Enabling printer location tracking

Applies To: Windows Server 2003, Windows Server 2003 R2, Windows Server 2003 with SP1, Windows Server 2003 with SP2

Enabling printer location tracking

In network environments, most users do not need to know the physical location of files, databases, and Web sites. However, they do need to know the physical location of hardware devices such as printers, scanners, copiers, and facsimile (fax) machines. The printer location tracking feature helps users find hardware devices by storing their locations in Active Directory. When this feature is enabled, the location string is displayed automatically for each printer.

Your network environment must have the following to be able to use this feature:

  • A working directory service with more than one site or more than one subnet.

  • A network IP addressing scheme that corresponds roughly to the physical layout of your enterprise.

  • Client computers that can query the directory service.

  • A subnet object for each site. You can create them using Active Directory Sites and Services.

  • Administrative credentials.

If these requirements are met, you need to do the following to enable this feature:

  1. Establish a naming convention for your organization.

    For more information, see Establishing a naming convention for printer locations.

  2. Create a subnet object in the directory service.

    For location tracking to work, you must have more than one subnet or site. You also need a subnet object for each subnet that a client computer might use. The naming of subnets is defined by the directory service. For more information, see Create a subnet.

    Note that to set and manage the directory service site and subnet you need to use Active Directory Sites and Services.

  3. Set the location attribute of the sites and subnets.

    After you have created the site and subnet objects, you need to set the location string for each subnet. Use the Location tab of the subnet property page to set the location string. Note that the directory service site name does not have to be the same as the location name.

  4. Enable location tracking.

    You need to use Group Policy to enable location tracking. For information on how to do this, see Enable printer location tracking.

  5. Set the location of each printer.

    Add the location for each printer in each printer's property page. You can either type the location attribute, or you can click to browse for it.

    Consider adding more information about the location of the printer, such as its room number. For information on how to do this, see Enable printer location tracking.

  6. Test your settings.

    Always test your settings by trying them on several printers, and on different print servers from different locations.

How an end user uses location tracking

Location tracking is used whenever a user queries the directory service. To start the query, click Start, click Search, and then click Find Printers. You can also open the query screen from the Add Printer Wizard while connecting to a printer connection, by clicking Find a printer in the Directory. If location tracking is enabled, the system first determines where the client computer is physically located in the organization. While this is in progress, the location field of the query form displays Checking. After the location has been determined, it is entered into Location. If the location cannot be determined, Location is left blank.

When the user clicks Find Now, Active Directory lists all printers matching the user's query that are located in the user location. Users can change the location field by clicking Browse to search for printers in other locations. For example, suppose a company is located in a building with several floors, where each floor is configured as a subnet. If a user located in the first floor fails to locate a color printer in Floor 1, then the user can change the location to Organization 1/Floor 2 or even to Organization 1 to increase the scope of the search.

Note that the location field is not automatically available for users running Windows 95, Windows 98, or Windows NT 4.0 without a directory service client. However, they can still query the directory service for printers in a specific location, if they know the exact location attribute and type it in the location field.