09 November, 2011

Terminal Services Easy Print Advantages & Issues


Lately I have been working on a new Remote Desktop (formerly Terminal Services) server and I’ve seen a couple of problems related to the printers. Windows Remote Desktop Services is a great technology and for some organizations out there is the ultimate solution! Especially, with some new features like “RemoteApp” and “App-V”… It’s a great technology for users and from IT when your server is configured properly and it’s a big headache if you don’t know what you are doing. For everyone out there who is looking into “Remote Desktop Services”, I highly recommend to spent a little time on Microsoft forums and read as much as you can because there is a lot to know before you go ahead and install the roles on your server. In this article, I’ll only cover print features in Remote Desktop Services.

Let me tell you what the problem was before giving out the solution. We have a plotter printer to print out plans for electricians and engineers. I had no problem installing the printer on the remote desktop server directly with the “Add new printer” wizard and my tests were successful but some of the users reported issues with this printer. I think it’s worth to say that these users were using the remote sessions from outside of the company through a mobile 3G internet connection. On the client side, there is nothing special other than setting “printer redirection” as shown here;



So, with these settings, when people hit the “print” button on any application with this printer, either there is nothing happens or the remote desktop session window crashes…
So the problem was related to the “Easy Print” feature of “Remote Desktop Services in Windows Server 2002 R2”. This feature is great for almost any model and make of printers. Basically, it’s for people who have small printers connected to their machines locally that need to print out stuff from the “Remote Desktop Sessions”. You don’t want any user to install a printer on your server but you want your users to be able to print their stuff on their own printers. Easy print feature is redirecting any local printer to the remote sessions and your local printers become available in the “Remote Desktop”. This magic happens with this feature called “Easy Print”. So in our case, the easy print was unable to print out on the plotter. Probably this was due to the driver that the plotter was using.
The solution was hidden under group policy. There is a “Group Policy” setting right under;

Computer Configuration\ Administrative Templates\Windows Components\Terminal Services\Terminal Server\Printer Redirection\

When the policy “Use Terminal Services Easy Print Printer Driver First” was not configured or set to enabled, whether your server has the right drivers or not, the server tries to do it’s magic before even attempting to try the right way. This was causing the issue because our server had already the right drivers that could use to handle the plotters print jobs.
By setting this policy to “Disabled”, we have come over the problem. Right after the changes were applied, users were able to print without a problem on this printer.

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