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Problems with VMware Printer Redirection

Posted by Chris Summerhays on February 19th, 2018

Whether you've just migrated to a new VMware environment or you've been working with this popular VDI solution for a long time, chances are that you've struggled with VMware printer redirection at one time or another. Printer redirection is a common method of provisioning printers in VMware environments, but it's also well known for causing problems with VMware printing that are hard to troubleshoot.

What is it about printer redirection that's so prone to error? It has to do with the basic topology of server-based computing. Instead of a local client simply recognizing a connected printer and printing to it, as generally happens in conventional setups, the device recognition and VMware printing process adds several complex steps. These steps are all but invisible to the end user, which can lead to additional confusion and frustration when their remote clients encounter printing issues:

  1. Each time a user initiates a remote session, the server determines which printers are already installed on the remote client. These can be USB-connected printers or network printers.
  2. A dedicated virtual print queue is created in the remote session.
  3. During the VMware Horizon printing process, the job is sent across the WAN from the remote client to the server, where it enters this virtual print queue.
  4. The job then travels back across the WAN to the client as compressed Enhanced Metafile (EMF) data.
  5. The printer driver on the client device renders the EMF data for the desired printing device.
  6. Finally, the rendered data is sent from the client device to the locally attached or network printer.

Should any one of those six contingent steps fail to execute properly, your end users are bound to experience problems with VMware printing. The problems themselves can take a number of forms, including application and driver crashes, corrupted or missing print jobs, inaccessible or vanishing printers, and slow printing.

Of these, one of the most widespread is slow printing, which is usually a direct result of the multiple WAN hops that every print job is forced to make. As the WAN connection behaves like a bottleneck in any network, and in VDI environments there is far more data being pushed through the WAN than in comparably sized conventional environments, the likelihood increases that print data traffic speeds will suffer. And, as anyone who's fielded support calls will attest, a one-minute printing delay can feel like ten to an end user.

Add that to the fact that VMware Horizon printing only supports printer redirection with a limited number of operating systems, and the shortcomings of this provisioning method really start to show.

PrinterLogic's next-generation print management solution integrates seamlessly with challenging VDI environments like VMware to address the fundamental problems with VMware printing. It's able to achieve what other self-styled VMware printing solutions can't through its industry-leading combination of direct IP printing and centralized management, which simplifies not only the multi-step VMware printing process but also print management tasks like deployments and driver updates.

For example, PrinterLogic enables you to eliminate GPOs and scripts completely from the printer deployment process. Yet you can still deliver printers to specific users automatically and dynamically using Active Directory (AD) criteria including group, container, organizational unit (OU) as well as IP address ranges and endpoint hostnames. Setting up these deployments is incredibly easy in PrinterLogic's intuitive centralized management console.

On the frontend of VMware Horizon printing, PrinterLogic's direct IP approach all but eliminates reliance on the WAN. Users print straight to their desired printer without first having the print job routed via the offsite server. That speeds up routine VMware printing and ensures print capabilities continue to be available when the WAN connection experiences an interruption.

By enhancing both printing and print management in VMware with the power and ease of a native solution, PrinterLogic can fix the problems with VMware printing that are a constant source of frustration for users and admins—quickly, seamlessly and cost-effectively.

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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