Printing from RDP session slow – print job file size growing to unexpected levels

One of the remote users we have is connecting to a local Windows XP computer in order to work with the software he’s using. Before you ask about Terminal Services running on the server, unfortunately this software is not compatible with 2008 and the support isn’t the greatest either, so that’t why this user is stuck with this solution.

Anyway, I recently got reports that the printing to the local printer from the remote session stopped working to an extent – it would work for 1 page Word documents, but when attempted to print a many page PDF file, it simply stopped working.

After some troubleshooting it has been discovered that the size of the print job that is being spooled in the printer queue is growing beyond imagination. For example a 20 page PDF file reached nearly 1 GIGABYTE in size, before it was stopped.

Not sure what have triggered this behavior, as the printing was working fine to a certain point – suspect updates –  but i started looking for a solution to this issue. As you can imagine, there are all sorts of issues going on with printing from RDP sessions, but none were anywhere near the specifics of this case. After a while i stumbled across this Microsoft KB article – The size of the EMF spool file may become very large when you print a document that contains lots of raster data. You can find more detailed information in that KB article.

Long story short, the advanced printer settings had to be changed to fix the problem. To do this, follow these steps:

  1. First make sure you are logged off from the remote computer – make sure you use Start -> Log off rather than just clicking on the X on the RDP client window.
  2. Open printers (Windows XP/2003 go to Start -> Settings -> Printers and Faxes; Windows Vista/7/2008 go to Start -> Devices and Printers)
  3. Right click the printer in question and select Properties for XP/2003/Vista or Printer Properties for all newer systems
  4. Select the Advanced tab and check that the Print directly to the printer option is selected
  5. Click OK to save settings
  6. Log in to the remote computer and follow steps 2-5 to check the settings are applied on the linked printer in the remote session as well

If you follow these steps, this issue should be resolved and printing should be back to normal.

In case you are still experiencing problems with printing from the remote session, the cause of your issues lies somewhere else and unfortunately you will need to keep on searching for the right solution for you.

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