by Allen Furmanski, Citrix
While many companies are “going green” by trying to reduce the number of printed documents, there is still a strong need to print reports, labels, and other materials. From the time that I joined Citrix back in mid-2007, I immediately took an interest in learning about printing in virtualized environments and various use-cases. Looking back, we’ve come a long way since those MetaFrame Presentation Server 3.0/4.0/4.5 days where vendor printer drivers could not only hang or crash the spooler, they could even crash the entire server (of course I am referring to version-2 kernel-mode drivers). Still though, printing continues to prove challenging as there are many factors to control including drivers, printer features, ports and connectivity, etc.
I’d like to provide everyone here with my top 5 printing best practices to assist with conquering the challenge:
1. Manage your print drivers!
Drivers are still the number one cause of printing issues. It’s important to keep printer drivers to a minimum on your server and desktop images and only install non-native, vendor ones when absolutely necessary (driver isolation can be used for these drivers as well). Additionally, we work closely with leading printing vendors to ensure their printers will work well in virtualized environments. Look over the Citrix Ready Marketplace to find printers that have been successfully tested for compatibility.
2. Take the time to understand printing policies.
There are several Citrix printing policies available that control various things such as how printer auto-creation behaves, print quality settings, driver preferences and more. When using policy templates based on use-case (a recommended approach) these settings are pre-configured for you. I still recommend taking a look over the individual setting descriptions to understand what is going on.
3. Keep the number of print queues to a minimum.
By default, all client-defined printers will be auto-created and available within user sessions. While this may work well in many scenarios, in environments with large numbers of printers and frequent connections and disconnections, this might cause a performance impact. Consider auto-creating only the client-defined default printer instead. Users can change their default printer selection on the fly within sessions as required (see my video on dynamic printer discovery).
4. Keep current with Citrix printing updates.
This might sound obvious but it is often overlooked. Printing updates are made available periodically and primarily focus on the Virtual Delivery Agent (VDA) and Universal Print Server (UPS) components. Check the Support Site for details.
5. Leverage Citrix Printing Tools.
An engineer needs to have the right tools to get the job done. The Citrix UPS Print Driver Certification Tool tests compatibility of printer drivers with the Universal Print Server. StressPrinters is a classic tool for testing printer drivers for general stability in multi-user environments. Print Detective provides details about the drivers installed on any Windows system and allows filtering by native or non-native ones.
I’d also like to recommend the printing section of our comprehensive XenDesktop Handbook. You’ll find a wealth of design-focused information around how to make the best decision in your environment with things like architectural diagrams, flowcharts, real-world field experience and more. The printing topic in our product documentation also has some best practices. For overall content on Citrix printing and other HDX technologies, visit our Citrix HDX page.
Until next time, happy printing!