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Control Print Queue at Windows, Not Printer

We have a Windows server network and Canon ImageRunner printers.  Occasionally we print large numbers of documents using batch printing software, Batch & Print Pro.  Let's say the batch print software sends 600 individual documents to be printed.  It sends them at a rate of maybe one every 1 1/2 to 2 seconds.  That's faster than the printer can spit them out. Over time, quite a number of documents can accumulate in the printer's queue.  But the queue is only visible on the printer itself, and the Windows queue doesn't seem to be aware of the pending jobs.  If I double click the printer in the Printers & Faxes folder, I can see the jobs appearing then disappearing about as fast as they are sent.    

Because the documents are gone from the Windows queue, the Batch & Print Pro feature called "printer load balancing" which works based on how many documents are in the queue, will not work.  Let's say I set the maximum number of documents in the queue on the main load-balanced printer to be 2.  As soon as BPP sees 2 backed up it switches to the alternate printer, thus doubling your print capacity.  (You can actually have up to 5 load balanced printers.)  

The only way I can get the load balancing to work is if I change both my printers to "offline" within Windows.  Only then BPP load balancing works correctly because jobs are in the Windows queue for BPP to see.  As soon as I turn the printers back online, BPP sends all documents to one printer.

So my question is, is there any way to make Windows more in control of the print queue, and not the printer?  I've linked a ScreenCast video showing two 11 page batches being printed with 2 load-balanced printers.  The first batch of 11 is with the two printers "offline".  You'll see that as soon as 2 jobs are stacked in the queue of the first printer, the rest of the jobs go to the second printer.  Then I turn the printers online and you see all jobs going to the one printer.

http://screencast.com/t/LargqZT1fe
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witzph1
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witzph1
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1 Solution
 
pwindellCommented:
Moving to a Printer "sharing" Server is not going to change anything.  The part you are missing is that the Printer is not where the queue is,...the Printer is where the memory buffer is (call that a queue if you want I guess),...the queue is on the user's machine that the Job came from.  If the printer's memory buffer has the room the entire queue is sent to the printer (meaning the queue ceases to exist),...if the printer's buffer can't hold it all then Windows "spoon feeds" to queue to the printer's buffer as it is able to take it.

Moving to a Printer "sharing" Server simply adds another queue at the server. So not the Local Queue feeds to the Queue on the Server which in turn dumps itself to the printer's memory buffer.  So in the end nothing really changes,...at least nothing relevant to what you are wanting.  The only real productive thing the server does is allow you to control who has access to use a particular printer via the Share Permissions on the Shared Printer.
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pwindellCommented:
So now the Local Queue  (didn't mean "not")
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witzph1Author Commented:
Thanks, pwindell.  

You mentioned "the queue is on the user's machine that the Job came from."  In my case, Batch & Print Pro is setup on a machine and is monitoring a folder for items to print.  When it finds items to print it begins sending them via the printers setup on the same machine.  So BPP is the "user" and is the one sending the jobs to the queues.  Since the queues are never full, the load balancing feature doesn't work.

I've checked with BPP Support and they really don't have an answer to the problem.  They say the product can load balance between up to 5 printers, using the number of documents in the queue as the trigger to switch to another printer.  But in production, the queues never have more than one at a time, so everything prints at one printer, even though the documents are backed up like crazy at the one printer.

Sounds like there really isn't a good solution to my problem, but you did explain how the printer queues work.  

I'll wait a little longer to see if anyone else comes up with a solution, but I appreciate your help.
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pwindellCommented:
Ok.
Sorry I couldn't come up with anything better.
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QlemoC++ DeveloperCommented:
The only way I can think of is if you can access the printer itself, and ask for queue infos or the like. Advanced printers have an OS you can access (if on network), and check for the internal queue. But you cannot use the Windows Print Queue for controlling, if the printer can "eat" all the stuff you push to it.
To allow for queue control, you could try to reduce the available printer memory, so it is not caching that much content.
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witzph1Author Commented:
Thanks, Qlemo.  Makes sense. Since the batch print software uses the Windows queue the load balancing feature probably just won't work for me.  The problem I'm having with this can't be unique to me.  I don't think I want to reduce the available memory for other reasons.

Seems strange that the Batch & Print Pro load balancing would be based on something that never has anything in it.  I can't be the only one encountering this.  
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QlemoC++ DeveloperCommented:
I concur totally. I'm surprised that the software does not take an round-robin approach as second best. That would at least allow to split equally or optionally weighted between all printers.
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