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Slow printing through terminal servers

Implementing a terminal server environment can bring many benefits from a centralization and consolidation point of view, but organizations with many remote offices (especially if the offices are connected through weak WAN lines) may suffer from slow printing. We will look closer at how different terminal server printing setups can affect printing speed.

This article will focus mainly on the reason for slow printing being that print jobs are sent over WAN. But if you think this is not the main problem, instead read our article about how slow print servers themselves can cause slow printing.

Different terminal server printing methods

When printing speed through remote services is concerned, there are three main setups to consider:
  • The terminal server sends the print jobs directly to the printer (or via a print server).
  • The terminal server sends the print jobs to client computer, which in turn sends them to the printer.
  • Just like point number 2 above, but the client in turn sends the print jobs via a print server.
All of these affect printing speed in different ways. Previously, we have discussed the benefits and disadvantages of different terminal server printing methods more generally, but in this article, we will look specifically at how printing speed is affected.

Printing speed: Printer installed at terminal server

printer installed at terminal server

The print job is created and rendered in the terminal server. After being rendered, it is sent to the printer (either directly or via a separate print server). Since the job grows when it is rendered, the amount of data sent to the remote printer can be very large. This way of printing through terminal services is, therefore, generally slower.

Consider installing the printers at the clients instead to remedy this problem. Cirrato solves this problem by compressing print jobs before they are sent from the terminal server.

Printing speed: Printer installed at remote client

Printer installed at client

The print job is created in the terminal server but not rendered there. Instead, it is sent to the client where it is rendered. Because of this (rendering makes jobs bigger), the amount of traffic sent over WAN is smaller than in the previous case.

But in some cases, the jobs might be large anyway, and still cause slow printing. In that case, again, software that compresses print jobs before they are sent over WAN would probably be the right solution.

Printing speed: Printer installed at remote client with print server

Printer installed at client via print server

In this special case, the printing looks the same as the second case up until the point where the client gets the job. But then, the client sends the job to a print server, which in turn sends the job to a printer.

In this scenario, the job travels three times over the network:

  1. From the terminal server to the client computer.
  2. From the client computer to the print server.
  3. From the print server to the printer.

If, in the worst case scenario, the print server in the third step is also remote from the client computer, it has to travel over the WAN three times and the printing can be slow.

Remedy this problem by either not having print servers, or have the print servers in the same office as the printers. For example, Cirrato can help you remove print servers completely but still regain control.

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