Back in July, we posted an in-depth guide on printer deployment with Group Policy Preferences. That article has generated a lot of questions about improving logon times, making management easier, and general best practices. Today, we are going to tackle each of those questions and establish some best practices for Group Policy Printer Preferences.
Note:If you still have a question after this, be sure to leave a comment and I will add it to this list!
Should I use Computer or User side printers?
Computer side printers when possible. These printers install on startup and will save your users a good bit of time when logging in. If your machines are set to automatically start before the work day begins, computer side printers will have zero impact on your users!
There are only two downsides to computer side printers:
- Setting a default printer is harder – we can sort of work around that though.
- Print queue management software (like Print Manager Plus) won’t be able to manage these printers.
If you do have to use user side printers and are worried about login times, read this now.
What should my CRUD method be?
Printers can be set to Create, Replace, Update, or Delete (CRUD). Once you have the printer perfectly configured (including any default printer options set), configure the printer action to Create. Visually, it is easy to remember that a “Green” printer is good to go!
How can I set the default printer under Computer Configuration?
Technically you can’t as the default printer option is disabled for computer side printers. However, you can work around this limitation. First, if your computers only have one printer – it will be selected as the default printer. If you have more than one printer, you will need to think about your deployment order.
When printers are installed, the last printer linked for the user is the default printer. This is how we manage default printers in our environment. In your printer GPO, you will want to put your building wide/site wide printers higher up in the list and your more specific printers lower down in the list. The biggest issue we face is ensuring that software installed printers (like Adobe PDF) are not installed after a user has logged on.
Finally, a good bit of user training will go a long way. Our organization has 20+ different sites. Each site has a unique personality. Sites that are babied tech wise tend to have more dumb problems. Sites that are trained (even through simple emails) tend to have less stupid issues.
How do you name your printers?
This question came from a reader who was just getting started with printer deployments and my answer was, “name the printer in the way that makes the most sense.” I like to see three things in a printer name: the site name, an exact location, and the printer model.
In the picture above, I can tell all three things from the printer names. The site is BHS, the printer is in room 1102, and the printer model is a M401dne. Personally, I prefer the room/building location right after the site name as it makes finding printers easier when a user calls. Finally, you will notice that we pretty much use universal print drivers whenever possible. These drivers have come a long way in recent years and dealing with fewer drivers makes my day easier.
Should I be setting a printer location?
On your print servers, absolutely! Locations allow your users to easily search for printers near them. As seen in the picture below, locations have a weird annotations that are controlled through forward slashes.
When you configure a location for each printer and then configure the Printer Computer location setting in Group Policy, you gain some serious scoping powers! For example, you can limit the number, type, and physical location of printers when your users search for them through the add network printer wizard.
This is a really effective way of delegating network printer installations. The settings you need are found at Computer Configuration/Policies/Administrative Templates/Printers.
How many printers can I put into a GPO?
As many as you want! But ask yourself, “How often will I be changing this GPO?” If the answer is often, try to move the printers preferences closer to the computer by creating multiple GPOs. As a real life example, we have found that having a printer GPO per physical site works really well from a management and efficiency perspective.
That is the End of this Question List
If you have anymore printer deployment questions (or have your own tips), leave a comment below!