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Printer Deployment: GPO vs. Startup Scripts

**Originally published on June 21, 2018**

There are an unlimited amount of reasons printer deployments can fail. You couldn’t find the appropriate driver. Point and print restrictions weren’t configured correctly. Or you recently added a new user to Group Policy only to discover printers aren’t showing up. 

Thanks, PrintNightmare.

These issues leave admins wondering, ”What’s the best way to deploy printers?” Is it GPOs, scripts, or neither?

Let’s explore how GPO printer deployments work, compare that with using startup scripts, and then discuss how you can actually deploy printers without using them ever again.

Deploying Printers via GPOs

Group Policy Objects (GPOs) are typically managed by domain controllers on a network. They define actions or settings that individual computers apply during login. Administrators can build out these policies with minimal effort, but there are tradeoffs.

GPOs are easy to set up but aren’t always dependable. They have to replicate all existing domain controllers before workstations can enforce the new policies. Replication can be inconsistent—especially when migrating from an old server OS to a new one. 

What’s more, workstations have to query their Active Directory server and execute the policy before a GPO deployment is complete. If there’s a mixture of desktop OS versions, replication consistency goes down.

Serious GPO printer deployments usually need multiple GPOs to target the right users, which can be hard to manage down the road. The bigger an organization, the more likely (and often) issues surface. And with issues you can expect your users to make multiple calls to the helpdesk when they can’t access the right printer, costing you more money and time.

Deploying Printers via Scripts

An alternative to creating GPOs is using startup scripts. These can be paid for or developed by in-house IT staff. Talented scriptwriters can create scripts to deploy printers to computers in certain IP address ranges, to Active Directory users, etc. While better than GPOs, scripts demand more technical competence, reduce logon performance, and increase operational overhead. 

Scripting is also a process that requires proper documentation to ensure replacement IT staff can configure deployments. You don’t want to be stuck figuring out how the last person set scripts for printer auto-deployments. And you don’t want new hires to have to start from scratch. 

That wouldn’t be a great first week on the job.

Never Touch GPOs or Scripts Again

Let’s face it. Deploying printers via scripts and GPOs isn’t the most efficient way to get things done. After PrintNightmare, every admin was digging for the best way to deploy printers without sacrificing security. 

PrinterLogic’s centralized direct IP print management platform mitigates the cost, risk, and headaches of using GPOs or other unconventional printer deployment methods. Our platform’s centralized management interface can deploy printers based on:

  • Active Directory User, Computer, Group, Container, OU
  • IP address range of computers (great for traveling users)
  • Hostname (of computers)
  • MAC address (of computers)
  • Advanced Group (combination of the above criteria)


Figure 1: The PrinterLogic SaaS deployment menu offers several targeting options for printer delivery.

So, why is this better than GPOs, and easier than scripts?

It’s more dependable and managed by a small desktop application designed from the ground up for reliable, low-overhead communication.

It’s easier than scripts because deployments are handled within our intuitive Admin Console. From there, you can manage direct IP-connected printers without print servers.

Other benefits of eliminating print servers include:

  • Cloud-native centralized management
  • No single point of failure
  • Improved security
  • Lower infrastructure costs
  • Print job auditing and tracking
  • Easier driver management
  • Address printing issues faster

The time and labor costs associated with print server maintenance and inconsistent printer deployments become a thing of the past. Customers rave about the time they saved using PrinterLogic to auto-deploy printers and eliminate their print servers. 

Helion Automotive Industries leveraged PrinterLogic’s automated deployment feature to deliver printers to users, saving them countless hours without resorting to GPOs or scripts.

Anytime anybody’s added to that AD group, they just log in and PrinterLogic gets them all the printers for their department. You can set defaults if you want to, too, so it’s definitely saved us a lot of time on day-to-day issues.

-Jeff Kingsmore, System Support Manager, Helion

Lufthansa Technik AG reduced IT overhead and migrated 12,500 employees away from print servers without them even noticing. 

It was truly a seamless process. Our employees don’t even know that this huge migration project even took place, and that’s exactly how it should be.

-Manfred Lapp, Project Manager, Lufthansa Technik AG

Want to see printer deployments without GPOs and scripts in action? 

Request a free 30-day trial here.