Local Printing Using Remote Desktop

Trouble Local Printing Using Remote Desktop?

Windows 7 sometimes has issues with printing to a local printer using a Remote Desktop Connection (RDC).

The 1st step is to verify that printers are checked on the Local Resources tab of the Remote Desktop Connection. It is checked by default.

Local Printing Using Remote Desktop – Install the Same Driver

RDC local resources - local printing using remote desktop
Local Resources – RDC

If you have the same printer model  at home as one at the office then Windows may be confused. It’s best if you install the same printer driver for office & home. The best bet is to check the manufacturer’s website for a driver that fits all of the Operating  Systems involved.

Example:

Scenario – Home & Office both have Gestetner P7325N printers. Office Print Server is 2003 Standard while the connecting remote PC & the Office PC is Windows 7.

Gestetner P7325N – Manufacturer Drivers

Common driver for most Operating Systems – PCL Mini Driver 2.16

32 bit Operating System/64 bit Operating System

32 bit & 64 bit machines may also complicate the process. If necessary install the driver 32 bit O/S on a 32 bit machine & the 64 bit driver on a 64 bit machine. Share both printers & PCs can then choose a matching printer.

You can ascertain if your PC is 64 bit by right clicking “My Computer” and selecting properties. In the System section you will see “64-bit Operating System” or something similar if it’s 64-bit. 32-bit Operating Systems may just list the Operating System without denoting it as 32-bit.

Add Printer Wizard

Also check to see if you can add a local printer on the remote PC.

Run the Add Printer Wizard for “Local Printer” & find any printer that has the PC Name attached to it. It may not look remotely like the printer you are searching for but there probably won’t be a lot of choices.

 

How Remote Desktop Connections Make You a Better Worker

How remote desktop connections make you a better worker.

Using a remote desktop connection lets you effectively get to work faster and address the situation ASAP.

Creating Remote Desktop Connections

Remote Desktop Connections allow you to remotely control host machines via the magic of the Internet and RDP (Remote Desktop Protocol).

For the purposes of this article we will assume you are connecting from your home PC or laptop to a remote office (remote host). This means that we will need access to the router at the office. 

Hypothetical Remote Host:

FQDN  – mymail.somecollege.edu
the default port for RDP 3389
no VPN (Virtual Private Network)
static IP
connect to a host on the WAN (WAN – Wide Area Network)


Typically we would ping the FQDN to make sure the IP is valid. Since this is a non-existent machine that won’t work so we’ll pretend it translates to a usable IP.

Remote Desktop Connections Home or Work

If we wanted to control our PC from work then our PC at home would be the remote host and we would need to access the router at home.

If your PC or laptop is connected to the host’s LAN then you could possibly access host via a private IP on your (e.g., 192.168.x.x or 10.x.x.x,). Private IPs are not routable so only work on the LAN.


Setup PC or Laptop

When we setup Remote Desktop Connections  we need the IP address or fully qualified domain name (FQDN) of the host. You can usually find your public ip by visiting a site like WhatsMyIp.

You can get to the Remote Desktop Connection (RDC) program by clicking Start and typing “Remote Desktop Connection”. You won’t have to type more than a few letters before you will see the program.  

Once you have the RDC window open you can enter the FQDN or the public ip of the PC in the Computer field. 

I prefer to save my connections for future use by clicking Show Options. This will allow you to save the User Name and credentials. If this is a shared machine then you should click “Always ask for credentials“.

Setup Remote Host Machine

The host has to be prepared for this remote connection so we have to enable remote control. You get to Remote Settings by right clicking My Computer and selecting Properties. Allowing Remote Control of your PC opens the RDP port in the Windows Firewall for you.

We will give our host machine a static ip of 192.168.1.100 so it can be found by our router when we connect via RDP. Typically machines use DHCP to get the private IP gateway, DNS, and other network information. If you run ipconfig from a CMD prompt you will see the information you need to setup a static IP.

If you have a software firewall like Zone Alarm you will have to allow the incoming IP or block of IPs. This can be a problem if you connect from many places or your IP changes often. If that’s the case a remote control application like TeamViewer will be much easier to setup.

Setup Router on Host’s LAN

OK, the host is setup and you have an RDC connection. The final piece of the puzzle is to add the router NAT  (Network Address Translation). The router is the gateway to the Internet at large. The public IP of our entity mymail.somecollege.edu is probably the same IP as the gateway. 

