Taking extra steps to remove stubborn Windows XP printer problems

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How to solve seemingly unsolvable printer issues.

Users sometimes run into printing issues where all the normal steps do not seem to work. Well the steps below can show users how to take one extra step beyond the normal steps needed to remove old printers.

Users first remove any stuck print jobs waiting in the printer queue--they may have to stop and restart the Print Spooler service to remove these old print jobs. The users then will then be able delete the printer/ printer driver by clicking on it and pressing the delete button...then they can reinstall the printer/printer driver the normal way.

Tech note:
To properly remove a printer driver from the workstation; open the Printers and Faxes box; delete the problem printer;  then, from the Printers and Faxes box, click File then click Server Properties to bring up the Print Server properties box. From here, click the Drivers tab to see the list of installed printer drivers. Highlight the printer driver or drivers you want to delete and click the Remove button.

If the user cannot remove the printer this way, i.e., cannot delete it( and the user is using an computer Administrator account) the user can try stopping and restarting the Print Spooler service. After doing this try deleting the printer driver again( sometimes it requires a reboot).

Now, if the previous steps do not resolve the printing issue; there is still something else the user can try. First, re-perform the previous removal steps, then perform these additional steps.

Look in the following folder:

In this folder, are drivers from some or all of the computer's printers including printer drivers for Adobe Acrobat etc. This is the trick: only remove the drivers for the printer causing problems.

To do this:
Create a temp folder and move everything* out of this folder to this temp folder.
*the instructions are to move the contents of the C:\WINDOWS\system32\spool\drivers\w32x86
folder. (Do not move this actual folder, i.e., do not move the w32x86 folder. The Print Spooler service might need to be stopped and restarted--or even booting into safe mode to remove them--to get the files moved to the temp folder). After this, reinstall the problem printer driver.

Now, here's the trick, move everything from the created temp folder back into the "C:\WINDOWS\system32\spool\drivers\w32x86" folder--EXCEPT, do NOT choose to overwrite any existing files. What this step does is to make sure that the problem printer's files get replaced with the new files; and all the other existing printer files( for your other printers, Adobe Acrobat, etc) get returned to their original location.

Hope this info helps!
1 Comment
LVL 18

Expert Comment

by:Ravi Agrawal
Good one,

Extremely helpful.

Voted Yes.


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