Windows Print Server Aliases

Windows Print Server Aliases

Windows Print Server Aliases – what is that and why would you even need to think about it?

For File-Servers, you can set up DFS structures and have a single point of entry as from the perspective of the client. It’s a simple named path and works rather flawless if set up right and monitored e.g. with PRTG. But what about your print server? Is it a defined hostname and the printers sit on this host? What happens when you want to upgrade the host to a new windows version or theoretically even do some special DNS routing (that’s very advanced and has hurdles, I will not address this in this posting).

Well – you can sure set up an ALIAS name in your DNS, but soon you will discover you can’t connect to the printers on this server. This is because you are missing some registry tweaks. At this point I also want to make you aware, I saw Windows updates removing those keys, so keep this article handy to reconstruct the registry in case of any issues.

You will need a total of three registry keys added, as follows:

This first key will enable DNSOnWire for the Print-Server itself. This is needed to make the print-server aware that you might use DNS ALIAS / CNAME entries to access him. More can be found e.g. here: Windows couldn’t connect to the printer – Windows Server | Microsoft Docs

This key, DisableStrictNameChecking, we need to configure the SMB server / LANManServer – he needs to be aware as well that we will use CNAMES to access the shares on the server. You can find some more information at the following link: Can’t access SMB file server – Windows Server | Microsoft Docs

And last but not least, the OptionalNames – this is the one key that’s most hidden but still so important. You can also make it REG_MULTI_SZ key. But it works with a simple REG_SZ key and the short CNAME alias that you have specified, you don’t even need use the FQDN.

There are many ways on how to accomplish this one last key, it changed throughout the Windows versions, it was possibly even renamed. Worst I saw on a Windows 2016 server was it vanished after a update session and reboot. So be prepared for that. A simple recreation and reboot fixed the issues.

Also, make sure you reboot after those changes, otherwise it won’t work.

Print Server backup script

Print Server backup script

Print servers need to backed up. This is because of two main reasons. One is that users heavily depend on printers and a not properly working print server will cause imediate helpdesk tickets and unhappy users. The other one is that installing a new driver, might it be a new version, a new model or even an additional manufacturer, can cause other print drivers to act up or even stop working – many administrators know and fear that.

Windows server actually allows you to backup the current print drivers, installed printers and their configuration. You can use this to migrate your printers or to back them up. Of course, you can simply depend on e.g. VMware snapshots, storage level snapshots or other backups of your server. But you also could just export the whole print server configuration while using the scripts below. Those will actually call the Windows API to back up the printers and store it all in a file that you can keep centrally. You don’t just rely on snapshots or a full server backup for e.g. your SQL databases as well, do you?

The script uses a .CMD file that will execute the actual backup and send a email report, while using the SMTPSEND program from Michael Kocum ( for this since I already ad it flying around – you could replace the mail send option with another prepared SMTPSEND client, a VBS script or just remove it completely. Additionally there is a .VBS script that will do a clean up of the target backup files depending on the age of the files in the specified directory.

All the parameters are explained and set in the top part of the .CMD file – I therefor will not explain them here again – you should not need to modify the scripts by default – but feel free to do so. Of course, you should create a scheduled task and execute the .CMD periodically. This can save you time and headache in case you have a malfunctioning print server system. The restore can be easily done through the Print Management MMC that Windows provides you, cause the actual backup files are createed using the same Windows APIs. Your end users will be happy that their printers got back to work in no time, hopefully.