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WHS As Printer Server RRS feed

  • Question

  • I helped my son install his new HP EX470 WHS box this weekend.  Very slick device but I was astounded not to find any info about using it as a printer server.  This is a function that seems like such a perfect fit for any "Home Server" box.  A brief search of this forum turned up some older posts that seem to confirm that it doesn't work as a print server.  I'm just wondering if anybody has discovered a way of making it do this?  Or if anybody knows of any plans that HP or Microsoft may have for adding this feature?
    Monday, January 12, 2009 6:06 PM

Answers

  • It is often possible to configure Windows Home Server to share a printer, but no, it's not a design feature. My own thought is that there is too much variation in how printer drivers install and function for Microsoft to be able to build an architecture that would support an arbitrary consumer printer properly. 

    My usual recommendation is to purchase a network printer, or a network multifunction device. They don't cost much, and are designed for the use you're interested in.

    I'm not on the WHS team, I just post a lot. :)
    Monday, January 12, 2009 7:30 PM
    Moderator

All replies

  • It is often possible to configure Windows Home Server to share a printer, but no, it's not a design feature. My own thought is that there is too much variation in how printer drivers install and function for Microsoft to be able to build an architecture that would support an arbitrary consumer printer properly. 

    My usual recommendation is to purchase a network printer, or a network multifunction device. They don't cost much, and are designed for the use you're interested in.

    I'm not on the WHS team, I just post a lot. :)
    Monday, January 12, 2009 7:30 PM
    Moderator
  • WHS works just fine as a print server! I have a Canon i860 printer hooked up.

    1. From a client PC, download the printer driver from the manufacturer's web site. Copy the printer driver to a convenient share folder on your server.
    2. Log on to the server's desktop using remote desktop.
    3. Install the printer driver following the manufacturer's instructions.
    4. Click Start -> Printers & Faxes, then double click the Add Printer icon and launch the Add Printer Wizard.
    5. Choose the Local printer attached to this computer option, and check the auto detect checkbox.
    6. Follow the remainder of the printer wizard instructions. Make sure to pick the share printer option!
    7. When the install is done, the printer will be visible in the Printers and Fax window, with a extended hand under the icon, indicating that the printer is shared.
    8. Log off the server.
    9. On each client PC, go to the control panel and open the Printer Control panel
    10. Double click the add printer icon
    11. Choose the Add a Network printer option
    12. Choose the Browse for Printer option
    13. Search for your server name and the printer underneath it.
    14. Complete the remainder of the Add Printer wizard.
    Monday, January 12, 2009 8:27 PM
  • Scott, that will work with some printers, but not all. Some printers ship without drivers that will work with Windows Server 2003, or ship with extremely large (dare I say "bloated") software suites in addtion to the drivers. There are other potential issues as well. In addition, everything you describe doing on your server is unsupported, by virtue of being done in a Remote Desktop session or via physical console.
    I'm not on the WHS team, I just post a lot. :)
    Monday, January 12, 2009 8:58 PM
    Moderator
  • Scott:  Very interesting.  I think that is worth a try.  Seems like the key would be to see if the printer has a driver that is supported by Windows Server 2003.  I'll have to do some checking but again, certainly worth a try. 

    Ken:  I hear what you are saying.  However, if a $40 printer server can perform this function it sure seems that HP could make their $500+ WHS box do it.  Just seems like a natural thing for a "home server" to do.  But maybe that's a beef with HP rather than MS.
    Tuesday, January 13, 2009 2:49 PM
  • For the most part the problem is the printer design and driver architecture, not the server per se. Many consumer printers are designed to use your PC as the rendering engine, just sending a bitstream to a very simple print engine. (These are usually referred to as "winprinters" or "gdi printers".) You can tell them by the mile-long list of drivers on the test page when you've connected one successfully. These printers often work poorly (if at all) when shared from one computer to another. There's nothing that HP or Microsoft can do about bad drivers, I'm afraid.

    A printer with a true Page Description Language (PostScript, PCL, etc.) engine is more robust, and more likely to work with your server. For one thing, it's more likely to have bulletproof drivers for Windows Server 2003.

    I'm not on the WHS team, I just post a lot. :)
    Tuesday, January 13, 2009 5:01 PM
    Moderator
  • Fisher99: If your printer's driver supports Windows Server 2003, you should be all set to go. Note that Ken tends to take a conservative approach, especially for people that have purchased a WHS box and assumed to be less technically able. Then, there's the enthusiast crowd that has built their own boxes and are willing to tinker. Just as an FYI - the procedure I described is actually published in WHS books and a number of other WHS sites. I'm not taking credit for the solution. 
    Tuesday, January 13, 2009 10:20 PM
  • Thanks guys.  Great info and much appreciated.


    Wednesday, January 14, 2009 2:37 PM