If you have a server that handles the print queues for several highly used printers, then there's a chance that the print queues are placing a demand on the server that makes it tough for the server to keep up. Fortunately, there are a few things you can do to ease the print server's burden and increase performance.
Believe it or not, one of a print server's most heavily used resources is the hard disk. Normally, on a Windows 2000 Server, the system spools all print jobs to the %SystemRoot%System32spoolPRINTERS folder. Notice that the spool location is on the same hard disk as the Windows 2000 operating system. That means the print spooler has to share disk time with the operating system and anything else that might be loaded on the system drive. Therefore, I recommend placing your print spooler on a dedicated hard drive (not a separate partition on the same drive). If you really want a performance boost, you could go so far as to give the print spooler a dedicated RAID array.
To change the print spooler's location, select the Settings | Printers commands from the Start menu, to open the Printers window. Next, select the Server Properties command from the File menu. Doing so will open the Print Server Properties sheet. Now, select the Advanced tab. From here you'll be able change the spool folder location to a destination of your choosing.
Still another way of increasing printer performance is to use internal JetDirect print servers in your printers. Those devices are capable of receiving print jobs at 100M bit/sec. rather than the considerably slower speeds of parallel ports or USB cables. If you have an extremely high volume of print jobs, you could even go so far as to create a dedicated network segment just for printers to connect to the print server through. Doing so would speed up the process of moving data from the server to the printers and would also free up bandwidth on your primary network for other purposes.
About the author
Brien Posey is a freelance technical writer and has been working with computers for about 15 years. Before going freelance, Brien served as the Director of Information Systems for a large, nationwide healthcare company. He has also served as a network engineer/security consultant for the Department of Defense. You can access Brien's Web site, which contains hundreds of his articles and white papers, at www.brienposey.com.
This was first published in April 2002