How to migrate your Windows Print Queues
“Help! I’m a Windows print server administrator and I want to copy all of my printers and drivers to a new Windows print server. What’s the fastest and best way to do this?”
Did you know that since Windows Server 2008, you can use Microsoft’s Print Management Console to take a backup of your print server or migrate all of your print queues, drivers, and most ports to a new server?
One “gotcha” to keep in mind is that this tool can only migrate certain types of printer ports like Standard TCP/IP or WSD ports. Unfortunately it cannot migrate local ports like nul or the PaperCut TCP/IP Port, so we’ve provided workarounds below. All things considered, this is still a handy way to save yourself hours when doing a Print Server migration or give yourself a backup plan when making major changes to your print server.
Open Print Management by pressing Windows key + R, then type printmanagement.msc and hit the enter key.
Click on Print Management, then select Action from the menu, then Migrate Printers…
Choose the option Export printer queues and printer drivers to a file, then simply follow the prompts.
Take that resulting file from the previous steps and copy it to your new print server.
Open Print Management on the new print server then navigate to Migrate Printers… like before.
This time choose Import printer queues and printer drivers to a file and choose the file that you exported from the old print server.
Test out printing from your new print server and then call it a day.
These ports can be migrated or backed-up without issue:
- Standard TCP/IP Ports
- WSD Ports
- COM1, LPT1 (since these already exist by default in Windows)
These ports cannot be migrated or backed-up automatically:
- Local ports like “nul”, often used for Find-Me Printing, will need to be created manually
- Ports that use 3rd-party port monitors like the PaperCut TCP/IP Port. If your print server is set up to use the PaperCut TCP/IP Port for Hardware Page Checking, you should know we’ve written a PowerShell script to help you automatically switch all your printers to a Standard TCP/IP Port and back again.
- You may want to power off your old print server then give the new one the same IP address and hostname as the old print server so that clients can continue printing.
- If you’re running PaperCut on your old print server, you’ll want to follow the steps in our Migrating PaperCut to a new server article to get PaperCut moved over to the new system.
- If you find that this process hangs or crashes, try setting the Print Driver Isolation mode to Shared. See: Fixing Print Spooler crashes.
Let us know! We love chatting about what’s going on under the hood. Feel free to leave a comment below or visit our Support Portal for further assistance.
Last updated December 20, 2022