Using Windows Server 2012 R2 as a print server can be simple or complex, depending on how many clients the server has to support and how much printing they do. For a home or small business network, in which a handful of users need occasional access to the printer, no special preparation is necessary. However, if the computer must support heavy printer use, hardware upgrades (such as additional disk space or system memory) might be needed.
You might also consider making the computer a dedicated print server. In addition to memory and disk space, using Windows Server 2012 R2 as a print server requires processor clock cycles, just like any other application. On a server handling heavy print traffic, other roles and applications are likely to experience substantial performance degradation. If you need a print server to handle heavy traffic, consider dedicating the computer to print server tasks only and deploying other roles and applications elsewhere.
On a Windows Server 2012 R2 computer, you can share a printer as you are installing it or at any time afterward. On older printers, you initiate the installation process by launching the Add Printer Wizard from the Devices and Printers control panel. However, most of the print devices on the market today use either a USB connection to a computer or an Ethernet or wireless connection to a network.
In the case of a USB-connected printer, you plug the print device into a USB port on the computer and turn on the device to initiate the installation process. Manual intervention is required only when Windows Server 2012 R2 does not have a driver for the print device.
For network-attached print devices, an installation program supplied with the product locates the print device on the network, installs the correct drivers, creates a printer on the computer, and configures the printer with the proper IP address and other settings.
After the printer is installed on the Windows Server 2012 R2 computer that will function as your print server, you can share it with your network clients by using the following procedure.
1. Open the Devices and Printers control panel. The Devices and Printers window appears.
2. Right-click the icon for the printer you want to share and, from the shortcut menu, select Printer Properties. The printer’s Properties sheet appears.
The shortcut menu for every printer provides access to two Properties sheets. The Printer Properties menu item opens the Properties sheet for the printer and the Properties menu item opens the Properties sheet for the print device.
3. Click the Sharing tab.
4. Select the Share This Printer check box. The printer name appears in the Share Name text box. You can accept the default name or supply one of your own.
5. Select one or both of the following optional check boxes:
– Render Print Jobs On Client Computers Minimizes the resource utilization on the print server by forcing the print clients to perform the bulk of the print processing.
– List In The Directory Creates a new printer object in the Active Directory Domain Services (AD DS) database, enabling domain users to locate the printer by searching the directory. This option appears only when the computer is a member of an AD DS domain.
6. Optionally, click Additional Drivers to open the Additional Drivers dialog box. This dialog box enables you to load printer drivers for other Windows platforms, such as x86. When you install the alternate drivers, the print server automatically supplies them to clients running those operating system versions.
7. Select any combination of the available check boxes and click OK. For each check box you select, Windows Server 2012 R2 displays a Printer Drivers dialog box.
8. In each Printer Drivers dialog box, type or browse to the location of the printer drivers for the selected operating system and click OK.
9. Click OK to close the Additional Drivers dialog box.
10. Click OK to close the Properties sheet for the printer. The printer icon in the Printers control panel now includes a symbol indicating that it has been shared.
11. Close the control panel.
At this point, the printer is available to clients on the network.
Managing printer drivers
Printer drivers are the components that enable your computers to manage the capabilities of your print devices. When you install a printer on a server running Windows Server 2012 R2, you also install a driver that other Windows computers can use.
The printer drivers you install on Windows Server 2012 R2 are the same drivers that Windows workstations and other server versions use, with one stipulation. As a 64-bit platform, Windows Server 2012 R2 uses 64-bit device drivers, which are suitable for other computers running 64-bit versions of Windows. If you have 32-bit Windows systems on your network, however, you must install a 32-bit driver on the server for those systems to use.
The Additional Drivers dialog box, accessible from the Sharing tab of a printer’s Properties sheet, enables you to install drivers for other processor platforms. However, you must install those drivers from a computer running on the alternative platform. In other words, to install a 32-bit driver for a printer on a server running Windows Server 2012 R2, you must access the printer’s Properties sheet from a computer running a 32-bit version of Windows. You can do this by accessing the printer directly through the network by using File Explorer or by running the Print Management snap-in on the 32-bit system and using it to manage your Windows Server 2012 R2 print server.
NOTE: INSTALLING DRIVERS
For the server to provide drivers supporting different platforms to client computers, you must make sure when installing the drivers for the same print device that they have identical names. For example, Windows Server 2012 R2 will treat “HP LaserJet 5200 PCL6” and “HP LaserJet 5200 PCL 6” as two different drivers. The names must be identical in order for the server to apply the drivers properly.
Using remote access Easy Print
When a Remote Desktop Services client connects to a server, it runs applications using the server’s processor(s) and memory. However, if that client wants to print a document from one of those applications, it wants the print job to go to the print device connected to the client computer.
The component that enables Remote Desktop clients to print to their local print devices is called Easy Print. Easy Print takes the form of a printer driver that is installed on the server along with the Remote Desktop Session Host role service.
The Remote Desktop Easy Print driver appears automatically in the Print Management snap-in, but it is not associated with a particular print device. Instead, the driver functions as a redirector, enabling the server to access the printers on the connected clients.
On Windows Server 2012 R2, Easy Print requires no configuration other than the allowance of Remote Desktop connections or the installation of the Remote Desktop Services role.
However, once it is operational, it provides the server administrator with additional access to the printers on the Remote Desktop clients.
When a Remote Desktop client connects to a server by using the Remote Desktop Connection program or the RD Web Access site, the printers installed on the client system are redirected to the server and appear in the Print Management snap-in as redirected server printers, as shown in Figure 2-17.
FIGURE 2-17 Printers redirected by Easy Print on a Remote Desktop server
A client running an application on the server can therefore print to a local print device using the redirected printer. Administrators can also open the Properties sheet for the redirected printer in the usual manner and then manipulate its settings.
Configuring printer security
As with folder shares, clients must have the proper permissions to access a shared printer. Printer permissions are much simpler than NTFS permissions; they dictate whether users are allowed to use the printer, manage documents submitted to the printer, or manage the properties of the printer itself. To assign permissions for a printer, use the following procedure.
1. Open Control Panel and select Hardware, Devices and Printers. The Devices and Printers window appears.
2. Right-click one of the printer icons in the window and, from the shortcut menu, select Printer Properties. The printer’s Properties sheet appears.
3. Click the Security tab. The top half of the display lists all the security principals currently possessing permissions to the selected printer. The bottom half lists the permissions held by the selected security principal.
4. Click Add. The Select Users, Computers, Or Groups dialog box appears.
5. In the Enter The Object Names To Select text box, type a user or group name and click OK. The user or group appears in the Group Or User Names list.
6. Select the security principal you added and select or clear the check boxes in the bottom half of the display to Allow or Deny the user any of the basic permissions.
7. Click OK to close the Properties sheet.
8. Close Control Panel.
Like NTFS permissions, there are two types of printer permissions: basic and advanced. Each of the three basic permissions consists of a combination of advanced permissions.