Microsoft print server provides a great way to share printers throughout your organisation, but when the print server falls over, the phone quickly starts to ring. By adding a load balancer and a second print server configured with the same print queues, you'll quickly have a load balanced and resilient printing infrastructure for your users.

The load balancer is configured using Layer 4 DR (Direct Return) mode, and therefore you'll also need to solve the ARP problem on the print servers. This is a straight forward process as mentioned below in the section "Setup the Print Servers".

Outline Steps:

  1. Create a Virtual Service (VIP) on the load balancer that listens on the various NetBIOS, RPC and SMB ports used by the print server
  2. Associate your print servers to this Virtual Service, i.e. define them as 'Real Servers' (RIPs) for the VIP
  3. Configure registry settings on your print servers & configure NetBIOS resolution
  4. Point your clients at the load balancer to access the print server and printer shares

Setup the Load Balancer

(the steps listed are for a v8.x appliance, but are similar for all versions)

  1. Using the WebUI, navigate to: Cluster Configuration > Layer 4 - Virtual Services
  2. Enter the following settings:

    Label:  PrintServerVIP (this is the name of the VIP - set this according to your requirements)
    Virtual Server IP address:  192.168.100.10 (set an appropriate IP for your environment)
    Virtual Sever Ports:  135-139,445,1024-65535
    Protocol:   TCP
    Forwarding Method:  Direct Routing

  3. Click Update
  4. Using the WebUI, navigate to: Cluster Configuration > Layer 4 - Virtual Services and click Modify next to the newly created Virtual Service
  5. Set the checkport to 135
  6. Using the WebUI, navigate to: Cluster Configuration > Layer 4 - Real Servers
  7. Now add your print servers as Real Servers for the VIP

Setup the Print Servers

  1. Install the print server role on your Windows Servers
  2. Install & share all printers on each print server - use the same share names and permissions across all servers
  3. On each print server, follow through the steps to solve the 'ARP problem'  for your particular version of Windows - the steps can be found in the Administration Manual - just search for "solving the ARP problem for Windows Servers"

    VERY IMPORTANT !!
    When configuring the loopback adapter, make sure that these options are also checked (ticked) :
    'Client for Microsoft Networks' and 'File & Printer Sharing for Microsoft Networks'


  4. To ensure that the print servers can be accessed via a shared NetBIOS name ('PrintServer' in this example), add the following registry entries to each print server:

    Key: HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\Lsa
    Value: DisableLoopbackCheck
    Type: REG_DWORD
    Data: 1

    Key: HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Services\lanmanserver\parameters
    Value: DisableStrictNameChecking
    Type: REG_DWORD
    Data: 1

    Key: HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Services\lanmanserver\parameters
    Value: OptionalNames
    Type: REG_MULTI_SZ
    Data: PrintServer

    N.B. 'PrintServer' is the name that will be used to access the load balanced print servers via the Virtual Service created on the load balancer. This can be set to be any appropriate name. Whatever name is used, is must resolve to the IP address of the Virtual Service as explained in step 5 below.

    Key: HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Services\lanmanserver\parameters
    Value: srvcomment
    Type: REG_SZ
    Data: Server 1 of PrintServer cluster

    N.B. This is a description of each print server, set as appropriate.

  5. Make sure that NetBIOS name resolution is configured correctly so that the shared print server name ('PrintServer' in this example) can be resolved to the Virtual Service IP address on the load balancer. This can be achieved in either of 2 ways:
    1. By adding entries to the lmhosts file on each PC / server that will be using the load balanced print servers
      • Make sure that NetBIOS over TCP/IP is enabled, if the server has a static IP address, this is normally the default configuration
      • If name resolution does not work immediately, you may need to click the 'Import LMHOSTS' button
    2. Configuring a WINS server in your environment - this would be the preferred option if many client PCs will be using the load balanced print servers

Accessing the Load Balanced Print Servers

You should now be able to access your printers by browsing using either the Virtual Services IP address, or the NetBIOS name configured, in this example:

\\192.168.100.10

or

\\PrintServer

There are various ways to install the printer on a client PC, one way for a Windows 7 client is:

  1. Select Devices and Printers
  2. Click Add a printer
  3. Select the Add a network, wireless or Bluetooth printer option
  4. Click The printer I want isn't listed
  5. Click Select a shared printer by name
  6. Now type in either the IP address of the VIP or the name as shown above, then select the required printer from the drop down list that appears

You'll also see any shared folders that have been configured on the server which may also be useful depending on your requirements.