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Choosing and configuring a port

Updated: January 21, 2005

Applies To: Windows Server 2003, Windows Server 2003 R2, Windows Server 2003 with SP1, Windows Server 2003 with SP2

Choosing and configuring a port

The term print monitor is used to describe two types of print monitors: language monitor and port monitor. (See the The printing process to see how the print monitor fits into the printing process.) A language monitor is needed if the printer supports bidirectional printing, a two-way communication between the printer and the spooler running on the print server. The spooler then can access configuration and status information from the printer. The more important monitor is the port monitor, which controls the I/O port to the printer. A printer port is an interface through which a printer can communicate with the computer. You can add printer ports using the Add Printer Wizard while adding a printer, from the Ports tab in the printer's property page, or through the print server property page. See Set Ports and Protocols for the complete procedures on ports.

The process of selecting a port and the subsequent options that are displayed depends on how your printer is connected to the server or network and what software (including protocols) you have installed.

If the printer is physically attached to the print server, select the appropriate local port. LPT1 through LPT3 represent parallel ports; COM1 through COM4 represent serial ports. When a client prints to a printer port denoted as FILE, the client is prompted for the file name, and the output file is stored on the client computer. If you decide to add a new local port, you can enter one of the following:

  • A file name, such as C:\dir\filename. All jobs sent to this port are written to the named file, and each new job overwrites the last one.

  • The share name of a printer, such as \\server\printer (URLs are not accepted). Jobs sent to this port are transferred over the network to the named share by the network redirector.

  • NUL. This specifies the null port, which you can use to test whether network clients can send jobs. Jobs sent to NUL are deleted without wasting paper or delaying real print jobs.

  • IR. Use this port to connect to infrared-enabled printers meeting Infrared Data Association (IrDA) specifications. If your hardware does not support IR, it will not be listed on the Ports tab.

Certain ports are not listed in the Ports tab unless a printer that requires one of them is installed. Universal Serial Bus (USB) and IEEE 1394 printers are Plug and Play compatible; when you plug a printer into the correct physical port (and USB or IEEE 1394) enabled in BIOS, the correct port monitor is installed automatically. Your operating system detects the device, displays its settings on the screen, and prompts you to confirm. You might be required to insert a CD-ROM containing driver files, as described in Add a local port.

If the printer is attached directly to the network, add a port when prompted by the Add Printer Wizard for a port selection. The following table shows the port options available and explains under what conditions the port is available. You must have administrative credentials to add a port.


Additional port Enables clients to print to Available

Local port

Printers connected to a parallel port, serial port, specific file name, universal naming convention (UNC) name, or the NUL port.

By default; see Add a local port.

Standard TCP/IP port

TCP/IP printers connected directly to the network.

By default; see Add a standard TCP/IP port.

AppleTalk printing devices

AppleTalk printers.

When AppleTalk protocol is installed; see Add an AppleTalk printing device port.

LPR port

TCP/IP printers connected to a UNIX (or VAX) server.

When Print Services for Unix is installed; see Add an LPR port.

Port for NetWare

NetWare printing resources.

When NWLink protocol and Client Services for NetWare are installed.


  • Print Server for Macintosh is not available on the 64-bit versions of the Windows operating systems.

The port you need might not appear in the wizard if its prerequisite network protocol or services are not installed. To add a network protocol or service, see Add a network component.

Print Services for Unix

With UNIX, a program on one computer can use a Line Printer Remote (LPR) service to send a document to a print spooler service on another computer. The receiving service is usually called a Line Printer Daemon (LPD).

Print Services for Unix provides both LPR and LPD services, which act independently on a print server computer running a Windows Server 2003 family operating system. LPD is run on the print server computer to allow the server to accept jobs from LPR clients such as UNIX systems. LPR is an option for computers running Windows XP Professional to submit jobs to UNIX servers running LPD.

  • LPDSVC on the print server receives documents from native LPR utilities running on client UNIX computers.

  • LPRMON on the print server sends print jobs to native LPD processes on UNIX computers to which printers are attached.

By default, the LPD service is set to start manually. To have it start automatically, change the startup options for the TCP/IP print server service in Services. You need a Windows Server 2003 family operating system compact disc to install Print Services for Unix on a computer running a Windows Server 2003 family operating system. You need the Windows XP Professional compact disk to install the services on a computer running Windows XP Professional.

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