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.
You can fix this Remote Desktop Services problem by opening an elevated Command Prompt window and entering the following commands:
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.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Brien M. Posey, MCSE, is a Microsoft Most Valuable Professional for his work with Windows 2000 Server and IIS. He has served as CIO for a nationwide chain of hospitals and was once in charge of IT security for Fort Knox. As a freelance technical writer, he has written for Microsoft, TechTarget, CNET, ZDNet, MSD2D, Relevant Technologies and other technology companies.