We have a number of Windows Server 2008 R2 on our network, one is the master domain controller and another is the additional domain controller.

When I setup the additional domain controller (with the intention of creating a level of redundancy) I noticed that it correctly copied over the following:-

  1. User and Computer accounts
  2. Group policies
  3. DNS Server setup and configuration settings

Today I needed to install some new RAM on the master domain controller. So I powered off the server and started to install the RAM. The first problem that I hadn't fully thought through was the roaming profiles - they were still on the master domain controller. The second problem was the printers.

We have three networked printers that are added using Group Policy preferences. When I powered off the master domain controller none of the users could print.

So, what is the best way of adding printers via GP Preferences but allowing either domain controller to run independently?

Roles Installed:

  1. Active Directory Domain Services
  2. DNS Server
  3. File Services

It's not actually a print server, each network printer has a static IP and we then share that printer and add it using Group Policy Preferences.

Screenshot of Group Policy Preference

GPO Printers

  • Your DC is also your print server and file server?
    – jscott
    Apr 28, 2011 at 17:18
  • At the moment it's a file server aswell, I'm in the process of splitting the roles into separate servers. I have added the roles the domain controller has to my question.
    – dannymcc
    Apr 28, 2011 at 17:21

3 Answers 3


Those are Shared printers, not TCP/IP printers. When the server hosting those shared printers is down users won't be able to print to those printers. You might consider adding the printers as TCP/IP printers. That way the users need only connect to the share one time to download the driver and then thereafter connect and print directly to the printer.

  • Is there a GP setting to add them as TCP/IP across the entire domain?
    – dannymcc
    Apr 28, 2011 at 20:10
  • It's in the same place that you created the shared printers, select TCP/IP printer instead of Shared printer.
    – joeqwerty
    Apr 28, 2011 at 20:24
  • Glad to help...
    – joeqwerty
    Apr 28, 2011 at 20:26

I believe the issue is with DNS. If the client are pointed to the DC you shutdown for DNS, then while it was down they likely had no DNS. You can make sure DHCP is handing out the second DC as a DNS server, but really, clients don't failover well when their primary DNS server goes away.

In the future, you could change the DNS servers handed out by DHCP to the secondary server the day before maintenance so that they are using that server as the primary during your maintenance window.

  • We don't have DHCP, everything has a static IP. Would a better option be to add the backup DC IP as the second DNS IP on each workstation?
    – dannymcc
    Apr 28, 2011 at 19:10
  • Yes, but as I said above, the clients will take some time to fail over for DNS. You may want to find a way to be able to manage it centrally.
    – uSlackr
    Apr 28, 2011 at 19:18

Your issue isn't with the printers, it was with the print server. Your users are connecting to your DC as a print server. When it is not available, they can't print. Now, it is not good to have your DCs do any file or print serving for users. But, I see in your comment you plan to change that.

In the short term, the best option might be to not use a print server and have your users connect directly to the printer. Of course, this assumes your printers can handle the load. It is very easy if the printers support Windows shares. Try browsing to their IP Address or DNS name as a Windows share, "\Printer name". They may have a queue listed there. Unfortunately, this can cause some overloads and conflicts on smallish printers. Larger printers usually can manage the jobs more effectively. It is only a stop gap until you get a new server that can function as a print server.

  • I may be confused but I believe that I am only 'pointing' the users at the printers. The three printers are maintained by a service provider and are all pretty high spec 'enterprise' machines. They have static IP addresses which show full control panel like software when visited. The printers are being added to the users accounts via Group Policy Preferences which I would have thought would remain in place when the secondary Domain Controller kicks in because the Group Policy's are duplicated.
    – dannymcc
    Apr 28, 2011 at 19:25
  • Are the printers configured in GP as Shared printers or TCP/IP printers? That's the key.
    – joeqwerty
    Apr 28, 2011 at 19:30
  • I have added a screenshot of the GP to my question.
    – dannymcc
    Apr 28, 2011 at 19:35

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