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Our existing print server for our 8 printers is a Win 2003 server that is slowly being decommissioned. We want to move print services off this server but we want to move them to the right place. I don't want to make the domain controller a print server, nor do I want to use any of the other existing Windows Server 2008 R2 application servers. There are 2 other Windows Server 2003 machines that could be used.

Would a dedicated Hyper-V instance running Windows Server 2008 R2 be a waste of a Windows Server 2008 R2 license?

It seems to me that a lot of companies in our position run print services on the nearest piece of scrap instead. What are the main advantages to putting the services on Windows Server 2008 R2?

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4 Answers 4

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It seems to me that a lot of companies in our position run print services on the nearest piece of scrap instead. [...] Would a dedicated Hyper-V instance running Windows Server 2008 R2 be a waste of a Windows Server 2008 R2 license?

Mostly print services performance is not so much of a concern. It would make little sense to have a dedicated print server unless your printing system is taking such a load of print jobs that it would be either bottlenecking or starving other running services otherwise, or you need some kind of administrative separation so you could give "the printer admin guy" a local administrative account to manage everything by himself.

What are the main advantages to putting the services on Windows Server 2008 R2?

There is not an awful lot which has changed at the core, but there are some new features which might come handy in some scenarios. The "What's new in Print and Document Service" document lists the changes in more detail:

The following changes are available in Windows Server 2008 R2: Print migration enhancements

  • Printer driver isolation
  • Print administrator delegation
  • Print Management snap-in improvements
  • Client-Side Rendering (CSR) performance improvements
  • XML Paper Specification (XPS) print path improvements
  • Location-aware printing
  • Distributed Scan Server role service
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+1 for your analysis of when to use a Hyper-V. My guess is that it would be a waste of license in this case. –  Doltknuckle Jan 20 '12 at 17:45

Hosting print services has more to do with your computer environment than the technology available to you. Putting any service on a dedicated Hyper-V instance makes sense when you want to isolate it from other services and don't want to buy more hardware/licenses.

Here are some questions you should ask yourself.

  1. Who is going to be managing this service?
  2. Who is going to install new objects to this service? (ie: New printers or drivers)
  3. How difficult is it to restart the harware/VM in the event of a major problem?
  4. Does the system have enough resources to manage the load?
  5. What other services does this hardware provide? Any mission critical?
  6. How critical is print services?

Placement of services is more of a thought exercise to come to your own conclusion. My guess based off of the number of printers and the number of servers, is that printing is a low priority service that only a few people manage. If that is the case, it really doesn't matter where you put it.

Hope this helps

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You can do everything you need under 2003 however if you install a windows 2008 X64 box as your print server there is the advantage of forcing you to do things correctly. You will have to get drivers which are compatible with Windows 7/2008 and you will have to get both x64 and x86 drivers working if you want to share them out to both types of clients.

You can do all of this with 2003x86 but if you're going towards virtualizing things and you have a machine which can double as a print server, then use it as an excuse to just do the move over to 2008(x64). You're going to do it eventually. I'm not sure I'd bother dedicating a server to this - but that depends on your environment. I've worked in environments where dedicated servers did make sense due to the sheer number of queues.

If you have a 2008 DC you also gain the advantage of all the new group policy niceness - it works very well, especially if you have Windows 7 clients and non-priv users.

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Not sure if this is an option for you, but there is also hardware based print servers. Basically a small piece of hardware that you attached to your printer port, then plug in the ethernet cable on the other side. I have started using these instead of workstations/servers.

The only advantage of using a Windows server for this is that it auto loads the driver on the client, seems hardly worth the price.

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-1 - suing a Windows-based print queue gives you the ability to log print jobs, control printer access via ACLs, pool like printer models to increase queue throughput, and-- yes-- you get the "Point and Print" functionality to refer to in your last paragraph. If you're scaling to any reasonable number of clients using Windows-based print queues is very handy. –  Evan Anderson Jan 20 '12 at 13:53

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