When the RDC connection connects to the public IP it’s up to the router or a VPN to find the host machine. In our case, it’s the router that will determine where this host is. The location of the settings vary but it usually something like “Port Forwarding”. The router will also determine if only your home IP is allowed to make this connection or if it’s open to the public. Strong passwords will help secure the connection if the host is open to the public.

For RDP, the protocol used by Remote Desktop Connections, we need to forward traffic to  the private IP of our host using port 3389. If we specified a port in our connection then this port would have to be forwarded to the private IP of our host and change the port to 3389.

Example:

RDC using default port 3389
mymail.somecollege.edu –> forwards traffic to port  3389 to port 3389 on the host machineRDC using port 3390
mymail.somecollege.edu:3390 –> forwards traffic to port 3390 to port 3389 on the host machine


It’s also possible to hack the registry port for the specific machine for RDP but most routers handle this for you.

In Conclusion

You really are a better worker using remot desktop connections so it’s worth the effort to get them working.

Note: There are alternatives like Teamviewer and LogMeIn which are easier to use but can be costly.

Teamviewer is free for personal use.

How Missing Network Shares Made Me a Better Consultant

Speed Internet

Network Shares – How to Troubleshoot

How Missing Network Shares Made Me a Better Consultant by forcing me to understand my client’s network better.

It seems you can’t fix a network problem without understanding the details of it.  Go Figure.

Usually, shares are where we want them for our users and we tend to take them for granted. There are times, however, when those shares may disappear causing difficulty for your users.

Troubleshoot Missing Network Shares

One of the first things to try is searching for files that should be on that share. You have to look for current files if these are being updated on a regular basis. In some cases you may find files that are the predecessor of those on the share.


Different Letters Assigned To The Drives


One possibility is that the server may have booted up and assigned different letters to the drives. We can use Computer Management to view disks, partitions, status &  assigned drive letters using an administrator account. You can get to Computer management via Start, right click Computer, & select Manage. In the Computer Management window you will find Disk Management under Storage. Hopefully, the drive you are looking for is showing as healthy. 

If the drive letter is wrong you can assign an available letter by right clicking on the partition and selecting “Change Drive Letter and Path“. If the drive letter has already been assigned by another partition you will need to free it up by re-assigning the partition in question.

Devices Moved Recently – External Drive Or RAID May Not Be Connected Properly



If devices have been moved recently then it’s possible something got connected incorrectly. Search every drive you have connected and make sure you can account for all physical and virtual drives. If you find a missing drive ensure that it is powered up and connected properly. Some external RAID enclosures drives may have multiple connections (e.g., eSATA, USB). 

The connections may not be obvious with devices like RAID enclosures with no visible model numbers . A RAID Manager Program can be useful in identifying the unit . You can probably locate a user manual once you have the model number. If not you may need to contact the vendor.

External Drive Or RAID Powered Off Incorrectly – I Powered It Off



Most of these shared devices should be disconnected gracefully using Windows Safely Remove Hardware to prevent losing data and shares.

Powering off a shared RAID  or external drive without safely removing 1st may lose sharing information, permissions, and data. 

Administrators Added Shares To Fix Problem



If you are not the 1st administrator to work on the problem things can be even more complicated. Perhaps another administrator added shares. It can be confusing to see the share and not find your current files. If you see only old files then this share is either the wrong partition or the current files got wiped out. Finding the backup job may give you a clue as to which has happened.

If you have good backups that store multiple versions of your files then restoring missing files shouldn’t be that difficult. If you have a backup that simply copies the shares on a nightly basis to another disk then it won’t be much help in this situation.

Additions To Your Network – Multiple Administrators



If there have been additions to your network then server names may have changed to accommodate new arrivals. If the server name changed then you may need to remap the shares with the new server name.

Drives & RAID  Connected To New Server – Files Found – Multiple Administrators



If there are multiple servers the drives & RAID may not be connected to the original server. If your device appears to be on the new server check that the device shows up in Disk Management and that the files are in place. If the files are OK then you may need to re-map your shares accordingly.

The alternative is to move the drives & RAID connected to the original server.

Drives & RAID  Connected To New Server – Files Not Found – Multiple Administrators



If your device appears to be on the new server check that the device shows up in Disk Management and that the files are in place. If not then you should check the connections and consider moving it back to the original server. A RAID Manager Program with no RAID or vice versa may indicate a mismatch. Perhaps the last administrator had plans to move the missing device to a new server but didn’t install the software.  RAID enclosures typically need software so look for the manager program.  

Much can go wrong with multiple administrators making changes. If possible contact the previous administrator to find out what has been done. Usually you want to reverse the last steps that were performed before the device quit working.

