Deployed Printers Disappear, Group Policy Update Unsuccessful

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Troubleshooting Printers in a Work/Domain Environment

There is nothing more frustrating than knowing that certain network deployed printers keep disappearing from computers or user profiles. As an information technology staff myself, i run into these troubles quite often. We will start troubleshooting this problem by first checking with your domain administrator to make sure that these printers are indeed deployed to the computers or users. We need to also make sure that they are deployed to the correct organizational unit. We need to then make sure that computers or users are placed in the appropriate organizational units, believe me! we can sometimes overlook this fact in our troubleshooting.

Deployed Network Printers

If all is good at the domain end then we will proceed with local troubleshooting. From my experience, the occurrences of printers disappearing from user profiles happens mostly in Windows 8 than in Windows 7. I find this in Windows 10 as well but less often. The first resolution (quick fix) to this problem is to try the

gpupdate /force command from Start > Run > CMD 

command and pray to god they show up after a reboot. This command should force apply the domain user policy to the system. This may work very well for computers running Windows 7 but I found that it is a hit or miss with Windows 8 and Windows 10 machines. So how do we fix this problem at the root?

Deployed Printers Disappear on Domain Computers

How to fix printers disappearing from domain computers & user accounts? (first step and best practice at the local level)

Firstly, you want to try to standardize all operating systems in your work environment, get all of your users under one roof and use the same version of Windows. Secondly, you want to make sure that you run all Windows updates before gathering an image with Ghost or any other software. If you are using a MDT server be sure to push out the latest updates and patches to the deployed computers. Microsoft constantly releases updates and fixes to Windows products especially Windows 8 (because it was such a mess). I find that our end users often skip past Windows updates and does a hard shut down on their computers often. This makes it impossible to always apply Windows updates properly in a production network. Which is why it is also a good idea to re-image your computers from time to time.

image

But I am up to date, Why isn’t my printer deployments showing up?

Missing printer deployment

The next level of troubleshooting involves checking if the domain deployed printers are actually getting installed on the user’s computer. You can view this by opening up

 printmgmt.msc from Start > Run Menu  

 Some printer drivers can be finicky where it requires an admin to authorize the printer driver to be installed (which is why you will want to find packaged drivers from the manufacturer and stick with universal drivers whenever possible). If the user is an admin on their computer then this is no problem but if the printer is deployed to a regular user, domain permissions may not allow the installation of these printer drivers thus the printer not showing up for that user.

Best Practice for Domain Admins to Mitigate Printer Deployment Problems

When possible, domain administrators should use universal printer drivers on the print server, these drivers are often included with all major versions of windows or pulled from Windows updates thus easily installed by the system. Specialized printer drivers should only be used for smaller deployments where a user needs advanced resources to the printer. Following this practice, will avoid the majority of your printer deployment headaches. If you are having trouble with (PCL) version of the printer drivers, try swapping it out for (PS) drivers which may offer better compatibility with applications.

How to always ensure that deployed printers show up on domain computers?

Sometimes no matter what we do, we just can’t get a finicky or old printer driver to stick. This may happen randomly on computers and user accounts. Here is how you can always ensure that printer drivers are installed on a specific system.

  • Log-in to your domain joined computer using a domain administrator/local administrator account
  • Open up your network printer server (open any folder and type in //your-print-server-address)
  • double-click on the printer that this computer should have (this will manually install the printer driver on computer)
  • Now you may go back to control panel > devices and printers and remove the printer that you have just installed (this would just remove that deployment but your system will hold on to the drivers installed)
  • Since the printer drivers are now installed on your system, your domain printer deployments will always work because they will not have to prompt the user to install a driver or get it off the print server.

The above tips have always worked for me when it came to troubleshooting network printers disappearing from user profiles and computers. I hope you have found the answers that you are looking for in this article. Be sure to drop me a comment below about your IT experiences with printer deployments. Thanks, for visiting and stay tuned for more tech news and tips.

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