Organizations that are still using 32-bit printer drivers on server 2012 alongside 64-bit printer drivers are all too aware that conflicts can arise when using these different versions in the same environment. If you don't follow stringent print management practices, there's a strong likelihood that a 32-bit printer driver will be accidentally accessed by a 64-bit workstation or your print server(s) will crash when handling a mix of print jobs via different drivers.
Therefore, ensuring high printing availability and preventing printer driver conflicts in mixed 32- and 64-bit printing environments is often a detail-oriented and time-consuming process. And even though your best efforts won't eliminate every single conflict between printer drivers, there are a few additional precautionary and proactive steps you can take to avoid problems.
Reduce the number of printer drivers to the bare minimum: The fewer printer drivers you have, the less potential there is for conflicts to arise between 32-bit printer drivers on server 2012 and any 64-bit drivers you might have. Begin by deleting printer drivers that are no longer in use. Then see if you can consolidate different versions of the same drivers. Universal printer drivers can take the place of multiple individual drivers, too, so if you have the ability to switch to a universal driver without losing functionality, it might be wise to do so. While you're in the process of cleaning up, be sure that you don't delete any essential 32-bit printer driver versions or vice versa!
Isolate printer drivers: Starting with server 2008 R2, Microsoft allowed admins the option to isolate printer drivers. This means that in server 2012 each driver can run in its own process rather than in the same process as the print spooler. Theoretically, this prevents crashes because, when trouble strikes, only that individual process is affected rather than the entire print spooler. By isolating individual 32-bit printer drivers on server 2012, each of those drivers can be kept separate from their 64-bit counterparts when in use.
Don't allow users to install their own drivers: Although restrictive, this precaution can help prevent user error from causing conflicts between printer drivers. Because the differences between 32- and 64-bit printer drivers can appear negligible to end users, especially if your naming conventions don't make things clear, limiting users' options can act as a safeguard.
Maintain separate print servers: This is a last resort, but sometimes it's best to have a dedicated 32-bit print server and a dedicated 64-bit print server. Of course, this won't prevent all driver conflicts (print servers have a knack for getting things muddled), but it will help "quarantine" the two different environments more than simply choosing driver isolation. Keep in mind that this will involve added costs of purchase, maintenance and operation, but that might be worth the price of print availability.
Alternatively, you can save yourself a lot of headache and your organization a lot of money by implementing PrinterLogic's enterprise print management solution. PrinterLogic eliminates your having to worry about mixing 64- and 32-bit printer drivers on server 2012 because it eliminates print servers altogether while enhancing printing reliability and functionality.
Not only that, PrinterLogic introduces unparalleled print management to your print environment, making it easier than ever to confidently assign 32- and 64-bit printer drivers to the correct users or workstations. With PrinterLogic, you can even allow end users to identify and safely install their own printers without having to worry about user error creating driver issues. And because of its direct IP printing backbone, PrinterLogic is a robust solution to the printer driver conflicts that typically bring print spoolers—and printing availability—to a crashing halt.
Before becoming PrinterLogic's Technical Marketing Engineer, I spent more than two years as a Systems Engineer and Sales Engineer working side by side with IT professionals to eliminate print servers from their environment. I have a Bachelors in Information Technology and love learning about all of the new and innovating solutions that continue to revolutionize the IT industry.