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Print Management Guide - Managing Printing Traffic



With a computer running a member of the Windows Server family, you can use several methods to improve the efficiency of your printing operations and manage your printing traffic:

Scheduling alternate printing times
One way to maximize the use of printers is to schedule alternate printing times for long documents or certain types of documents. For example, if printer traffic is heavy during the day, you can postpone printing of long documents by routing them to a printer that prints only during off-hours. The print spooler continues to accept documents, but it does not send them to the destination printer until the designated start time.

Instead of dedicating an actual print device for only off-hour printing, which is not an efficient use of resources, you can set different logical printers for the same print device and configure each with different available times. One printer might be available from 6:00 PM to 6:00 AM, while the other is available 24 hours a day. You can then tell users to send long documents to the printer available only during off-hours, and all other documents to the printer available all the time.

To schedule alternate printing times

  1. Open Printers and Faxes.

  2. Right-click the printer you want to set, and then click Properties.

  3. Click the Advanced tab, and then click Available from.

  4. To set the time period that the printer will be available, do one of the following:

    • Click the up or down arrows.

    • Or, type a start and end time, such as 6:00 PM To 6:00 AM.



  • To open Printers and Faxes, click Start, and then click Printers and Faxes.

  • By default, printers are set to be always available.

  • For more information on using different printing times for a printer, see Related Topics.
Assigning different priority levels
You can expedite documents that need to be printed immediately. Documents sent by users with high priority levels can bypass a queue of lower priority documents waiting to be printed. If two logical printers are associated with the same printer, the Windows Server family operating system routes documents with the highest priority level to the printer first.

To take advantage of this print priority system, create multiple logical printers for the same printer. Assign each a different priority level, and then create a group of users that corresponds to each printer. For example, users in Group1 might have access rights to a priority 1 printer, users in Group2 might have access rights to a printer with priority 2, and so on.

To set different print priority to different groups

  1. Open Printers and Faxes.

  2. Right-click the printer you want to set, click Properties, and then click the Advanced tab.

  3. In Priority, click the up or down arrows, and then click OK.

    Or, type a priority level, where 1 is the lowest level and 99 is the highest, and then click OK.

  4. Click Add Printer to add a second logical printer for the same physical printer. For instructions, see Related Topics.

  5. Click the Advanced tab.

  6. In Priority, set a priority higher than that of the first logical printer.

  7. Instruct the regular group of users to use the first logical printer name and the group with higher priority to use the second logical printer name. Set the appropriate permissions for the different groups.



  • To open Printers and Faxes, click Start, and then click Printers and Faxes.

  • You gain no benefits just from setting a priority to a printer. You need to set at least two different logical printers for the same physical printer to take advantage of this option.

Setting print spooler options

Although you can control whether to use spooling or not, you'll typically want to spool documents you send to printing. Spooling documents expedites the printing process, and allows the application that sent the document to release control back to the user much faster. All the spooling options are set through the Advanced tab of the printer's property page. The following table shows other options you can set to affect how the spooler operates.


Option Description
Spool print documents so program finishes printing faster Either select this option or the Print directly to the printer option. If you choose this option, the documents spool. This option has two related options that you must choose between (see the next two options).
Start printing after last page is spooled The printer does not print a document until it is completely spooled. This is useful for documents that are assigned a low priority. Documents that are assigned a higher priority start printing immediately.
Start printing immediately The printer starts printing a document before it is completely spooled, which means it is printed sooner, and the application you are printing from releases control back to you faster.
Print directly to the printer The document does not spool, which decreases printing time. Select this option only for a nonshared printer. This might be useful for other programs that use their own spooling process.
Hold mismatched documents Documents that do not match the configuration of the printer are not printed. This prevents errors resulting from documents that use paper sizes different from letter size.
Print spooled documents first A spooled document is printed before a partially spooled document.
Keep documents after they are printed Documents remain in the print spooler after they are printed, and can be quickly resubmitted for printing. You must carefully watch for disk space if you choose this option.
Enable advanced printing features When enabled, the document is rendered using metafile datatype (EMF) and advanced features such as Page Order, Booklet Printing, and Pages Per Sheet are available. If compatibility problems occur, try to disable this option.