In Conclusion

It’s a pain to work throug h network issues but in the long run you are a better consultant having been through the ordeal.

 

Multiple Networks – Combining

Need to combine multiple networks?

Network – Router – Windows 8 – Mac – Printers

Combining Multiple Networks

Combining Multiple Networks
Combining Multiple Networks

Combining Multiple Networks can be tricky. Perhaps you had everything on the same network and replaced or introduced new hardware.

 

Let’s say that you have a small network with printers, PCs, Macs, connected via a switch to your Internet Service Provider’s,  (ISP‘s) router/modem. This is not the best network design but it’s common for home and small offices. For the most part this network will work OK but you lose some security & versatility by using the ISP provided router/modem.

If our router/modem fails in the above scenario you will typically call your ISP to provide another router/modem. Since they are not likely to configure the router/modem you may end up with a new network. Let’s say that they switched you from the LAN of 192.168.0.1 to 192.168.1.1.

Since you are now on a new network anything with a static ip won’t work. DHCP devices should be fine. There are several alternatives to fix the new network:

Change the router subnets.

Network Router
Technicians connecting network cable.

While this is the simplest change there may be issues that you don’t foresee and you won’t get a lot of help from the ISP. This also requires you to have the credentials. Typically you can find these on the router itself unless it’s been changed. Even if it has you can use a reset.

You may find yourself stranded from the router if you are connecting through the existing network. That’s one reason you need a direct connection to the router. All in all this simple change may be the most intimidating.

Change the Printers with static ips

Printers typically are assigned static ips which are outside the scope of DHCP. This prevents a conflicting ip from showing up on your network. In general printer ips are not that difficult to change through the menu. In some cases, you may need credentials to make the changes.

You will need to update the ip on the ports of printers or just remove & add the printer. The latter is the best method since it will force the computer to download the driver.

You may also need to calibrate your printer to make sure image quality is OK.

Windows 8

Windows 8
Windows 8

Windows 8 adds another obstacle to making changes. For starters there’s no start bar. You can swipe from right edge and search for Printer or Control Panel.

You can use the Charm bar (position mouse in the top or bottom right corners of the screen or Windows C) to search. An easier method is to right-click to get the lower left corner of the screen. This opens the Quick Access Menu. Likewise Windows “i” opens another Charm Bar Settings with the Control Panel.

Once you get into the printer properties changing the printers is much the same as in Windows 7. It’s probably best to just remove the printer and add it back with the new ip.

MAC

Macs make things easy but it’s not always apparent that you are getting the results you want. Once your printers are up and running on the new ip it’s simple enough to go to any print menu and add the printer.

The preferred method is to delete the printer from the Print Center (/Applications/Utilities/) and then add the printer with the new ip.

Testing

You will want to print a test page from all workstations and check the print quality. Look closely since some issues may clip the print and/or use too wide a margin.

 

Network Router

Every business needs a network router for protection and stability.

Types of Internet Connections for Network Router

While the DSL/cable modems have switches it’s not the best device to hook your business into. Home networks may benefit from a router as well.

T1 connections typically don’t have switches built into the CSU/DSU. While it’s easy to add a switch that’s not the preferred method.

Domains – DNS

If you are connecting a domain you want to use a domain controller to provide your DNS. You may find that difficult with a modem.

The rest of this article is primarily geared to installing a router for a small domain with a single server and a modem (DSL/cable). Even so parts will be relevant to a T1 installation.

Finding a Router

Finding a suitable router 1st on our list. Typically I check with Cisco & give them my specifications about the number of users and features needed. They point me to a particular model and then I do some research on the router & prices.

Installing a router

Installing a router is pretty straight forward but there are a few things you may have to set manually. To start you should shut down all the PCs and server connected to the router and associated switches. Then shut down the modem.

Power on the modem and let all the LEDs settle down. Most will be solid on.

network router - cisco_valetplus_4Install Software

At this point you may have software that you need to run on the router. Typically this tells you how to make the connections. Just make sure that the modem has been powered off before you start the software. It’s also a good idea to connect a PC or laptop to a switch port on the router at this juncture.

Connections

Connect the network cable from the router Internet port to a switch port on the modem. Power up the router. If you have software setting up the router just let it do its magic.

You can connect your PCs to the router switch ports or add another switch by simply connecting a network cable between a port on the router & the switch. It should not matter which switch port you use on either device. If you are adding this to a domain then the router will need primary DNS to come from your server (local ip).

Lastly you power up your PCs. Everything should come on-line. If it doesn’t cycle power off & back on from the modem, router & PCs in that order.