32-bit printer driver in 64-bit server! And the other way around!!!

article #129, updated 2142 days ago

OK, so we have that problem increasingly common, a 64-bit server, trying to serve a printer to 32-bit client machines, or vice versa. It took me a while, but here are two different methods I have needed, depending on situation.

First, see if current drivers are downloadable for this printer in the server’s mode (bit-width). If they are, we are able to use method #1, which is probably preferable, although method #2 may still work too. Here’s method #1:

  1. Download them in both 32-bit and 64-bit versions, install the printer to the server in its preferred (32- or 64-bit) mode, and test. Unpack the other driver in a good location, you will need it soon.
  2. Get the printer properties up, go to the Sharing section, set up sharing. Don’t publish to the Active Directory yet or you might drive somebody crazy. Click on Additional Drivers.
  3. You’ll notice “x86” or “x64” is unchecked, because you haven’t installed the other driver yet. Check it, and then hit OK. The system will now demand to be directed to where you have unpacked the other driver. Do so. It might work just at this point! But…
  4. …it may ask you for one of two additional things. It may ask for 32-bit install media; or, it may ask for particular files, e.g., ntprint.inf, or ntprint.in_, in 32-bit mode. It’s important to realize that the 32-bit requirement is for equivalent OS: a 2008R2 install requires files from 32-bit Windows 7, 64-bit Server 2008 requires files from 32-bit Vista, and 64-bit Server 2003 requires files from 32-bit XP. If you can supply these files, do it, and you’ll be done shortly; it has to be done just once per server, not per printer. If you cannot do this, you’ll need to use method #2.

If you cannot use method #1, or if there are no downloadable drivers for your printer, we go to method #2:

  1. If there are no downloadable drivers from the printer manufacturer, install the printer to the server using Windows built-in drivers. Under Windows 7 / 2008R2, there is a “Windows Update” clickable in the driver list, by which you can retrieve a much larger set of drivers than is included by default; this is highly recommended. The included Microsoft generics may help, there is a PCL6 and a PS.
  2. If there are downloadable drivers from the printer manufacturer, for the server OS, use them.
  3. Install the printer to the client. If you’re using Windows Update or built-in drivers on the server, use them on the client too. Otherwise, make sure that the client drivers are the same type as the server’s, i.e., PCL6 and PCL6, PCL5e and PCL5e, PS3 and PS3.
  4. On the client, log in as network administrator. Open up the properties of the printer. Click on Advanced. Click on New Driver. Notice the name of the wizard: you’re actually installing a driver onto the server, not onto the client!
  5. Choose the driver you want to install onto the server. Click Next et cetera. Watch the client driver install onto the server, over the network!
  6. Check it out the drivers on the server, Shared tab, Additional Drivers button. You’ll see one you need listed. You are done!
  7. If the New Driver method does not work, try doing approximately the same from within the Additional Drivers button; it works also, to add drivers to server from workstation, as long as you’re logged in as network admin.

Categories:   Printers & Printing   Servers