A Few Print Server Tips (for Windows)

March 01, 2008


I was setting up an old server to act as a print server today and decided to share a tip or two.

Move your print spools to another disk.

Since spooling can take up a bit of I/O, moving this to a disk other than on your system disk can help speed things up a bit. This also helped me a few years ago when I had a 12 GB system partition (remember when vendors shipped drives like that) and needed to free up some space.

1. Open the Printers and Faxes applet.
2. Click on File and Server Properties.
3. Click the Advanced tab.
4. Change the directory of the Spool Folder to the other drive.
5. Click apply.
6. Restart the Print Spooler. Open a command line and run net stop spooler && net start spooler.

Install only the DRIVERS, not the software.

I've seen people do this before, especially with HP or Dell (Lexmark) printers. When setting up a printer on a server, don't run the printer's "install" utility, don't install their special "printer monitor", and don't run any "driver install packages". Always install only the drivers. This avoids all the unnecessary services and processes running on your server. I've found that most of these programs are bulky, eat memory, and will slow down your printing. I've seen a few from the vendors I mentioned already that have memory leaks.

Beware printers on a terminal server.

Actually, don't beware of them. Just don't put them on the terminal server in the first place. Set up all your printer queues on a different server. There are several reasons for this.

1. Disk I/O is an important resource in Terminal Server. When you have 60+ users hammering the same disk at the same time, you don't need 20 print jobs trying to do the same. If you HAVE to have printer queues on the Terminal Server, follow my first tip and move the spools to another disk.
2. Memory usage is another important resource. The print queues will take up memory, but some drivers will spawn a process for each and every user on the system. This adds up quick if you have two or three of these processes per user and a large number of users.
3. If you have a limited amount of hard drive space, periods where there is a high volume of printing will make things much worse (unless you move the spools to another drive).
4. All of your users will see all of the print queues on the system. This can provide some amount of confusion for your users, and you might find them printing to the wrong printer or changing printer settings.

Printer pools and other tips

I found the article Configure IT Quick: Configure print queue servers for efficient printing informative if it's applicable for your environment.

Also see the article Get IT Done: Boost printer performance by adjusting Windows' spool file settings.