Configure printer pooling in Windows Server 2008

Printer pooling can consolidate print operations for Windows-based printing, which can lead to increased performance and cost savings. Rick Vanover shows how to use this feature for Windows Server 2008 systems.

Managing printers can be the bane of a Windows administrator. One feature that may assist you with this task is the Windows printer pooling feature. Windows Server 2008 (as well as previous versions of Windows Server) offers functionality that permits a collection of multiple like-configured printers to distribute the print workload.

Printer pooling makes one share that clients print to, and the jobs are sent to the first available printer. Configuring print pooling is rather straightforward in the Windows printer configuration applet of the Control Panel. Figure A shows two like-modeled printers being pooled. Figure A

Figure A

Click the image to enlarge.

You should use logical guidelines when implementing printer pooling. In the line-of-business world, it makes great sense to use printer pooling where any batch, order, or other large print jobs are frequent. Slower printers, especially high-quality color laser units, may have a slower page per minute (ppm) rate than traditional black laser or ink devices. Printer pooling makes sense in that situation if the number of print jobs warrant two of the high-cost devices.

To use pooling, the printer models need to be the same so that the driver configuration is transparent to the end device; this can also help control costs of toner and other supplies. But plan accordingly — you don't want users essentially running track to look for their print jobs on every printer in the office.

If you've seen the benefits of Windows-based printer pooling in your work environment, please share your comments in the discussion.

Stay on top of the latest Windows Server 2003 and Windows Server 2008 tips and tricks with our free Windows Server newsletter, delivered each Wednesday. Automatically sign up today!