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Internet Printing has been around since Windows 2000 and has been included in Windows Server versions since then. It provides another option for organizations to connect end users to printers. Since it uses the Internet Print Protocol over HTTP, businesses can conceivably make printers available from anywhere over the Internet without special connectivity.
Internet Printing also enables IT admins to manage and administer remote print jobs and printer properties over HTTP without using VPN, RDP, or other remote connectivity. What's more, the capabilities to enable Internet Printing are built into Windows Server. There are no additional downloads or software to install. Let's take a look at how to configure Internet Printing in Windows Server 2019 and the steps involved to enable it.
Requirements for Internet Printing
Internet Printing has a few requirements for consideration:
- Print and Document Services role
- Web Server (IIS) role
- Connected printer on the print server
- The printer must be shared using the standard shared printer functionality
- Firewall ingress rules for web connectivity
Configuring Internet Printing
Installing Windows Server Internet Printing is part of the Print and Document Services server role. In the Add Roles and Features Wizard in Windows Server 2019, select that role.
On the Features screen, select Internet Printing Client.
The Print and Document Services overview screen is displayed.
On the Role Services screen for Print and Document Services, select Internet Printing.
It will automatically prompt you to add the required features needed for Internet Printing.
The Internet Printing role service is added successfully.
Next, you will see an overview of the Web Server Role (IIS). The Web Server Role (IIS) is how Internet Printing is made possible. The installation will install a special website in IIS that handles communication with the installed printers on the Windows Server with Internet Printing installed.
Accept the defaults for the Web Server Role (IIS), or make any needed changes to align with the requirements of your environment.
Finally, confirm the selections for the Internet Printing features and click Install. You can choose to restart your server if needed. However, unless you add roles or other features that require a reboot, the Internet Printing feature does not need to reboot the server.
The Internet Printing role service is installed successfully.
If you launch the Internet Information Services (IIS) Manager, you will see the Default Web Site with the Printers virtual directory configured by default.
Setting up a printer for Internet Printing
You might assume there is a particular way to configure a printer for Internet Printing. However, any printer you share using the standard print-sharing features in Windows Server is exposed to the Internet Printing site for end users to connect. It will rely on the permissions set up in the Security tab of the shared printer to determine which users can connect.
In the screen capture below, an HP LaserJet printer is shared using the standard Share this printer option in the printer's properties.
Accessing the IIS Printers management site
Once you have configured a shared printer, it will be listed on the Internet Printing IIS site. How do you access the site? Intuitively, to access the Internet Printing site found in the IIS Default Site, you navigate to the IP address or FQDN of the IPP Windows Server with the virtual directory /printers (i.e., http://<your server>/printers).
After navigating to the server with the /printers virtual directory, we see the shared printer listed below.
Under the properties link for the printer, you can easily see the Network Name used to connect to the printer. In addition, you will see the normal printer actions that IT admins and others with the appropriate permissions can access.
We can connect a Windows client to the network name using the Internet Printing Protocol (IPP).
Connecting to a printer on a Windows client with Internet Printing
On a Windows client computer (Windows 10 pictured below), use the network name displayed in the printer's properties on the Internet Printing IIS site. You can connect by using the Select a shared printer by name option and entering the network name.
Users will get the login prompt for the credentials needed to authenticate to the IPP shared printer.
If you don't have additional drivers automatically configured for installation, install the driver needed for the shared printer.
The printer will be connected and installed successfully over HTTP using the Internet Printing Protocol (IPP).
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Internet Printing is another way businesses can allow end users to connect to printers over HTTP while working remotely. Configuration is straightforward. Since Internet Printing is included in Windows Server by default, there are no additional downloads or software to install. It provides another option for organizations that do not want to shift printing services to the cloud or manage special network connectivity, such as VPNs, simply for print services.