Print Management is one of those jobs that can be tedious and boring, but get it right and it makes life so much easier. I’m going to walk you through some of the methods that I use to manage client printers and have ConnectWise Automate remediate issues for me.
As a standard setup for our clients, we have the server running the Print Server role, install the Printer(s) on the server and deploy them via the Print Management interface in Windows.
Ignite is your friend
Automate® Ignite™ is a set of pre-configured, out-of-the-box functions built into the Automate remote monitoring and management (RMM) platform and designed to get your business up and running in no time. It was developed and built by IT managed services industry experts and following Microsoft best practices, Automate Ignite sets the standard for simple IT services delivery incorporating mission-critical monitoring packs, industry defined thresholds, auto-fix scripts, automated patch management and much more!https://docs.connectwise.com/ConnectWise_Automate/ConnectWise_Automate_Documentation/080/030/040
A huge part of Ignite is the Management Packs, these let you configure and customize each specific monitor which can also help tone down your ticket volume in Automate. Click here to get help on configuring the Management Packs in Ignite. Once you have Ignite up and running, it can then start to detect the Print Server role on your servers.
Installing the Print Server role
To ensure that your servers have the Print Server role installed, open Server Manager > Add Roles and Features > Features > Print Management > Print and Document Services and under Role Services ensure Print Server is selected and install.
Deploying the Printer via GPO
Assuming that you’ve already got the printer installed on the server, open Print Management from mmc.exe or Administrative Tools and expand Print Servers > Printers and right-click on your desired printer and select Deploy with Group Policy. Select your GPO Name and apply it to Users or Devices.
Print Server Role
Automate will automatically detect the Print Server role once it has polled the machine again, you can manually do a Commands > Inventory > Resend Everything to speed this process up. You can then browse to Automation > Searches > View Searches and then scroll down to ‘Server Roles’ and open the search for Server Role – Print Servers
From within Automate, you can now open a device configuration screen and right-click on Plugins and select ‘Print Server’ and see a list of monitors. The monitors are:
- Perf – Jobs (Shows the current number of jobs in a print queue)
- Perf – Not Ready Errors (Shows the total number of printer not ready errors since the last restart)
- Perf – Print Job Errors (shows the total number of job errors in a print queue since the last restart)
- Perf – Total Jobs Printed (shows the total number of jobs printed on a print queue since the last restart)
- Perf – Total Pages Printed (Shows the total number of pages printed through GDI (Graphical Device Interface) on a print queue since the last restart)
- SVC – Spooler (Checks to see if the Spooler service is running)
Managing the Print Server role
You may have already configured this earlier on in this article in the Ignite Management Packs, but if this was already installed and hasn’t been properly configured, head over to Automation > Ignite Manager. At the top right corner, select on the configure bars. Under Core Services select Print Server and edit the Alert Template to something actionable such as Autofix Action Restart Service.
3rd Party Tools
Over the years, I’ve also used a number of 3rd party tools to manage printers via ConnectWise Automate, these tools are great for engineers who are on the phone to clients and can work on these faults without interrupting the users, but they don’t often offer automation/ticket creation for these faults proactively.
- Printer Status by Squatting Dog Developments.
This Plugin is a great tool for every technician to be able to see each printer installed on a machine, clear the queue, restart services, print test pages and even set default printers for end users. It also allows the HTTP tunnel directly from Automate to manage the web interface of the printer.
- Printer Health Status by Squidworks.
Another great tool I have used quite often, it allows for a global view of all client devices and their respective printers. It allows an exclude list for ‘non-printers’ such as Print to PDF and Fax.
These are two well-respected contributors on MSPGeek who also have a host of other great tools to offer.
It is worth noting the Ticket Category inside the Ignite Manager and ensuring that you’re getting these tickets onto a board in Manage that’s being actively monitored. You can customize your Automate to Manage Tickets within the Manage plugin from System > ConnectWise Manage and then opening up the ‘Ticket Categories’ module.
Clients without Active Directory
If a client doesn’t have a server, I would suggest something along these lines:
- Create an EDF for ‘PrinterXYZ Installed’ as a checkbox under the Device level
- Upload the print drivers to your LTShare (Don’t forget X86 and X64)
- Create a script to deploy the print drivers to a local path on the machine, install the printer and tick the EDF
- Create a registry key with the Driver Version (so that it knows to install newer versions of the driver next time you run the script)
Run Scripts in Automate from Manage
In another article, here. We explain how to have the Type, Subtype, and Item in Manage automatically run scripts in Automate for you. As an example, A ticket is logged in Manage for ‘Printer not working’. Technicians update the ticket with the following Subtype and Item ‘Printer > Offline’ and Automate then runs a script to stop the service on the affected machine and logs the results as an internal note.