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Five reasons printer redirection causes Windows printing problems in RDS

Windows printing problems are a pain in the noggin. If you have printer redirection issues with Remote Desktop Services, check user permissions, client requirements and more.

At the end of the day -- or the beginning -- you just want your printer to print. With Microsoft's Remote Desktop...

Services, printer redirection problems might be the most common issue end users encounter.

In Windows Server 2008, Microsoft introduced a new feature called Terminal Server Easy Print, which was designed to cure chronic printer redirection problems. Even so, Windows printing problems in Remote Desktop Services (RDS) are far from extinction.

Here are five of the most common printer redirection glitches in Microsoft RDS and how to fix them.

1. Terminal Services is running on a domain controller

Except in the case of Small Business Server, Microsoft advises against running the Terminal Services on a domain controller. This is recommended presumably because exposing a domain controller to a Terminal Services environment can weaken security, but running Terminal Services on a domain controller can also cause Windows printing problems.

With Microsoft's Remote Desktop Services, printer redirection problems might be the most common issue end users encounter.

You can fix this Remote Desktop Services problem by opening an elevated Command Prompt window and entering the following commands:

C:
Cd\Windows\System32\spool
Cacls.exe PRINTERS /e g users:C

After you enter that command, you must reboot.

2. Printer redirection isn't configured correctly

In Windows Server 2008, a Group Policy setting manages Microsoft RDS printer redirection. You can find the setting at: Computer Configuration\Administrative Templates\Windows Components\Terminal Services\Terminal Server\Printer Redirection. Enabling this policy setting redirects the default client printer. If you disable this setting in Windows RDS -- or do not configure it -- it will redirect all client printers, so you should make sure to enable and configure it for only the clients you want redirected in your environment.

3. The print driver is missing

As is the case with standalone desktops, Remote Desktop Services sessions require printer drivers to enable printing. You should install the printer driver directly on the terminal server and then enable the Group Policy setting for printer redirection -- see path above.

More on Remote Desktop Services:

Five helpful commands for managing Remote Desktop Services

Remote Desktop Services: Server and client requirements

Getting started with Remote Desktop Services

Once you enable the Group Policy setting in Remote Desktop Services, the terminal server will attempt to use the Terminal Services Easy Print driver to install client printers. If it can't use the Easy Print Driver, the Terminal Services will look for a driver on the terminal server that matches the client's printer. If the Terminal Services fail to locate such a driver, Remote Desktop Services will disable printing.

4. The user doesn't have permission to print

Sometimes Remote Desktop Services printer redirection fails because the end user does not have sufficient permission to print. You may see an Access Denied error in the event logs -- not on the user's screen. Fortunately, it's a simple matter to resolve these kinds of Windows printing problems.

On the terminal server, open Windows Explorer and navigate to C:\Windows\System32\spool\printers. Right-click on the Printers folder and select the Properties command from the shortcut menu. When the resulting Properties sheet appears, go to the Security tab and then add Everyone to the security permissions. Click Apply and OK, and all users should have permission for Microsoft RDS printer redirection.

5. You haven't met printer redirection client requirements

For Remote Desktop Services printer redirection to work, the client computers must adhere to some minimum software requirements. For starters, they must run version 6.1 or higher of the Remote Desktop Client. Additionally, client computers running Windows XP or Vista must have version 3.0 Service Pack 1 of the .NET Framework. Windows Vista Service Pack 1 includes both of these components, but if you have clients running Windows XP, you'll have to install Windows XP SP3 and the .NET Framework separately.

Microsoft also recommends you install Hotfix KB-954744 if you're running Windows XP. This hotfix addresses several Easy Print issues including garbled characters and incorrect page orientation.

If you're having trouble with Remote Desktop Services printer redirection, make sure you've addressed these Microsoft RDS software requirements, permissions and driver issues.

Next Steps

Navigate the complexities of remote desktop printer redirection

How Windows administrators can manage print queues

Virtual desktop printing: They're not called hard copies for nothing

This was last published in March 2012

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Have you had RDS printer redirection problems? What caused them?
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Some times terminal server printer spooler crashed and remote users are not able to find their local printer unless they complain and we've to restart the spooler service and ask them to relogin.
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64-bit remote desktop unable to print to 32-bit client - cannot install the print driver
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Poorly documented printer RDS printer redirection policies and implementation guide lines.
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Improper driver configuration
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Inheriting a new network is always a challenge and I learn more about the inner workings of the server environment by having to troubleshoot issues I never knew existed.
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Settings in the advanced tab under printer properties are not amendable. Windows server 2008 R2.
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My Problem solve after giving full rights to Printer folder "C:\windows\system32\spool\printer"
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Thank you very much. Problem solved. Was scratching my head with this one..
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it prints first 60 pages correctly but the rest of the document comes out blank
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I have server 2003 and I connect remote desktop from 2 PCs (1 is Windows XP and 2nd is Windows 7), but in XP, the PC all printer are coming in print redirection and Windows 7 PC epson printer (lpt port) printer did not redirect. Please, tell me what is the problem.
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