Group policy can be a useful, even essential tool for administrators when managing their IT environment. At the same time, group policy can be a colossal headache for those same admins when it results in unexpected behaviors or the sets of configurations called group policy objects (GPOs) seem to be applied arbitrarily. In print management specifically, admins will often encounter situations where a printer is not mapping through group policy, leaving users unable to print.
Aside from the basic loss of print availability and productivity for the end user, these situations can have profound knock-on effects. Frustrated by something that seems like it should be straightforward, the user will typically end up calling the service desk for help. The support rep will then have to take time to isolate the print mapping problem.
But because group policy relies on strict rights management, support staff are rarely authorized to make the necessary group policy changes, thereby complicating the troubleshooting process. As a result, the ticket for the user's GPO printer mapping issue is escalated to the admin tier, which means the problem now has to be reviewed by a new set of eyes. Here, either an admin deals with it immediately, taking his or her attention away from more important responsibilities, or the user is forced to wait, unable to print in the meantime.
That's how simple GPO printer mapping problems add up to wasted resources over the long term. And it illustrates why solving these problems would remove a major source of frustration for admins and end users alike. Although printers not mapping correctly can be caused by any number of improper configurations or overlooked settings, here are some general solutions.
- Know your rights: For security reasons, you can specify elevated rights as a precondition for installing printers and drivers. However, in many situations, this requirement causes driver installations and print mapping to fail. Instead configure your GPO printer mapping to allow users to install printers without admin rights.
- Avoid conflict: Given the hierarchical nature of group policy, it's not uncommon for GPOs to override or conflict with one another. Though it might take some time, review your resultant set of policy (RSoP) for all clients, not just the ones experiencing print mapping issues, to ensure that your GPOs are complementary and not contradictory.
- Preferential treatment: Group policy preferences (GPPs) offer more flexibility—more like a should than a must. But sometimes this flexibility can be exactly what causes print mapping to fail. If using GPPs, try experimenting with a more rigid set of conditions as well as your method of preference execution (e.g., "update" or "replace" instead of "create").
- Read from the script: Rather than using group policy for your print mapping, you might have more success with a custom-coded network printer mapping script. These run during the logon process and can be deployed on a per-user basis, giving you more control over the printer mapping process.
Bear in mind that each of these practices comes with a caveat or two. For example, removing the elevated rights requirement for the sake of convenience could have security implications. And a network printer mapping script can prolong logon times considerably.
Eliminate group policy print mapping entirely with PrinterLogic
PrinterLogic is a next-generation print management solution that leverages direct IP printing and centralized management to ensure high print availability, dynamic printer deployment and effortless printer management throughout your organization. Its native deployment capabilities eliminate the need for GPO printer mapping or custom network printer mapping scripts, neatly avoiding the drawbacks of both. Yet it integrates seamlessly with Active Directory (AD), so you can automatically get printers to specific users on the basis of the same AD criteria you would be using for group policy.
By design, the installation possibilities don't stop there. PrinterLogic empowers your end users with a self-service installation portal, giving them a consistent, intuitive way to identify and install nearby printers—even if they're in a new and unfamiliar location—with a single click. They no longer have to wrestle with complex manual print mapping processes or be at the mercy of GPO printer mapping to print precisely when and where they need to. That reliability and ease of use likewise cuts down on service desk calls and support tickets.
PrinterLogic integrates quickly and seamlessly with any environment and can replace your print servers altogether—eliminating not only your current and future GPO printer mapping issues but your costly print infrastructure as well.
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.