Terminal Server Printing Solution

Posted on 2014-09-15
Last Modified: 2014-09-30
Hi experts,

We currently have a software package which works via a terminal server setup with users logging into the server with RDP connections to use the software. This is working very well for us, except for one thing - printing.

Currently users are able to print by manually installing the exact printer driver as the client on the machine & then using the terminal server virtual ports to spool the document to the printer on the client's side. Long story short - this environment will not be suitable when hosting for multiple companies on this software package. I have user software called AADServer & owncloud to sync documents automatically to the client once someone prints, but this creates a pdf file which then is put between possibly hundreds of other print jobs.

We are looking for a solution to print, sync to the client automatically & then open the completed document in a pdf reader/print preview window, where the user can then print as per usual.

Does anybody know of software like this or does anybody have any expert tips to give if we were to write something custom to do what we want to achieve?
Question by:LIBRALEX
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LVL 23

Expert Comment

ID: 40323265
So let me get this straight. You have multiple customers with multiple printers and you want them to be able to print on the machine they have attached locally?? With RDP it should be possible to only connect the default printer someone has on his or her own device he or she attaches to the server.

This could be done by using policies on the server. The only issue you would have with this is that you would have a multitude of printers (let's say there are 100 different ones) and offcourse the DLL hell of shared printer drivers.

There are third party tools that can fix this for you. One of them being ThinPrint. It has a default universal driver that can map almost any printer device. Is this something you are looking for?? This way the print job is rendered on the server and send to the locally attached printer.

Author Comment

ID: 40324748
Hi Rhandels, thank you for the response.

You do have the right idea there & I will look into what ThinPrint provides. Have you had any experience using ThinPrint?
If I'm not mistaken, with ThinPrint, you will be able to print on the remote server & this will then print to your default printer automatically? Just one question - what if there are two or more printers attached to the client machine & not just the default?
LVL 23

Assisted Solution

rhandels earned 250 total points
ID: 40324809

Yes i have worked with ThinPrint and it does what it says that it does, deliver a universal print driver for almost every printer. Do keep in mind that ThinPrint is quite expensive, up to 2000 Euro (yes, i'm EU based) per server.

What i know is that Citrix does this a bit better. You can set up a policy there to either only connect the default printer of the local machine or all printers of the default machine. Do keep in mind that if a user has a mulititude of local printers they all need to be redirected to the server which might give you spooler service issues (high CPU usage). I would suggest only redirecting the default printer of the workstation connecting due to this issue.

Here is a link on how to configure this in Windows. I don't see the option to only attach the default printer or attach more printers in these policies though..
LVL 17

Accepted Solution

Spike99 earned 250 total points
ID: 40325972
Another option for you is a package called "ScrewDrivers" by Tricerat.  That package requires a small software piece that is installed on the client PC.  It works using either RDP connections or Citrix.  You only have to purchase a license for each terminal server, but it's not cheap.  The last time my company had to buy more licenses, I think it was about $1000 per terminal or citrix server.  They charge less if the organization is a non-profit.  Individuals can download the client at no cost.

The client-side software communicates with the software installed on the printer when the user logs on.  It compresses the print job into a PDF-type image that almost any printer will be able to understand, then sends it down to the client's printer to be printed. The beauty of that package is that it works even with host-based printers & inkjet printers that normally aren't supported in an RDP or Citrix environment.  Using Citrix, it will even work with Mac OS.

Here is the link to find more information about screwdrivers & their other printing packages:

Here is the link for client downloads:

Using ScrewDrivers we eliminated the need for print servers & eliminated the issues we had with the print spooler. Before we installed that on the TSs for a couple of our customers, who literally had 100s of different printers, the spooler kept crashing all the time & the spooler would also bog down server performance.  At times, the server would be brought to a standstill because someone tried printing a huge print job.   Stopping & re-starting the spooler usually resolved that, which told us we needed to do something about printing.

So, we tried ScrewDrivers:  it fixed all of those spooler issues which made our customers very, very happy.

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