A print server with 4,000 printers installed

Note: Print Distributor has now been discontinued.

15 October 2010

We get quite a few questions about scaling Print Distributor, usually asking how many printers or users it will support. Recently one prospective customer told me they wanted to setup 3,500 printers on a single server. Although there are no inherent limits in Print Distributor I thought it would be a useful exercise to setup a server with a huge number of printers.

Obviously I didn’t want to manually configure so many devices, fortunately Print Distributor 5 has a backup and restore capability which I could use. I created a simple application with a single virtual printer and wrote a Ruby script to expand that out to 4000 printers, I used the names of the top 4,000 US cities by population for the printer names.

The first restore started well but seemed to slow up for every new printer added, we made a small adjustment to the restore code and all was well. It took Print Distributor about an hour to create all the printers. The application is pretty simple, it just sends a print job from one printer to the next until it has worked around the whole group.

There are still questions for customers with such a large number of printers, particularly in terms of scaling. The print server writes spool files to disk, sometimes these files can be large. What I am happy about is Print Distributor is able to cope with such a large configuration without difficulty.