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70-270 Windows XP TechNote: Printing
- Overview
- Install and connect to a print device
- Printing and IIS/PWS
- Sharing Printers
- Shared Access Permissions
- Managing Printers
- Troubleshooting


Overview    Back to top

To understand printing in Windows XP, it is important to understand the differences and relationship between a print device and a printer.

  • A print device is the physical printer. This printing device can be connected directly to the print server using a serial, parallel or IR connection for example. A print device can also be a network printer with a built-in or external network interface.
  • A printer is the icon in the Printers folder that represents the software interface between applications and the physical print device.

Multiple printers can exist for a single print device. This is typically done to allow different priorities for specific security groups. For example, in a small company with a Sales and Marketing department, two printers could be created for one high-capacity network print device. One printer would be configured with a priority of 50, and assigned Print permissions for the Sales group. Another printer would be created and configured with a priority of 1, and assigned Print permissions for the Marketing group. This configuration would prevent members from the Sales group from having to wait on their utmost important reports because of a large graphical brochure is printed by the Marketing department. The lowest priority that can be configured for a printer is 1, the highest is 99.

Additionally, a single printer can point to multiple print devices, this is called a printer pool. Printer pooling allows clients to print to a printer that will forward the print job to an available print device, allowing heavy workload to be divided over multiple print devices. The print devices in the printing pool must use the same driver.

An important component of the Windows XP printing services is the Spooler. When client send print job to the print server, the spooler on the server processes and stores the job until the print device is available. The location for the print spooler can be changed on the Advanced tab of the Print Server properties, which can be accessed through the File menu in the Printers folder. The default location is %systemroot%\system32\spool\PRINTERS.

Install and connect to a print device     Back to top

Windows XP provides several ways to connect to a printer, depending on the client version and software. The Add Printer wizard allows you to create printers for the following print devices:

  • Local print devices directly attached to a serial, parallel, USB, FireWire, IR, or SCSI port on the computer. USB, FireWire and Infra Red connected printers can usually be installed using plug & play, hence without restarting the computer.
  • Remote print devices directly connected to the network. These are equipped with either a built-in network interface, or attached to an external network adapter. The most typical examples are printers with a HP JetDirect card or Intel Netport.
  • Remote print devices connected to a remote print server. These are typically printers shared on a Windows server.

Only members of the Administrators are allowed to install Local printers. The options provided by the Add Printer wizard may seem a bit confusingat first; to create a printer for a remote network print device, you need to choose the option: Local printer attached to this computer. Only for print devices that are connected to a remote print server you must choose the option: A network printer. This is the option used on clients to connect to a shared printer on a Windows 2000/2003 server for example.

If you choose to create a Local printer the wizard can automatically detect and install directly attached plug and play print devices when you enable the Automatically detect and install my Plug and Play printer check box. Clear the check box, if you want to add a local printer for a remote network print device, or if you want to choose the manufacturer and printer type, and install drivers manually.

By using the Local printer option, you can select an existing port (i.e. LPT, COM, and FILE port), or create a new port. The latter is typically used for remote network print devices. The new type of port dictates the protocol that should be used for communication between the print server and the print device. Most networks today use TCP/IP as the primary protocol, and virtually all modern network printers support it. Hence, the most common type of local ports, for network printers, is the Standard TCP/IP port.

To add a Standard TCP/IP port, select Create New Port (after you selected Local printer and clicked next), and select Standard TCP/IP port from the Type of port list. When you click Next, the Add Standard TCP/IP Printer Port Wizard starts, where you need to provide a host name or an IP address of the network printer and a name for the port. The name of the port defaults to the host name.

If you installed the optional Other Network File and Print Services component Print Services for Unix, you can also select an LPR port from the Type of port list. An LPR port can be used to create a printer for a print device connected to a UNIX print server or a network printer with LPD support. The line printer daemon (LPD) is the server part, the line printer remote (LPR) is the client part. When you add an LPR port, you must supply the IP address or host name of the UNIX print server or the printer itself. Additionally, you must enter the name of the print queue on the UNIX server, or the name of the network printer.

The DLC protocol is no longer part of Windows XP, hence the DLC printer port that was used to connect to older Hewlett Packard JetDirect cards is not available either.

After you created a printer for one of the Local ports mentioned above and provided the required information, the driver will be installed. You may need to choose the model and insert the Windows XP Professional product CD-ROM or a driver disk.

If you want to create a printer for a remote network printer shared on another Windows computer, use the Network Printer option in the Add Printer Wizard. When you click Next, you will be presented with the following three options:

  • Browse for a printer.
  • Connect to a printer by using an UNC path. For example: \\printserver\printershare
  • Connect to a printer by using an URL.

Windows XP Professional will automatically download the drivers from the print server if required.

If you want to connect to a shared printer on Windows XP, using DOS, Windows 3.x, or from a DOS (16-bit) application under Windows, you need to map an LPT port to the UNC path using the NET command. For example: net use Lpt3 \\printserver\printershare

Printing and IIS    Back to top

When IIS is installed on the Windows print server, i.e. a Windows XP Professional print 'server', the print server and the connected printers can be managed from any client by using a web browser. The web interface allows you to perform the same tasks as with the regular printer management tools. Additionally, the web interface can be used to show the list of all printers on a print server and, if the printer driver supports it, their status. The URL is http://servername/printers. If you want to connect to a printer directly, to manage print jobs for example, use the URL http://servername/sharename, where sharename is the name of the shared printer.

