When deploying printers, accuracy is key. If an end user winds up with the wrong printer, too many printers or even no printer, you're looking at printing errors, wasted consumables, unnecessary frustration and helpdesk calls. That's why one of the top responsibilities of any print management team is getting the right printers to the right users at the right time. Many organizations use group policy objects—or, more specifically, GPO printer deployments—to that end.
GPOs aren't perfect, though. Their chains of contingencies leave plenty of room for error and not enough for flexibility. In fluid work environments, for example, end users who move from workstation to workstation or building to building can experience problems with their GPO printer not showing up because the policies that are in place don't account for the users' movements.
Although you can set up increasingly complex assignments to continue to deploy printers using group policy, this naturally increases the complexity of print management. And it also becomes downright impractical in modern IT environments that pride themselves on mobility and take a much more dynamic, ad hoc approach to where users are located.
To achieve a greater degree of customization, some print management admins turn to scripts. But that's a subject for another blog post. For now, let's focus on three broad hurdles you face when trying to deploy a printer via group policy and what you can do about them.
Driver problems: So many printing issues can actually be traced back to driver issues. To ensure that a GPO printer deployment goes smoothly, be sure to have the proper driver (and that includes distinguishing between 32- and 64-bit versions) installed on the print server, the client machine, and any of the other necessary network locations for your environment. Without the proper driver installed, your end users will certainly be unable to print, and in some cases, it could result in the GPO printer not showing up at all.
Policy conflicts: As I mentioned above, group policy's rights requirements and difficult defaults can create conflicts or even end up delivering more printers to a user than he or she actually needs at any one time. It might sometimes seem like a good idea to err on the side of overkill, but that also has the potential to sow confusion, especially when printers have confusing names. The best thing is to review your policies with a fine-toothed comb and make sure that, among other things, GPOs are linked to the right OU.
Head-scratchers: Occasionally (or more often than that), you'll run into a bug where the GPO printer connection is not visible even though your Point-and-Print settings are correct, your drivers all check out, your GPO permissions are in order, security filters are correct, and you've basically double-checked every possible variable for error. This problem might lie outside the realm of group policy and instead be a more fundamental issue with your server or your clients. If you're using older systems, it could be time to upgrade.
Deploy printers without group policy
Knowing full well how vital accurate printer deployments are to end-user satisfaction and productivity, PrinterLogic eliminates GPOs and all their headache from the deployment process. Our next-generation print management solution integrates seamlessly with Active Directory and features an intuitive web-based GUI, allowing you to deploy printers to users with total precision—but without having to account for rights management and obscure settings.
PrinterLogic puts an end to hard-to-troubleshoot deployment issues like a GPO printer connection not being visible because it delivers printers to users automatically and dynamically on the basis of granular AD criteria such as user, computer, container or even IP addresses and hardware identifiers. With its unparalleled centralized management, PrinterLogic can also ensure that driver incompatibilities and conflicts don't cause individual deployments to fail.
GPO printer deployment is inefficient at the best of times and an infuriating struggle at the worst. Implementing PrinterLogic means you can enjoy pinpoint-accurate printer deployments without ever having to deploy a printer using group policy again.
With more than 15 years of product marketing experience, Jordan has been been instrumental in helping IT software companies produce valuable software solutions and achieve growth. From IT desktop operations to infrastructure and security, Jordan has talked and written about sound IT best practices, amazing time and money saving products, and industry trends. At PrinterLogic, he leads the company's product marketing efforts and loves talking about how organizations of all sizes can eliminate the need for print servers.