situation - small network of 25 PC windows 7, two network (connected via network cable, dedicated fixed IP address) printers (Xerox WorkCenter 7120). Office divided in two parts, each part has its own printer, so people dont have to stand up and make more than ten steps to get their papers :)

problem - Xerox 7120 was not a good choice for us and is very maintenance intense, causing problems and outages. People have to be informed to use the other printer while the first one is offline, and BFU is yelling, that "it is too complicated" to choose another printer from the menu ...

question - is it possible to have something like "failover" printing, like

PC in office 1 : try printer 1, if not available, print on printer 2

PC in office 2 : try printer 2, if not available, print on printer 1

automatic solution, no user imput required (well, some notice where it was actually printed would be nice) ? I tried to google for some solution, but most I've found was for Windows 2000, that scared me a little :)

  • 2
    If they're complaining that it's "too hard" to choose a different printer, what makes you think that they'll be happy as clams walking to a farther printer on the off chance their print job comes out there? O.o
    – GregD
    Jul 25, 2013 at 14:50
  • User education is key ...it can't be that difficult to tell them to just choose the other one.
    – Nathan C
    Jul 25, 2013 at 14:50
  • Make the users do their IC3 training
    – Simkill
    Jul 25, 2013 at 15:02
  • Thanks, but you are not getting my point. Sometimes, especially in government-run company, users are "smarter" than poor IT guy, and trying to educate them means just anger and pain ... If education was a way, I'd have done it and didn't ask here ...
    – Radek
    Sep 12, 2017 at 6:44
  • A commercial solution like Print&Share can do this with printing strategy. (note i'm affiliated with the company).
    – juFo
    Jan 15, 2021 at 9:20

3 Answers 3


You can create a printer pool of identical printers. Users print to the pool and the print comes out where ever is least busy. If a printer fails, it will print to whichever is available. You can find more information here http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc757086(v=ws.10).aspx

  • 3
    This won't work since it won't say where the job went. It even recommends in the article that the printers should be in the same place.
    – Nathan C
    Jul 25, 2013 at 14:50

If it were me, I'd have a poke around with an open-source IP-based load balancer. HAproxy springs to mind.

Set it up for straight-up TCP load balancing, and configure a check to see if the printer is responding.

Then you point your users at the HAproxy instance, rather than either of the two printers.

Most printers are happy enough using TCP/9100 (Thanks HP and JetDirect), but you might also want to load-balance the traffic on TCP/631 (Internet Printing Protocol) if your drivers require that.

The advantage of using something like HAProxy is that you don't have to buy any additional software/hardware (maybe). It'll run happily on a VM (1GB, 1Core, Ubuntu) or similar..

It occurs to me that you'd want to use weighted round-robin, and set the weight to 100 and 1 so that it would preferentially print to one or the other - because what you don't want is half a print job going to one, and the other half going to the other. Perhaps LinuxVirtualServer (LVS) might be a better fit, where you can have traffic going to one or the other. Not sure. Pretty sure that the answer is L3 load-balancing/failover somewhere along the line, though.

Plus, you get to learn a new technology, which is always fun.

It might not work at all (if I had a couple of printers, I'd try this idea out), but at least you'll have tried something out.


Third party software tools such as Print Queue Manager by SoftwareShelf can do this for you. But I'm unaware of a built-in tool to handle this. Simkill's idea of a printer pool is the closest but with load-balancing like that you need the printers in the same place. So you can definitely go the printer pool route if you want to simply pick up two more printers and stick 2 printers at Location A and two at Location B.

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