Creating a printing pool

You can create a printing pool to automatically distribute print jobs to the next available printer. A printing pool is one logical printer connected to multiple printers through multiple ports of the print server. The printer that is idle receives the next document sent to the logical printer. This is useful in a network with a high volume of printing because it decreases the time users wait for their documents. A printing pool also simplifies administration because multiple printers can be managed from the same logical printer on a server.

With a printing pool created, the user prints a document without having to find out which printer is available. The logical printer checks for an available port and sends documents to ports in the order that they are added. Adding the port connected to the fastest printer first ensures that documents are sent to the printer that can print the fastest before they are routed to slower printers in the printing pool.

Before setting a printing pool, consider the following:

  • All printers in a pool must use the same driver.

  • Because users will not know which printer in the pool prints a given document, make sure all printers in the pool are located in the same place.
To set up a printer to print to multiple devices
  1. Open Printers and Faxes.

  2. Right-click the printer you are using, and then click Properties.

  3. On the Ports tab, select the Enable printer pooling check box.

  4. Click each port where the printers you want to pool are connected.



  • To open Printers and Faxes, click Start, and then click Printers and Faxes.

  • With printer pooling, the printers must be the same type of printer using the same printer driver.

  • The previous procedure assumes the printers you want to pool are already in the Printers and Faxes folder.

Setting the location of the spool folder

By default the spool folder is located at systemroot\System32\Spool\Printers. However, this drive also holds the Windows system files. Because these files are frequently accessed by the operating system, performance of both Windows and the printing functions might be slowed.

If your print server serves only one or two printers with low traffic volumes, the default location of the spool folder is sufficient. However, for high-volume printing requirements, to support large numbers of printers, or to support large print jobs, you should relocate the spool folder. For best results, move the spool folder to a drive that has its own controller, which reduces printing's impact on the rest of the operating system.

To change the spool folder location

  1. Open Printers and Faxes.

  2. On the File menu, click Server Properties, and then click the Advanced tab.

  3. In the Spool folder window, enter the path and the name of the new default spool folder for this print server, and then click Apply or OK.

  4. Stop and restart the spooler service, or reboot the server.



  • To open Printers and Faxes, click Start, and then click Printers and Faxes.

  • If the server functions as the print server for a large number of printers or for print jobs that are typically very long, you should consider moving the spool folder to another location.

  • The spool folder might require a large amount of disk space to spool all the jobs.

  • The spool folder should not be located at the root directory (generally C:\).

  • If the new folder does not exist, this procedure creates it.

Monitoring print queue performance

You can monitor the performance and operation of printers across the network using System Monitor. Counters can be set up for a variety of performance criteria such as Bytes Printed/sec, Job Errors, and Total Pages Printed.

When you select Print Queue in the Performance object text box, you are provided with a list of all available performance counters for that object. The one you will probably use most is the Jobs counter, which is selected by default.

Other counters help you determine the current load on the print server or provide you with statistics and accumulative printing performance since the last time the system was started.

In System Monitor, click the plus sign (+) to add counters, and then click Explain to see an explanation of the counter.

To monitor print queue performance

  1. Open Performance.

  2. Click the plus sign (+) on the Performance toolbar.

  3. From the Select counters from computer list box, click the print server computer.

  4. From the Performance object list box, click Print Queue.

  5. Click the counters you want to monitor.



  • To open Performance, click Start, click Control Panel, double-click Administrative Tools, and then double-click Performance.

  • To view a detailed explanation of a counter, select it, and then click Explain.

  • You can also add System Monitor to any new Microsoft Management Console (MMC).