Printer pooling allows to unite several physical printers connected to one print server into a single logical printer. From the client point of view, a printer pool looks like one network printer. A print job being in a print queue on such logical printer will be printed on any free printer in a pool. Using printer pooling, you can distribute the workload between printers, increase availability and scalability of a network printing system. If the capacity of printing units is not enough, an administrator can easily add additional units to the pool without extra configuration of the clients.
It is recommended to use printer pooling in the networks where users print a lot of documents. With printer pooling, a user doesn’t have to look for a free device to print the documents, thus the queue time reduces.
Printer pooling is created on a print server by specifying several ports for one printer. Each port points to one physical printer.
The requirements to create a printer pool on Windows Print Server:
- All printers in a pool have to be identical (or at least work using the same print driver).
- Since a user doesn’t know, on which printer his documents have been printed, it’s better to physically locate all printers in one place.
We’ll show how to organize a print server on Windows Server 2012 R2 and unite several printers into a single printer pool.
First of all, you have to install Print and Document Services role on a server using Server Manager console.
Install only Print Server service in this role.
The same can be done in Powershell
After the role installation is over, open Print Management console and add a new printer (Add Printer…).
In the Printer Installation Wizard, check that a network printer is being installed (Add a TCP/IP or Web Services Printer by IP address or hostname).
Then select that a TCP/IP printer (TCP/IP Device) is being installed and specify its IP address. Uncheck Auto detect the printer driver to use.
In the next window select Generic Network Card as a device type.
Then select a suitable driver.
Then you have to specify a system name and a share name of your printer.
When you are done, a new printer appears in the Print Management console.
If necessary, you can enable Branch Office Direct Printing in the properties of the network printer.
In the Sharing tab of the printer properties, check that it has to be published in Active Directory (List in the directory)
Add a new port for the next network printer in the Ports tab by selecting Add port option in the menu.
Specify the type of the new port as Standard TCP/IP Port
And the IP address of the second printer.
After creating a new port, open the properties of the printer created earlier again.
In the Ports tab, check Enable printer pooling and then check the TCP/IP port created in a previous step in the list of available ports.
We are done, we have created a printer pool containing two printers. Now you only have to connect clients to our logical printer “OSI Finance Pinter”, and if a print job is sent, it will be printed on one of the two printers.
Let’s explain the logic of printer pool operation. It works as follows: the job received from a client is printed on the first free printer in the pool. If any printer is unavailable (busy with a huge print job, unplugged, or jammed with paper), the job is sent to the next printer in the pool. We have to note that the documents are sent to the physical devices in the order they have been added to the pool. So if the performance of the printers differs, it’s better to add the “quickest” printer first.