Adding 32-bit Print Drivers to a 64-bit Windows 2008 R2 Server

General — Jeff Eske on September 3, 2010 at 8:29 am

I have a new server that’s serving as a quasi-printer server and it’s running Windows 2008 R2.  The problem is that the server is 64-bit, so when I setup the printers on there and share them, it only has the 64-bit drivers to offer to the client machines.  I need it to be able to have the 32-bit drivers available for the client machines.   I did some searching and found a few different methods for adding the 32-bit drivers, but what’s described below worked for me.  The most important thing to realize, no matter what method you use, the driver names need to match exactly or it won’t work. Did you catch that? The names have to match exactly. I tried a couple of times, without success, before I realized that the names weren’t EXACT.  The 32-bit name had an extra space in it.  Anyway, to add the drivers:

1. Download and extract the 32-bit drivers on your local desktop machine.  Mine were HP printers, so I went out to HP and found the appropriate drivers and downloaded and extracted them.

2. Connect to the Printers and Faxes share on the server, using admin-level credentials.  I’m on XP, so I used the RUN command and typed in: \\servername to bring up the server’s shares, then double-clicked on the Printers and Faxes folder.

3. Look through the list of shared printers and note the exact name that it shows for the 64-bit printer drivers that it’s using.  You’ll need to double-check your 32-bit drivers to make sure that they end up with the exact same name. To do that:

On your local machine, go in to the folder that you expanded the printer install files into and check the individual .inf files for each driver to verify that the driver name listed in the file matches exactly with the 64-bit name on the server.  The .inf files are simple text files, so you should be able to open them with Notepad or a similar editor.  DON’T use Wordpad!  Wordpad could very possibly add extra trash to the file that may mess it up.  On mine, both names were off slightly.  The 64-bit version was “HP LaserJet 4250 PCL6” and the 32-bit was “HP LaserJet 4250 PCL 6”.  They’re the same, except for the space between the L and the 6.  The first couple of times I tried using it, it didn’t work.  It still said that the driver wasn’t available.  After I looked closer and saw that pesky space and removed it, it worked perfectly.

4.  After you’ve ensured that your 32-bit printer driver names are correct in the .inf files, go back to your server’s Printer and Faxes share window.

5. While on that window, click on File > Server Properties.  This should bring up a popup.   Click on the third tab, the Drivers tab.  This should give you a list of the currently installed drivers, along with a row of buttons below that.

6.  Click on the Add button, and it will start the Add Printer Wizard.  Since you’ve already modified the .inf files to be correct, you should be good-to-go.  After you walk through the wizard, you should have the 32-bit drivers listed, along with the 64-bit drivers.  They should have exactly the same name.

7. To test it, try adding one of the shared printers to a client machine.  If it errors out and says that the driver isn’t available, then the names probably aren’t an exact match.

UPDATE 8-6-2012:  I added a little clarity on where to go to double-check the printer names within the .inf file.

Jeff Eske

3 Comments

  1. How did you remove the space between PCL and 6?

    Comment by Prajesh — August 6, 2012 @ 12:30 pm
  2. Prajesh,

    On XP, you will need to go into the folder where you extracted the printer install files to and you should see some .inf files listed there. Find the appropriate one for the printer that you’re installing and open it with Notepad (NOT Wordpad). Within that file, you’ll see the printer names listed – something like “HP LaserJet 4/4M PS” = HP4M6_V1.PPD.XP ,HPHP_LaserJet_4/4M_P355A,HP_LaserJet_4/4M_PS The first part, in the double quotes, should be the part that needs to match up. You’ll just need to remove the space and save the file. Then, you should be able to run the printer install again.

    Jeff

    Comment by Jeff Eske — August 6, 2012 @ 2:48 pm
  3. Ran into this problem today, thanks for the tip!

    The real question is why hasn’t HP issue and update to one of the drivers with a corrected .ini file?

    Comment by AR — October 16, 2012 @ 11:52 am

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