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Branch office printing performance through terminal server

Posted on 2013-12-13
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Last Modified: 2013-12-23
My company has migrated to a Terminal Server based system (Server 2008 R2 64bit) to improve application response and performance over our WAN links.  Cable Internet with Site to site VPN.  The application performance increase for the branches is well liked, but the branch users do not like the increase in delay when printing, especially with PDFs.

All Branch users connect to the terminal server at my main office and their sessions map printers shared from a printer server also at the main office.  The printing then goes to the branches from the print server.
 
Is there a better configuration or way to handle branch printing in a terminal server environment?  If I shared the printers from separate print servers at the branches and either connected the users sessions to those, or locally installed the printers with printer redirection through RDP help?  I wouldn't expect much difference since the data still is going over the WAN links.

Any ideas or suggestions would be appreciated.
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Question by:remmett70
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Expert Comment

by:Davis McCarn
ID: 39718770
The trick is to avoid GDI printers altogether as they don't know how to print anything but rows of dots which can result in 20+ megabytes per page being sent to the printer.
Ensure that the printers are true PCL and it drops to kilobytes per page.
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by:joharder
joharder earned 150 total points
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To determine whether the print server is the issue, try mapping a few printers via direct IP instead.  There's a good chance that will address your issue.  If printing is still slow, that rules out your print server.

Take a look at your printer drivers.  In general, PCL5 drivers are best (but not always, e.g., HP 4250).  Use PCL6 secondarily.  Universal drivers are hit and miss, which is why I prefer native drivers.

Printers leave a lot of junk in the registry, both on the user side and in the user profile.  Delete any unnecessary printer mappings and drivers, but keep in mind that these entries often don't clean themselves the way you think they should.  You may need to resort to some registry cleanup.

But, before you go that route, try printing from a pristine, new workstation with a new test user account that has printers mapped via IP address.  That will enable you to rule out any junk in the user profile and/or workstation.
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by:remmett70
ID: 39722752
The print server is not the issue.  Print speed is fine at the main office, it only becomes an issue when printing across the WAN to the branches.
 
I will install a printer to IP on the Terminal server and see if it makes anything better.  And look into the driver type.
 
I suspect the speed is just something we are going to have to live with at the branches.
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by:Davis McCarn
ID: 39722891
What is(are) the make(s) and model(s) of the printer(s)?
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by:remmett70
ID: 39725095
Printers are primarily HP LJ4050 and LJ4100.  With an assortment of a lj4650, P3015 and some Konica Bizhubs C35P, 20 and Copiers
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by:joharder
ID: 39725160
Please configure IP printing on the client device, which will effectively bypass the print server.
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by:remmett70
ID: 39725244
By client device, are you referring to the users PC or Terminal session?
 
Not sure I want 50-60 printers all installed on the terminal server.
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by:Davis McCarn
ID: 39725422
What printers are out at the branch offices?
And, what do you mean by slow? (30 seconds, 1 minute, 2, ......)
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by:remmett70
ID: 39726957
One branch is running all Bizhubs, the other branches have a variety of HPs.
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Davis McCarn earned 150 total points
ID: 39727291
Do this first at one of the BizHub sites.
Are there images in the print jobs?  If so, try having a branch user change their preferences to 300DPI to lower the data sent.  600DPI is 4 times more dots.
Are you using the PCL5 drivers?  PCL6 also sends a lot more data.
If you want the real scuttlebutt, have a user change a printer so it keeps a copy of the spool files.  Then you can look and see just how big the print jobs are.
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by:remmett70
ID: 39736874
Drivers don't seem to be making much noticeable difference.  It seems like as I suspected, this is just the performance they will need to live with.  The data needs to cross the WAN and that is limited.  The increased application performance outweighs the printer slowness.
 
Thanks for the ideas.
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