Add 32-bit drivers on 64-bit Windows Server 2008 R2

Cannot add 32 bit print drivers on Windows Server 2008 R2

This has been one of the most difficult issues that I have dealt with having been an administrator myself. Windows Server 2008 R2 is such a treat to have in one’s organization. But it starts to become a pain when you decide to make it your print server. Wait! Do not ditch your plans to upgrade you print server OS yet.  There is a work around, a very simple one though. But this is being done in different ways according to how stringent are your company’s security policies.

The scenario that I’m talking about here is when each time you try to add a 32 bit driver to your server, the server tries adding the printer driver and in the final stage it comes with a pop up window asking for “i386” files.


It certainly is looking for ntprint.inf files without which it cannot install the 32 bit drivers. All the happiness that I had of installing this OS had all gone down the drain, the moment I saw this pop up. I encountered this issue when we were trying to add the printer driver for a Xerox WorkCentre 5890 machine that we had in our work premises (I’m sure that you don’t encounter such issues with all the printer drivers).

I had gone through a lot of posts which had suggested that the 32 bit driver be added to a 32 bit workstation in the network and then have it pushed to the server. But this scenario was not going to work in my case because our organization had group policies enabled whereby sharing or pushing files from any workstation to another workstation or server was just out of the question. So I really had to look for a workaround.

That’s when I read somewhere in a Microsoft Technet blog where a lad had written a very simple method when a dozen of others had talked about a lot of other tricks and techniques. The trick is a simple one. On one of the 32 bit Windows 7 or Windows Vista workstations that you have in your network, copy the folder starting with the name “ntprint.inf_xxxxx” from the location C:\Windows\system32\DriverStore\FileRepository\ntptint.inf_xxxxx to any location of the server (Desktop of the server would be fine too) where you are trying to isntall the 32 bit printer driver. Once done, run the “Add Driver” again. The moment it asks for the i386 thingy, just click on “Browse” and point it to the location on the desktop where the folder was copied.

Alternatively if your company security policies allow you to share a folder from a workstation, you needn’t even copy these files to the server. You can just copy them to a different location on the same workstation and share it there. Go back to the server and reach the point where it asks for the ntprint.inf files and point it to this shared location. I haven’t tried this since our group policies never entertained such tricks.

There you go!! It installs cleanly without any hassle.

After having found this work around I had taken up a project whereby every branch server in our network had to be upgraded to Windows Server 2008 R2 and boy didn’t I have a great time? Yes, I did. Indeed!!

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