Differences between Windows Server 2000 and Windows Server 2003 Print Clusters and their Registry Structure

Windows 2000                        

In Windows 2000 Advanced Server and Windows 2000 Datacenter Server the major enhancement is that port information was moved to be stored in the Cluster registry and replicated to all nodes. Port monitors must be Cluster Aware to be supported on a cluster (where under Windows NT 4.0 all port monitor types were supported). All drivers are still stored in the local spool directory. Local and clustered print queues all share the same common drivers. Here’s a summary of the main differences:

  • Drivers must be manually installed on all nodes.

Driver information stored on the local node under HKLM\System\CurrentControlSet\Control\Print\Environments.

  • Ports are replicated to all nodes.

You no longer have to create locally defined printers on each node in the cluster to get the port configuration on each node. The port configuration is stored in the cluster registry and therefore shared between the cluster nodes. The printer driver files do not share between the nodes because of a restriction on the Server service (there must be unique share names on the computer/server cluster). When you install a printer driver on a cluster virtual server, it connects to the print$ share that is mapped to the WinDir\System32\Spool\Drivers folder of the resource-owning computer.

·         Print queues are replicated to all nodes

Port information is now stored in the cluster hive. \Printers, \Monitors and \Providers keys are present

  • Support for only Standard TCP/IP, LPR ports, and File ports


Windows Server 2003

In Windows Server 2003, Enterprise Edition, and Windows Server 2003, Datacenter Edition, the major enhancement is that printer drivers are replicated to all nodes in the cluster. In Windows Server 2003, managing and maintaining a clustered print server is as easy as a stand-alone print server. After initial configuration of cluster resources is complete, administrators just connect to the virtual server name and install printers and drivers as they would with any stand-alone server. Here’s a summary of the main differences:

  • Drivers are replicated to all nodes.

  • Ports are replicated to all nodes.

  • Print queues are replicated to all nodes.

Managing a clustered print server is just as easy as a stand-alone print server.  With the exception that all Port Monitors still need to be installed on each node.  Connect to \\VirtualServer\Printers & faxes and install the printer as you would a stand-alone print server, copies of the installed driver are stored on the shared cluster disk under \PrinterDrivers.  When the print spooler resource group fails over, it copies the required drivers from the \PrinterDrivers folder if necessary.

Comparison of available features:

Operating System




Windows 2000

Manual Synchronization

Automatic Replication

Automatic Replication

Windows Server 2003

Automatic Replication

Automatic Replication

Automatic Replication



Registry Structure of Windows Server 2003 Print Cluster



The registry structure is very similar to a standalone print server.  In Windows Server 2003 the cluster service now stores all printer and port information in the cluster registry. Windows NT 4.0 did not have the printer drivers or the port information in the cluster configuration and Windows 2000 had only the port information. All printer information is stored under the following registry key:

HKLM\Cluster\Resources\<Resource GUID>\Parameters

This key contains all of the keys that contain printer specific information. It also has the values that contain spool directory information and job completion timeout information.

HKLM\Cluster\Resources\<Resource GUID>\Parameters\Environments

This key contains the structure necessary for other Windows based print clients (such as Windows NT 4.0, Windows 2000 and IA64-based Windows Clients).

HKLM\Cluster\Resources\<Resource GUID>\Parameters\Monitors

This key is where the cluster will store any monitor information. Microsoft will only support the TCP/IP and LPR standard print monitors that ship with the operating system on a cluster. All of the information regarding the TCP/IP ports, such as the port address, name and SNMP information, is also stored here. This only has the port list no other values are used. All other monitor information is located in the local node key.

HKLM\Cluster\Resources\<Resource GUID>\Parameters\Printers

In this key all printer information is stored. The information is stored on a printer by printer basis. This information is exactly the same information that would get stored for a printer that was non-clustered in HKLM\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\Print key.

Comments (1)

  1. Mark says:

    I have a windows 2003 cluster and I have a proble with managing the the printers. The problem I have is this i can see the all the printer and i can manage them on node B by the share name and IP address. How ever when I go to the other node, Node A I can see all of the printers but I can not see the printers and faxes to manage the printers on Node A by the share name or IP. can you email me at mark.burke@ocfl.net with any solutions. Thanks!

Skip to main content