Information on printers and printing

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Information on printers and printing

Getting accurate information on the utilization of printers is essential to ensure compliance with the printing policies established inside your organization and to optimize print costs. The Engine records every printing activity of the end-users that is initiated from any device in which the Collector is running.

Because of the technologies involved in the detection of print jobs, only Windows devices are able to send printing information for the moment.

Applies to platforms: PlatformWindows.png

Printer information

The Engine knows about a printer in your organization once a device that is equipped with the Collector tries to print a document on it. Depending on how the printer is connected to the device, Nexthink distinguishes four types of printers:

local
The printer is directly connected to the device via a serial or parallel port (USB, COM or LPT) and it is visible to all the users of the device under the same name. Virtual printers, that is, software drivers that behave like a printer driver but lack the physical apparatus and typically redirect their output to a file, also fall into the category of local printers.
tcp/ip
The printer is connected to the network and it is made available to the device via a standard TCP/IP port. All users of the same device see the printer with the same name or IP address.
wsd
The printer is connected to the network and it is made available to the device by means of a Web Services for Devices port. All users of the same device see the printer with the same name.
smb
The printer is made available to the device by sharing it from another device where the printer is locally connected via the SMB protocol. The printer is therefore considered as local in the hosting device, and as an SMB printer in the remote device. Each user in the remote device must individually import the SMB printer to be able to use it, so users may see the printer under different names. Note that SMB printer support is disabled by default in Nexthink.

Besides the type, Nexthink records the following information on printers:

Name
The name of the printer as it appears in the properties dialog.
Hostname
For local and smb printers, this is the name of the device to which the printer is directly connected.
For tpc/ip and wsd printers, this is usually the DNS name or IP address of the printer itself.
Display name
Since different users may see the same of printer under different names, the display name shows the most frequent name assigned to the printer.
Location
The place where the printer is found, according to its configuration properties.

Limit on the number of printers

The Collector supports up to 62 printers connected to a single device. A Collector that runs on a device with more than 62 connected printers fails to report any print job and, consequently, any printer.

Print job information

A print job is an activity that puts in relationship a user, a device and a printer. Thus, for a given print job, you can display in the Finder the name of the device that sent the print job, its ID, or its SID, without the need to drill-down to devices. Likewise, you can display the name of the user, its ID, its SID, or the name and model of the printer that took part in the print job.

At the end of the printing process, the print job is added to the Engine with one of the following status:

success
The print job has been successfully completed.
error
The print job was not completed because of an error.
unknown
The Collector could not determine the final status of the print job.

The rest of the fields of the print job reflect the options selected to configure the printer: Number of pages, Paper size, Duplex print, Color enabled, Print quality and Size.

Beware that software may modify the actual printout despite of the settings sent to the printer. In particular, the fact that the Color enabled field of the print job is reported as yes does not necessarily mean that the output is in color. For example, a user of PowerPoint who decides to print a colorful presentation in black and white may select the Grayscale option in the printing dialog of PowerPoint:

Printer dialog ppt.png

In this case, even if the user sets up a color printer to print in color and the Finder reports the Color enabled field as yes, the actual output is obviously in black and white. As a side note, depending on the printer model, enabling color output can still cause consumption of color ink to get a grey or black tone.

On the other hand, if the user sets up the printer itself to print in black and white, the resulting printout can never be in color and the Finder reports Color enabled as no.

Printer dialog.png

Something similar happens with applications that are able to group several document pages into one before sending the document to the printer. If an external application does the grouping, the printer knows nothing about it. Therefore, the printer reports the Number of pages that it actually printed. When it is the printer that makes the grouping, the Number of pages depend on the model of the printer. Some printers give the number of pages actually printed and some others take into account the grouping and give the number of pages of the original document.

For some print jobs, the Collector is also able to determine the Document type, which reflects the file format of the printed document or the application that produced it. Find the list of supported document types below:

  • Crystal
  • Excel
  • Illustrator
  • Image
  • InDesign
  • InfoPath
  • Outlook
  • PDF
  • Photoshop
  • Postscript
  • Powerpoint
  • Project
  • Publisher
  • Text
  • Visio
  • Word
  • Web
  • unknown

Print information in virtual environments

The basic principles of print support remain the same for virtual environments. For both VDI and streamed applications, the same information detailed above on printers and print jobs applies. In addition to the standard printing techniques, however, virtual environments introduce the concept of redirected printers. Consider for instance a user connecting to a virtual machine from a client device. If the client device is equipped with a local printer, the user can map the printer in the remote session. Thus, printing in the remote computer using the mapped printer effectively redirects the print jobs to the local printer.

Redirected printer.png

In the example above, all the printers that display (de NXT-PAT-W7) at the end of their name are redirected to the local printer in the client device NXT-PAT-W7. If the Collector is running on the client device and the user prints on one of these redirected printers, the print job is reported as originating from NXT-PAT-W7 and not from the virtual machine. This indeed corresponds to reality, since the printer is merely redirected, and not connected to the VM.

On the other hand, if the Collector is also installed in the VM, any print job sent to the redirected printer is reported to the Engine as originating from the VM as well. In this case, even the redirected printer is reported as local to the VM too. By default, these virtual printers and print jobs are discarded by the Engine to avoid duplications that might alter overall statistics. You can nevertheless control what kinds of print jobs are discarded by editing the configuration file of the Engine.

Print notifications of SMB printers

Devices that do not belong to a domain may fail to receive print notifications from SMB printers in the case that an anonymous user initiated the print job. To receive print notifications of anonymous users from SMB printers, ensure that the registry key NullSessionPipes holds the value spoolss:

  1. Open the registry editor by pressing the Windows + R keys and typing regedit.
  2. Locate the registry key NullSessionPipes here:
    • HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\services\LanmanServer\Parameters
  3. Edit its value and set it to spoolss.

An alternative solution is again to join all your devices to a domain. In a domain, all users are authenticated.

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