Tip: High Availability Printing with the Print Management Console

With Windows Vista client computers and the Windows Vista Print Management console, printer administrators can easily provide users with high printer availability. This can be achieved by moving users from the print queues on one server to identical print queues (for the same physical printers) on another server when the first server is unavailable.

First, use the Print Management console to deploy printers to a number of users using a Group Policy object (let’s say \\ServerA\ColorPrinter, with GPO1) and link GPO1 to an OU with a number of users or computers.

Then, using the Print Server import/export tool, do a backup of a print server. In the Print Management console, right-click a print server and select Export Printers To A File. All the print queues and printer drivers will be exported to a .printerExport file. Alternatively, you can use the command-line tool Printbrm.exe (in %WinDir%\System32\spool\tools), either from the command line or from Task Scheduler, to do periodic backups of the print server.

When a print server goes down because of a hardware failure, the administrator can easily move users to a new server. On the new server (Server2), use the Print Management console to import the .printerExport file. New print queues will now be created (such as \\Server2\ColorPrinter, if the old server had \\Server1\ColorPrinter).

Using the deployed printers functionality in the Print Management console, deploy the printers using GPO2. With the Group Policy Management tool, disable the link to GPO1. The print queues from Server1 will be undeployed and the print queues from GPO2 (Server2) will be installed.

When the old print server is online again, the link to GPO2 can be disabled, and the link to GPO1 can be enabled.

From the Microsoft Press book Windows Vista Resource Kit, Second Edition.

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