How To Setup a Printer Pool

When you must print, go redundant

Too many companies panic when one printer goes down. If your company relies heavily on one printer, and no printing means no work gets done, it's time to jump into the printer pool. Hint: you don't have to take your clothes off for a dip in the printer pool. What you must do, however, is get two or more identical printers. Not just two ink jets, or two lasers from the same vendor, but two of the exact same printer. Why? Because the users see a single printer entry in their printer options dialog, and they will use one client-based printer driver to send files to all the printers in the pool. Users won't know there's more than one printer until they walk over to get their pages and see two printers. Printer pooling is invisible to the users. The printer controls in your Windows server(s) handle all printers in the pool, sending print jobs to the next available printer. That jerk in accounting who prints a full report of every transaction for the last decade? He will no longer tie up the printer you need for the two page update your boss is demanding. Printer pools are great for companies with occasional huge print jobs, because other printing can still continue. Go to the Windows Printer Configuration applet in your server's control panel. Add the printers individually, tagging them 1 and 2 or A and B. Select them both (or all, if you're doing an Olympic sized printer pool), and click Properties. Check the boxes for all printers in Ports, then check the Enable Printer Pooling box at the bottom of the dialog. From then on, print jobs will go to the first available printer in your pool. When a printer runs out of paper and goes offline, the next job will go to the next available printer. Put your printers physically close to each other so your users can find their printouts. Setting up a printer pool will also consolidate consumables purchases, since all pooled printers will use the same ink cartridges and paper.

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