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Fix: Printer Not Showing in Remote Desktop Session

Posted by Chris Summerhays on November 17th, 2017

Remote desktop printing can often feel like it's more trouble than it's worth. Make no mistake: There are a lot of benefits to remote desktop protocol (RDP) environments. A leaner infrastructure, more flexibility and centralized management, to name just a few. At the same time, the advantages of RDP environments can also pose serious problems for RDP printing.

The weak points of RDP printing
Because RDP relies heavily on the WAN connection, particularly in distributed environments, that makes the WAN a potential point of failure. If the WAN experiences bottlenecking on account of heavy network traffic or goes down completely, RDP performance is hindered or interrupted, resulting in unwanted and unexpected downtime. RDP printing is no different because it's subject to the same vulnerabilities. As a matter of fact, RDP printing is a major cause of WAN bottlenecking.

But it isn't just the WAN connection that causes trouble in remote environments. RDP printing often involves printer redirection as the preferred deployment method, and the instances of remote desktop printer redirection not working as it should are legion. One of the most common problems is printers not appearing in the session.

The basics of RDP printer redirection in Server 2012
To properly troubleshoot this issue, it's important to understand how RDP printer redirection works in Server 2012 to begin identifying reasons why the printer might not be appearing. In a nutshell, the server first receives a list of local printers that are installed on the remote client. Next, the server creates the print queue within the remote session. When the end user goes to print from the remote client, the server is queried for accompanying printer drivers. All being well, the printer is then redirected.

As you can see, this is a chain of events that depends on a series of successful queries and responses. Any failure at any point along that chain can result in remote desktop printer redirection not working and, among many other errors, the printer not showing.

There are three immediate steps you can then take to solve this kind of RDP printer redirection problem in Server 2012:

  1. Ensure that local printers are enabled. Invoke the Remote Desktop Connection screen, look under the "Local devices and resources" section and make sure that the "Printers" option is enabled.
  2. Confirm that the Server 2012 settings are correct. Go to Server Manager > Remote Desktop Services > Collections > Tasks > "Edit properties." Then go to the "Client settings" tab. For printer redirection, the "Windows printer" option should be selected.
  3. Install the drivers on the server. In many cases, the drivers haven't been installed properly. This could be due to a faulty deployment or a simple admin oversight.

If all that fails, double-check user and system permissions on c:\windows\system32\spool and grant access to both groups.

How PrinterLogic helps with RDP printer redirection in Server 2012
By using a unique centrally managed direct IP printing paradigm, PrinterLogic is able to eliminate many of the variables that are responsible for remote desktop printer redirection not working—including those elusive printers that don't appear in a session.

In addition to streamlining and simplifying driver management (which avoids those problematic driver installs), PrinterLogic enables you to deploy printers accurately and dynamically without using GPOs or scripts (which can cause a whole host of deployment hassles). It integrates seamlessly with any remote desktop environment, including Citrix and VMware, and can help your organization to eliminate print servers completely and minimize infrastructure even further. It's the complete, cost-effective RDP printing solution that will transform how you think about enterprise printing in general.

Chris Summerhays
Chris Summerhays
Before becoming PrinterLogic's Technical Product Manager, Chris spent more than four years as a Technical Product Engineer, Systems Engineer, and Sales Engineer—working side by side with IT professionals to eliminate print servers from their environment. He has a B.S. degree in Information Technology and loves learning about all of the new and innovating solutions that continue to revolutionize the IT industry.

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