I have 50 Windows XP/2000 clients on a single Windows NT4 Server domain. We have a Windows XP Professional PC acting as the print server with 6 shared network printers -- no printers are physically attached to this machine. We also have a 'backup' Windows NT4 server print server that is not used very often (but some clients still are connected to this print server).
Things have been working fine just like this for over a year now. Within the past couple weeks (maybe since XP service pack?) my clients have been getting intermittant connectivity issues to the Windows XP print server. Now, every few hours or so, I get calls from my clients saying that the printers are offline or unavailable or something to that nature. Then after an estimated 5-10 minutes *without doing anything* they will start showing up as available and my users can print normally. I don't have to do anything to fix it -- BUT if I reboot the XP print server while things are down, printing will start working perfectly as soon the PC comes up. When things are down, the XP box says that all printers are working properly AND there may be 1 or 2 print jobs in the queue, but not alot. I thought I may have hit a 10+ user limit or something, but that doesn't seem to be the case?
***I tried pinging the network printers AND the XP print server from the clients when things are reported in an 'unavailable' or disconnected state.*** The ping is successfull and all clients can reach the XP print server and the network printers. They can also browse the network and reach all shares and the Internet. BUT if a user tries to add a printer using the Add Printer Wizard, the print server does not show any printers. The network printers are shared and have appropriate permission -- it's been working for over a year without changes. What is weird is that some of my users are connected to the network printers via the OLD Windows NT 4 box and they can print just fine and the printers show up as available -- even with the printers on the XP print server say 'disconnected'.
I looked at the event log on the print server, but it didn't show anything out of the ordinary (in my opinion). It shows all the print jobs, but no errors. This happens across different brands of shared printers on the XP machine (Xerox, Lexmark, HP), so I don't think it's a driver issue. I don't want to re-install drivers for 6 different printers in a wild-goose chase attempt at solving the problem. I'll do it if I have to, but I don't want to try that immediately.
Any ideas on how I can resolve this issue?