Installing printers and other settings as another user?
May 9, 2005 4:56 PM   Subscribe

I administer windows (2000, XP) machines for my workplace, but have not been able to figure out how to install printers, or related settings (Outlook profiles) as another user. Is there any way to avoid having the user have to install some things his/herself or similar painful solutions like asking for their login information?

I would prefer to not have to ask the user to log in just so I can punch in his/her mail settings, install printers, etc.--but there is no way I can avoid this as far as I can tell. Ideally, an administrator (we still use domain-based authentication) would be able to do these things for another user without requiring their login information. I do know that most programs, when installed by an administrator, install for all users. This is helpful, but no the whole solution.

Though I generally can handle this work, my primary job responsibilities are not in support (though I am the primary support guy--see where this is heading?) so solutions are preferably quick and easy.
posted by RikiTikiTavi to Computers & Internet (3 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Best answer: You could always try roaming profiles. Once setup for the user, each machine they login to (that's part of the domain) uses the user profile settings stored on a network server instead of local profile information.

Depending on the number of machines, this may be the best route to go. Play around with it a lot prior to implementation. This may require some changes to your standard desktop image (assuming you are using images for desktop deployment) and/or permissions and organizational layout on your network storage appliances.

With a lot of users and limited storage this may not be the most practical approach, and having personally used it in the past, if it is not structured properly it can really, really blow-up in your face.

You could also look into the User State Migration Tool for individual deployments if the number of users is manageable. This requires the machines to be setup at some time in the past by the user (or currently) but it should allow easier migration to new operating systems (I believe the tool is backwards compatible) or simple machine re-builds or new images.

My personal choice, however, and one that I believe gives the most flexibility from the administrative standpoint is login scripts through Active Directory group policy. If you already know some scripting languages (VBScript, Javascript, Perl, etc.) or even some full blown compiled languages, then this should not be that difficult (depending on your AD structure and office needs). You could setup some standard computer account naming conventions that correspond to specific printer names and each time a user logs in that that specific computer, they are mapped to a specified printer. You could point My Documents to a network folder (a specified home directory in the user profile for instance) so that all documents are stored (by default) to a network storage location and specify in a use policy that any user that saves/installs to an alternate folder stands the risk of losing said data. Finally, you could simply copy mail settings from a local profile to a network storage space (preferably, the user home directory as specified in their AD user profile) and have it restored to the machine each time a user logs in (a poor man's roaming profile) through a simply file copy process.

Hope this helps. Here's some links regarding login scripts and some helpful sites for script development etc.
posted by purephase at 5:27 PM on May 9, 2005

One other suggestion, assuming that different people logging into the same machine will need the same printer. My office structure means that this is usually one networked printer per two person office. We use a very simple vbscript in the start up to connect to and set as default the appropriate network printer.

There is some setup involved of course, but really, it isn't too hard. Oh, and I am no colleague is...I get the ideas, he helps me implement! Email is in my profile if you want a copy.
posted by Richat at 7:39 PM on May 9, 2005

Best answer: Accessing another user's account without logging in to that account would violate basic security principles. I do what you do and I know how frustrating it is.

We here use logon scripts for drive mapping. We use policy for software installs. For email (we use exchange/outlook) we have the install use the %username% variable and the like so it is automatically configured for whichever user logs in. For printers, and this is the hard part, we teach the users how to connect to shares.

With printers, there are two routes as I see it. Each has it's strengths and weaknesses with different users. There's the AD route: make sure you have printer names and office locations filled out and clearly understood. This method is best for those users who can work through menus.

Then there is the Start | Run | \\servername route. This is the one I teach to users who think that computers are too hard to use or are out to get them. This is the type of user who will write down every little thing you say. I tell them that this is the secret backdoor. Of course, this will list *all* shares on that server, not just printers. They seem to handle this okay since printers have that cute little printer icon. If you do this, really play it up. Show them the first way and let them think you are holding out on them. Then give in a little and tell that that they really shouldn't do it this way, but... They'll be double-clicking the printers in no time. Remember, running a network is about playing with computers and setting up people. After all, if it weren't for users, the job would only take a week.
posted by kc0dxh at 8:05 AM on May 10, 2005

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