Posted by Devin Anderson
Take a moment to imagine a world without printer drivers. Where client devices and printers are able to interface directly. Where printer driver conflicts don’t exist. Where routine printer installations can take place with absolute reliability—even (and especially) when they’re initiated directly by the end user.
For admins who haven’t yet discovered PrinterLogic’s next-generation print management solution, that’s a pleasant thought exercise but it’s a far cry from reality. There are a number of things that can go wrong during printer installation, and one of the worst offenders is printer driver conflicts. These can be a product of:
- Different versions of the same driver (e.g., to serve different client OS versions)
- Multiple printer drivers for similar printer models from the same manufacturer (e.g., ScanPrint 2050 and InkPrint 2050)
- 32-bit and 64-bit driver versions for the same printer
- Universal drivers existing alongside model-specific drivers
When these printer driver conflicts are present in the print environment, there’s an increased likelihood that printer installations will be negatively affected—regardless of whether those installations are user-initiated or automated through group policy. It could come down to the user selecting the wrong driver, the universal driver being pushed out to the wrong users, or even a perfectly compatible driver version butting heads with a different version of the same driver when the first print job from the newly installed printer hits the spooler.
All of these examples are pretty much guaranteed to mean that one or more users will be unable to print. In “good” cases, downtime is isolated to a single client machine. In the worst cases, an entire department or organization experiences print downtime because of a crashed print spooler or print server.
One step you can take to fix printer driver conflicts is printer driver isolation, which was first implemented in Windows Server 2008 R2. Using this method, printer drivers no longer run in the same process as the print spooler. So when a driver crashes, printer driver isolation can help prevent the driver from taking down the entire spooler. Note that this doesn’t completely eliminate printer driver conﬂicts, just the damage they can do.
Another preliminary step is to prune your driver repository. Get rid of outdated printer drivers that are no longer in use. Replace model-specific drivers with a single universal printer driver. Consolidate printers to cut down on driver variety. Provided your organization is ready, you might even want to consider shedding the last vestiges of your 32-bit environment in order to drop 32-bit drivers altogether.
But what if you need all those driver versions? What if you don’t want to sacrifice the functionality of model-specific driver with a universal one? What if you’re not ready to spend the money to migrate to an all-64-bit infrastructure? Isn’t there an easier fix for printer driver conflicts?
We’re not yet in a driverless world, but PrinterLogic can make it feel like you are. Our on-premises enterprise print management solution—now also available as a software-as-a-service (SaaS) solution called PrinterCloud—prevents printer driver conflicts through a more sensible, more streamlined and more powerful approach to print management.
The first way in which PrinterLogic sidesteps printer driver conflicts is through dynamic, reliable deployments. These don’t require group policy objects (GPOs) or scripts, yet our solution seamlessly integrates with Active Directory (AD), so you can accurately and automatically deliver the right printers and drivers to any user, group, IP address and so forth. Another way is through our acclaimed self-service installation portal, which enables users to safely identify and install nearby printers with a single click. A third—but by no means final—way is our centralized and intuitive driver management. Using PrinterLogic’s web-based console, you can administer drivers, profiles, printers and the vast range of available settings conveniently and easily across the entire print environment. PrinterLogic doesn’t just make it easier to fix the printer driver conflicts that cause printer installation woes, it is the fix for printer driver conflicts.