. Others might be desk printers and only a few users have them connected as network printer too their user profile. Additionally users most likely are able to connect to any other printer within the network.

What you end up with is that theoretically any user could have any printer connected. Of course, some might be restricted printers they can not connect – but most likely you have users connecting to many printers.

Lets assume further you have a naming convention that actually comes from an asset tag or the name of the printer can not be re-used – what is best practice for various reasons.

Now the printer PRN001 gets replaced with printer PRN002 – but who is actually using it? You might know the primary users, but are there any other users connecting to it or having it mapped through the print-server?

Standard Microsoft Windows server and client tools don’t let you see that nor manage it very well – besides some GPOs that you could use etc.

This is where the IT Printer Management will help you.

What it does:

  • at every logon of a user it will read out all connected printers / actually network printers and locally installed printers
  • it writes this information to a little database
    • user who logged on
    • computer the user logged on to
    • printers that are mapped to the user – network printers
    • printers that are locally installed – local printers
  • it checks for the network printers if there is an replacement or delete setting
    • deletes the printers
    • maps / connects to the replacement if set

Why is this helpful now? Let’s go again with our example of PRN001 is replaced by PRN002.

Example:

  1. you replaced the printer physically and removed the old share PRN001 from your print-server
  2. you configured the back-end-database of the IT Printer Management to replace PRN001 with PRN002
    1. user logs on
    2. PRN001 is detected –
    3. the IT Printer Management tells the script it should be replaced by PRN002 
      1. PRN001 will be deleted from the user profile
      2. PRN002 will be connected automatically to the user profile
    4. a log note will be written to the database

You don’t have to worry if a user is off-site or on vacation or didn’t logon to a specific workstation for months with a local profile – the printer PRN001 will be deleted and PRN002 will be connected as long the configuration in the database exists.

This is as well very helpful if you want to transition to a new print server – or even to an print-server alias name, e.g.: PRINTSERVER-01 to PRINTERS – while PRINTSERVER-01 would be the hostname of the central print server and PRINTERS would be nothing but an DNS alias for it – making it easy to replace the host behind it – or have some load balancing behind it etc.

The same example is true if you want to upgrade from PRINTSERVER-01 to PRINTSERVER-02 due to an OS upgrade etc… you want to make a smooth transition and not a hard-cut-over in the middle of the night hoping nothing breaks the next morning.

What happens here is that all those locally mapped printers should be replaced with the new alias name or the new server name. Well, the same principle like in the example above would be true, just that PRN001 stays PRN001 but is mapped from another server. See the following example where we go from \\PRINTSERVER-01\PRN001 to \\PRINTSERVER-02\PRN001.

Example:

  1. you installed PRINTSERVER-02 and shared PRN001 already
  2. you want to retire PRINTSERVER-01 soon – but need to make sure all users still can print
  3. you configured the back-end-database of the IT Printer Management to replace \\PRINTSERVER-01\PRN001 with \\PRINTSERVER-02\PRN001
    1. user logs on
    2. PRN001 is detected – it is mapped from the old source PRINTSERVER-01
    3. the IT Printer Management tells the script it should be replaced by \\PRINTSERVER-02\PRN001
      1. \\PRINTSERVER-01\PRN001 will be deleted from the user profile
      2. \\PRINTSERVER-02\PRN001 will be connected automatically to the user profile
    4. a log note will be written to the database