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Introduction (Best Practices for Deploying Printer Location with Active Directory)

Updated: March 1, 2003

Applies To: Windows Server 2003 with SP1

In network environments, most users do not need to know the physical location of files, databases, or Web sites. However, they do need to know the physical location of hardware devices, such as printers. The printer location tracking feature in Microsoft Windows 2003 helps users find printers by storing their actual location in the Microsoft Active Directory service. When this feature is enabled, the location string is displayed automatically for each printer.

To use this feature, your network environment must have the following characteristics:

  • A Windows 2000 or Windows 2003 domain controller (which, by definition, runs Active Directory) and preferably more than one subnet.

  • A network IP addressing scheme that corresponds roughly to the physical layout of your enterprise (not required but very helpful).

  • Client computers that can query the directory service.

  • A subnet object for each site. Subnet objects can be created using Active Directory Sites and Services.

  • Your own naming convention for printer location

  • Administrator privileges on the print server to set the printers location field, and permissions to create sites/subnets on the Domain Controller to populate the location field.

Group Policy lets you configure printer location tracking for a group of computers using the Computer Location and Pre-Populate Printer search location text policies.

For more information about these policies, see the Explain tab for each policy.

For the steps to set up printer location tracking, type "printer location tracking" in the index of Windows 2003 Server Help and Support Center.

The location search ability can be very useful for your clients, as long as all printers in your organization use a consistent schema that allows users to search. The location schema used for printers should be planned out thoroughly before deployment as it will be used throughout your printing organization. This white paper outlines some best practices for creating and maintaining a useful location schema.

The major steps involved in this effort are:

  1. Verify the printer names and their subnets. It's best to keep this information in a spreadsheet or database and update it regularly. This information is helpful when upgrading print servers and for general maintenance as well.

  2. Define the location tree structure.

  3. Configure the printer locations.

  4. Enable the printer location tracking policy.

  5. Test the final setup.

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