Using Group Policy to Isolate Faulty Printer Drivers

As we have seen in a previous post – Printer Driver Isolation, Microsoft introduced a new feature in Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 systems that allows users to isolate unstable printers’ drivers, and in the above mentioned post we have seen how to use this feature using the Print Management snap-in. In this post we will see how to enable the same feature using Local Group Policy in Windows 7.

There are two new policy settings about Printer Driver Isolation in Windows 7 and these can be accessed as follows:

  1. Open the Local Group Policy Editor snap-in by typing gpedit.msc in the Start search text box and press enter.
  2. Go to Computer Configuration\Administrative Templates\Printers\Execute print drivers in isolated processes – This policy setting determines whether the print spooler will execute print drivers in an isolated or separate process. When print drivers are loaded in an isolated process (or isolated processes), a print driver failure will not cause the print spooler service to fail.
  3. Go to Computer Configuration\Administrative Templates\Printers\Override print driver compatibility execution setting reported by print driver – This policy setting determines whether the print spooler will override the Driver Isolation compatibility reported by the print driver. This enables executing print drivers in an isolated process, even if the driver does not report compatibility. This means that that the print spooler will attempt to execute the driver in isolated mode regardless of the DriverIsolation entry in the driver’s .inf file!

Note that, there may be other driver or system policy settings which may alter how the print driver is executed. This policy setting applies only to print drivers loaded by the print spooler. Print drivers loaded by applications are not affected. Also, this policy setting takes effect without restarting the print spooler service.