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What is the best or preferred method for mapping printers on a domain?

Posted on 2008-10-27
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The admin who was here prior to me mapped all 30 some printers to every user via a registry entry and not a GPO. As it turns out, he also had these printers shared on more than 13 different computers rather than using the (perfectly capable 8 core 4 gig) print server which already has all the printers installed. Here is the issue. I want to replace that registry entry with a clean one and map out the printers by department as needed via a GPO. What would you recommend to completely eliminate downtime during the swap over which would be fast and efficient?
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Question by:Trivious
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8 Comments
 
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Expert Comment

by:tigermatt
ID: 22815005

Do you have Windows Server 2003 R2 edition, or Windows Server 2008? If you do, both of those Operating Systems have the ability to push out printers via GPO, rather than using the (horrible) method before which required VBS logon scripts.

See http://www.windowsnetworking.com/articles_tutorials/Deploying-Printers-Group-Policy-Windows-R2.html. To be honest, this is the approach I would suggest.

-tigermatt
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by:Trivious
ID: 22816070
    Actually I have both. I have 13 Servers. I have SBS2K3, Server 2K3 Enter (on 2 servers), and the rest are Server 2008 Enterprise running Hyper V.

     The server acting as print server is Server 2003 Ent. I want to push it out via GPO by departmental OUs, but the issue is that the previous tech manually added a registry entry to do this at:

                                  HKEY_Current_User\Printers\Connections

      We are on the same page, but what would you suggest doing about the registry key that I need to get rid of? Will the new GPO overwrite this key or will it leave the tainted key intact resulting in the good printers and the useless ones showing up simultaneously? I need to make sure that I am safely removing the old printers right before or at the same time I add the new ones.

     Also, I would like to be able to set one of the new ones as default so I don't get a slew of calls and emails about it. They will wonder "Where did my printer go?!".

Thanks for the fast response.
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by:Trivious
ID: 22816083
I forgot to mention the current PDC has not been migrated to 2K8 yet, so the PDC is Server 2003 Enterprise.
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by:tigermatt
ID: 22816268

Hmm... just a quick off-topic question: you are aware that in a network with an SBS server, the SBS must be the holder of all 5 FSMO roles including the PDC Emulator, and it is unsupported to move it to another server such as a Server 2003 Enterprise box?

Anyway, the manually configured setting in the HKCU key for each user will not be removed by configuring GPO Printer Deployment. It will 'tattoo', if you like, so you'd need to manually remove it while deploying the printers.

Since the key is in the HKCU section of the registry, deleting each user's profile and allowing it to be rebuilt will reset it, although a little drastic. Also, with regards to the Default Printer, unfortunately the Windows deployment doesn't set that; I usually tell my users just to set it manually themselves, or you have to resort to running a separate script to set the default printer - not a nice solution but it works.

In Server 2008, you could use Group Policy Preferences, which I believe can set the Default Printer. You'd have to push an update to all your pre-Vista/Server 2008 servers/workstations though, for the GPP to be supported and detected.

-tigermatt
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by:Trivious
ID: 22822595
    Here's the layout. I have SBS2K3 as the PDC currently and 2 - 2K3 Ent boxes, 1 is the file server and the other is the management server (spiceworks etc). I already have the new 2K8 Ent servers up and running but not all VMs are complete.

     Box 1 holds AD side-by-side with SBS2K3 and the 2K8 is the failover for SBS (and the SBS will eventually go away once all roles have been Hyper Vd in). Each box will hold 2 roles in a virtual machine. (i.e. box 1 =  2 VM's--1=AD--2=Exchange 2007 and so on) Once this is all up and running simultaneously (which is almost done--all I have left is MOSS virtual box 2 and DC virtual box 2 and that's it) SBS will be turning into a shiny terminal server.
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by:Trivious
ID: 22822612
By the way, when I remove the registry entry for those printers (which I want to do this week), they will lose their personal preference settings on each printer. Is there anyway to preserve those whilst cleaning this entry?
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Accepted Solution

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tigermatt earned 500 total points
ID: 22823848

Not really, since the preferences are related to each printer mapping, and the new printer mappings will obviously be made to a different location (the server share).

-Matt
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Author Closing Comment

by:Trivious
ID: 31510417
Thanks for your input. I kinda figured this would be the answer I needed. Thanks for reaffirming my thoughts on this one.
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