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Printing over a VPN

Posted on 2013-12-03
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Last Modified: 2014-01-07
We have a process setup that allows one of our vendors to print from a windows application back to a printer on our network.  Our problem is that our vendors internet connection becomes saturated and connectivity starts to become intermittent.  The telnet and Citrix apps seem to be designed to handle this, but the windows print queue does not.

The windows print queue acts like as soon as can't reach the remote Q the first time it gives up.  All the remaining print jobs just seem to sit in the print Q on the users machine.

Does that windows print Q have parameters that are adjustable ?
Can we set the Q to keep retrying every minute until successful ?

Thanks
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Question by:sidwelle
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Expert Comment

by:ylandrum
ID: 39694009
If I understand you correctly, it sounds like your vendor has it set up as a network printer pointing back to a local machine on your local network that is sharing the printer out. In that case your local machine on your LAN is the one hosting the print spooler.

Does this printer have its own network connection and IP address on your LAN? If so, then try having the vendor set it up as a local printer on their machine, connected to a standard TCP-IP port pointing to the printer's IP address. That way, the print spooler is local to the vendor's machine and spooling will not be affected by the VPN connection. Once the document is spooled, then it will send the print job to the printer via tcp-ip which, because it is at a lower layer, is a lot more resilient than trying to print to a remote spool over a saturated link (network printing is at the highest layer-application).

If I misunderstood and that's how it IS set up, then try it the other way; set it up as a printer on one of your machines and share it out to the vendor; s/he would then install it as a network printer.

The only spooler settings I am aware of are those available in the printer properties' Advanced tab.
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Author Comment

by:sidwelle
ID: 39694037
Printer is not shared, Prints back to a socket (ip, port).
Seems to work fine as long as vendor does not have a full staff or prints off hours.
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Expert Comment

by:wyliecoyoteuk
ID: 39696605
Make sure that the spooling in the print driver>advanced tab is set to "start printing after last page has spooled"
Disabling "advanced printer functions" (MS EMF spooling) may reduce spool file size.

In the ports tab, disable bidirectional communication, and in the port config disable SNMP.

These settings will all reduce timeouts, and ensure that jobs are not truncated, which can  lock the spooler.
If possible, reduce the print resolution.

Some printers support FTP printing, which with the right FTP client, supports resuming paused jobs.

If the printer has a hard disk, enable print spooling to the hard disk (some printers without a hard disk have a RAM disk capability that can be enabled), and check the buffer and timeout settings on the printer, if available, increase both.
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Author Comment

by:sidwelle
ID: 39696850
All the options are set like you mentioned.  What I am really looking for is a method configuring the printer to just keep trying and less time between retries.  Right now it’s hard to trend, but it seems like it will retry after about 5 mins, and then timeout.
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Expert Comment

by:wyliecoyoteuk
ID: 39697047
What make/model of printer?
Are you using raw or lpr prinitng?
IPP may be a better option if the printer supports it.
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Author Comment

by:sidwelle
ID: 39698519
Printing is RAW, printer is an application that listens on a port and captures print jobs printed in text.
This issue is with network traffic, I need the spooler in the user’s PC to retry more often, not just fail.
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Author Comment

by:sidwelle
ID: 39702267
Can anyone tell me how to configure the key:
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Services\Spooler\performance.failureactions

I am hoping this hold the behavior of the spooler ?
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Expert Comment

by:wyliecoyoteuk
ID: 39702783
Might have saved some time if you had mentioned that it isn't a physical printer, that changes the scenario completely.
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Author Comment

by:sidwelle
ID: 39706364
Why would that change anything, the problem is with the printing spooler on the PC.  I am trying to figure out how to chg the params.
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Expert Comment

by:wyliecoyoteuk
ID: 39706871
Because a physical printer can have extra parameters changed to make connections more reliable, and the application listening may have similar options, but they will need to be adjusted differently.
The problem is not just with the spooler, but the lack of bandwidth, and that will need changes at both ends.
The spooler is probably giving up after a partial transfer. Changing retry timing  will probably not cure that.
Does the VPN setup have any QOS settings?
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Author Comment

by:sidwelle
ID: 39709868
If it does, I can not get at Network equipment.

I am just looking for a way to adjust the params on the print spooler.
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Author Comment

by:sidwelle
ID: 39715228
We may not agree on the solution, but if you know how to configure the timeout and/or Error behavior of the print spooler of the workstations and could share that with me,  I would greatly appreciate it.
Thanks
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Accepted Solution

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wyliecoyoteuk earned 500 total points
ID: 39715404
Sorry, not being obtuse.
I have no knowledge of how to do that in windows,.
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