Dealing with print servers is usually the last thing on an IT administrator's mind. They can be a pain to deal with, and even more of a pain when its time to migrate to a new version of Windows. Unfortunately it is a necessary task when moving towards a newer IT environment. Upgrading from a print server that is currently on Windows Server 2008 is usually easier than if you are migrating from a server currently running Windows Server 2003. This is because of the lack of 64-bit driver support from most 2003 server setups.
Microsoft has tried to make migrating printers from 2003 and 2008 to 2012 as easy as possible using their migration tools. However, if you are migrating from a 2003 server that does not have 64-bit drivers, you will need to add all of the 64-bit editions of the drivers currently on the 2003 print server to your new print server in order to have the migration complete successfully. This is done by manually adding each of the 64-bit drivers before you can start the migration. That is where the pain starts. For example, if you have 200 printers on your 2003 print server, you would need to add the 64-bit driver of all 200 of those printers to your new 2012 server before you can complete the migration successfully.
Once you have the 64-bit drivers added to the print server you would be able to run an export on the server and it will export the queues, the drivers, the print objects and security settings. There is a lot of dependency on the drivers during the import and the export process, and depending on the drivers you are using you could run into a variety problems. Because of this it is usually suggested to use the most up-to-date drivers possible and to use universal drivers when possible as well.
After the export from original server has completed, next comes the import. If all of the steps before the import were correctly completed you could still run into problems with importing. Unfortunately there is no way to know until you start the import if it will have problems with a specific driver or printer object or queue.
The last step usually when migrating the printers from one server to another would be in having the users connect to the new server. The suggested method is to rename the old and the new servers to essentially swap names. This is because on the workstations the printers are normally connected by specifying the name of the server then the name of the printer (\\server\printer). So if you change the name of the new 2012 server to the same as the original 2003 server and make sure that the 2003 is no longer on the domain with the same name. It should connect the printers on the workstations to the new server.
If this all sounds overly complicated, that's because it is. And if you're wishing there was a simpler way—a way to automate and make all of these steps much easier—there is. Check out PrinterLogic at www.printerlogic.com and sign up for a free trial, and we'd be happy to show you how we can help you eliminate print servers altogether, or make the migration of your print servers simple and seamless.
Systems Engineer. I love innovative technology and have been engaged in this industry for over 5 years.