IIS also supports the Internet Printing Protocol (IPP), which allows clients to print to an URL instead of an UNC path. The URL is http://servername/printers/sharename/.printer.
Clients running Microsoft Internet Explorer 4.01 and later with IPP printing support can print to the Internet printers. All versions of Windows 2000, XP and 2003 have IPP printing support, and it is available as an add-on for Microsoft Windows 95 and Microsoft Windows 98 clients. Windows 9x-based clients need an internet printing client from the Windows 2000 Server CD-ROM (\clients\win9xipp.cli\wpnpins.exe). When you connect to a Windows XP Internet print server using the "Connect to an Internet Printer" option in the Add Printer Wizard, the port is automatically installed as an HTTP printer port. IPP packets are transferred using HTTP.

Another way to for users to connect to a shared printer is the Point and Print option. Point and Print allows users to install a printer by right-clicking the printer in the Printers folder of a print server in the Network Neighborhood, and then clicking Connect. The printer will be installed, if necessary the drivers are downloaded and installed and the printer will be ready for use.

Sharing Printers
    Back to top

If you didn't choose to share the printer while using the Add Printer wizard, you can manually enable and configure sharing on the Sharing tab of the printer's Properties, by selecting Share this printer and entering a name for the shared printer. As with shared folders, you can put a $ sign at the end of the name, hiding it effectively from the browse list in Network Neighborhood.

When clients running versions other than Windows 2000 or XP will use the shared printer, you can install all the appropriate drivers (i.e. Windows 95/98, Windows NT 4, etc.) on your computer, so those clients will download the drivers automatically when they connect to the network printer. To install drivers for other Windows versions, click the Additional Drivers button on the Sharing tab. When you install the first shared printer, the %systemroot%\System32\Spool\Drivers folder is shared as Print$. Clients download the drivers from this hidden share.

Shared Access Permissions     Back to top

The Security tab of the printer's Properties allows you to control access to printers by allowing or denying the following permissions:

Print Allows users to connect to the printer, and print and manage their own print jobs. This is the default permission assigned to the Everyone group.
Manage Documents Allows a user to print and manage their own print job as well as other users' print jobs. This includes pausing, restarting and removing print jobs from the print queue.
Manage Printers Allows a user to configure and remove the printer, share the printer and set permissions for the Printer, in addition to all task allowed by Manage Documents. Administrators and Power Users have Manage Printer permission by default.

Managing Printers    Back to top

The Device Settings tab of the printer 's Properties usually allows you to choose the form, i.e. Letter, A4, A5, and additionally, configure device specific settings and information such as font cards and memory.

On the Advanced tab of the printer 's Properties you can configure the printer to allow printing only during certain hours of the day, configure the priority for the printer, and configure spooler settings. Separator pages can be created or a default for PCL or PostScript can be used; check the system32 folder for files with the .sep extension. To select a separator page, click the Separate Page button on the Advanced tab of the printer 's Properties to browse for a .sep file.

The Ports tab allows you to manually add, delete and configure printer ports. If the Enable printer pooling check box is enabled, you can select multiple ports associating multiple print devices with the same printer. The port for a printer can be changed even when there are documents in the print queue. This can be useful when a print device fails and you want to redirect the print jobs to another device. To redirect the print jobs, Pause the printer, and change the port on the Ports tab to an identical print device.

Manage print jobs
    Back to top

Users with Print permissions are able to manage their own print jobs, and user with Manage Documents permissions are able to manage all print jobs. Following are the common tasks related to print jobs in a queue, and are available from the Document menu in the printer's queue:

  • Pause - This will pause the print job, which will remain in the queue.
  • Resume - This will resume a paused print job.
  • Restart - This will restart a print job from the first page. This is especially useful when a mechanical problem occurred, i.e. the print out got stuck in the print device.
  • Cancel - This will cancel a print job and remove it from the queue. Any data already send to the print device will be printed.

    Back to top

Troubleshooting printer problems is probably every system admin's least favorite task. Following are some of the most common printer problems and their solutions:

  • When paper gets stuck in a print device, Pause the printer, remove and replace the paper and Restart the job. This will start the job from the beginning.
  • If the output is garbled, the printer driver probably doesn't match the print device.
  • If everything seems to be correctly connected and configured but print jobs are not directed to the print device, a common solution is to restart the Spooler service.
  • In case of excessive hard disk drive activity, you may need to add more RAM to process the print jobs. If the print job is not processed at all, you may need to change the location of the spooler to a disk with sufficient free disk space.

      Back to top

For more information about printing in Windows XP:

- Printing and Faxing - Windows XP Professional Product Documentation
- Enabling Printing and Faxing - Windows XP Professional Resource Kit Online

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Current related exam objectives for the 70-270 exam:

Implementing and Conducting Administration of Resources:

Connect to local and network print devices.
- Manage printers and print jobs.
- Control access to printers by using permissions.
- Connect to an Internet printer.
- Connect to a local print device.

Click here for the complete list of exam objectives.

Discuss this TechNote here Author: Johan Hiemstra

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