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Print Server Failover

Posted on 2006-07-18
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Not sure if this is the right area to post this. I could not find a suitable topic area.

I have 1 print server with all the printers installed on the server. All the clients connect to this server to send their print jobs.

Now is there a way to have a second print server with the printers installed on the server so that should the other print server go down then i can make the second print server go live and when users print they print without an error happening through the second print server.

I am looking for a solution that will minimise downtime for the users and is simple enough for us to change should the first print server go down.

I have found alot of information and programs on the internet about printer failover if a printer goes down but nothing about print server failover.
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Question by:hmuser
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by:Cyclops3590
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This is interesting; however I've never tried to do this before.

The only thing that pops to my mind is if you are ok with downtime while manually turning up the second printer server, you could setup a second printer server that is identical to the first with the same IP.  Then when the first fails (which your monitoring software should tell you), just go to your second printer server and enable the network card (which should be disabled otherwise).

I'm sure if you look, there has got to be an automated way for the second pc to know and enable the network card (of course this would most likely require a second network card in that server with a different IP.  Just make sure that it has a higher metric than the disabled one.  This way when it turns on, the newly enabled card will be the preferred one.  However, when the primary server is back online, the monitoring software should be able to automate the turning off of that nic as well.

not saying its an eligant solution, but I'm pretty sure it'd work
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by:Steve Knight
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I think you'll find this is called clustering :-)

I don't actually like MS's implementation of clustering, I find it offers more chances of things going wrong than not clustering in the first place but you can easily setup a cluster of 2 or more nodes running a print server on a virtual node.  Effectively the printers are installed on the 'cluster' not on either of the nodes.

You might be able to make a poor man's alternative though I've never tried this.  If you have two machines:  

ServerA and ServerB

You can configure another name in DNS so that PrintServer is an alias of ServerA.  In theory you can then connect a client to \\PrintServer\PrinterA.  if ServerA goes down then change the DNS entry over to ServerB's IP instead.

If this does work then I believe you might need to turn off a feature called "strict name checking".
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by:hmuser
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I have looked into this but this is only good if you have Windows Server 2003 or Windows Server 2000 Advanced or Datacentre versions.

It is not available on the standard Windows server 2000

Any more ideas?
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by:Cyclops3590
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my idea would work on any OS capable of being a print server.....i know its not elagent, but I take it that its not what your looking for
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by:hmuser
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The failover print server will be running all the time alongside the other print server as they both run various other tasks and services as well for the clients. Therefore i could not disable the NIC on the failover server as clients would need access to the services.

If i had the money then yes i could go out and buy just a machine to be a print server and have it sitting there doing as you suggested but this is not the case and it would be silly just to have a machine sitting there waiting for the print server to fail.

It is a good idea but it is not what im looking for, but thanks for your suggestion
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Steve Knight earned 125 total points
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OK.  Variation on the DNS idea I suggested.  Also should work (have you tried the DNS idea btw?).
ServerA   x.x.x.1
ServerB   x.x.x.2

set users up to use \\x.x.x.3\printers

Add x.x.x.3 as an extra IP address on ServerA
In the event of a problem with serverA got into NIC properties on Serevr B and add second IP address of x.x.x.3.

Bingo as soon as the user's ARP cache clears (<60 secs) they are using the print server on the other box.

Obviously all printers need adding to both and both should have exactly the same names and share names.

Steve
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by:Cyclops3590
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the fact that the failover print server has other duties doesn't matter. (except for having the priority set equal on both nics)

Throw a second nic into it for about $20 with the same IP as the primary printer server.  Reference the failover print server for the other duties, via the primary nic.

about the only difference between what dragon-it and I are saying is that mine requires a second nic card in the machine.

The hardest part of this is to automate the process of detecting the primary failing and either add the IP to the interface or activate the second NIC.  Then detecting when it comes back up and remove the IP or deactivate the second nic.
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