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Having intermittant network printing issues...

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?  
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PMilam
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PMilam
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2 Solutions
 
abenageCommented:
Can you print from the print server when your clients cannot?  

Is there plenty of disk space for the spooled jobs?
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PMilamAuthor Commented:
Yes, I can print from the print server even when the clients cannot.  I have 5.5 gigabyes free on my c: drive available.  I also noticed that there are not alot of jobs spooled (maybe 1 or 2) at any given time, so I don't think the printer server is saturated with traffic.
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masterbakerCommented:
Couple of things here...

First off, what service pack is this XP print server running?  Are you sure the Windows firewall is disabled?  I know the firewall question seems silly since things are working most of the time, but it could be confiured to allow printing traffic.  Just shut it off completely if it is on.

Another thing to check out is this link:
http://www.windowsdevcenter.com/pub/a/windows/2004/09/28/printer_problems.html

The key parts are in the service configuration (Recovery tab) and the "Everyone" section under "Who is Unable to Print".  As far as the service configuration goes, make sure it is set to "Restart the Service" for the first, second, and subsequent failures.  Also make sure it does so after 1 minute.  As for the second part, just check to see if those files are present as they may be causing the problem.

I'll see if I can come up with anything else...

Jeff

See if those files are clogging things up.
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PMilamAuthor Commented:
I'm running XP Professional Service Pack 2 on the print server.  I double checked to make sure the Windows Firewall is turned off.  I also made sure that there weren't any spooled files clogging things up.  i also changed the spooler service settings to reflect your suggestion.  Just FYI, I have checked the spooler service on the server when things fail and it always shows 'Started'.  I've tried stopping and re-starting the spooler service when things are down, but that doesn't help.  Only a full restart seems to help -- or just waiting.   Thanks for your help btw.
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masterbakerCommented:
How big of a pain would it be to uninstall Sp2 from this machine?  

This link has info on how to do this:
http://support.microsoft.com/kb/875350

If things worked before the upgrade then you might just want to stay at service pack 1 for now.  You might want to get a backup of this system before you try this though.  You never know what could happen, and I'd hate to have you lose your primary print server in the process.  If you have access to Norton/Symantec Ghost, you could grab an image of the machine before the removal.  Either that or make sure system restore is on and get a snapshot beforehand.

Jeff
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PMilamAuthor Commented:
I will try going back to Service Pack 1.  I have Ghost so that should help if things go awry.  It'll probably take a couple days before I get to it though since I can't bring the server down during working hours.  By all means though, if you or anyone comes up with some other suggestions, please feel free to post!

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kobebeCommented:
are the printers listed in the active directory?
sounds to me like the active directory for some reason lose connectiity to the printer server, a hing hat cause him to automatically delete the printers  from he ad, and once the printer server is "reconnecting" its republishing the priners in the active directory
the 2-3 minutes you wait is the time untill the folowing replication to the domain controller the other clients connecting to.

so basically whats my soltion you'r asking? good question :)
if what I said above is true and your printers are published in AD then he fact that the domain controler deltes your printers is the problem, that action is called "prune"
open GPO of the domain controllers and change the folowing key:
"Allow pruning of published printers" - Disabled
it should be in the path of:
Computer Configuration\Administrative Templates\Printers

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PMilamAuthor Commented:
I'm running on a Windows NT 4 domain server, so no Active Directory.  I do have a Win2000 Server as a small file server though.  But it does not have any printers installed on it and Active Directory is not set up on it.  Is there any way the Win2K machine could be causing a conflict?

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kobebeCommented:
hardly, I'm preety sure that the win2000 server wint take over the printers if you haven't told them too

I'm not sure if it was asked before, but are there any logs recorded on the server at the "crash" time?
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PMilamAuthor Commented:
Here's the application log from 11/15.  Does this help at all?

Information      11/15/2004      8:48:48 AM      ESENT      General       101      N/A      SERVER_HOU3
Information      11/15/2004      8:48:48 AM      ESENT      General       103      N/A      SERVER_HOU3
Error      11/15/2004      8:43:59 AM      AutoEnrollment      None      15      N/A      SERVER_HOU3
Information      11/15/2004      8:43:47 AM      ESENT      General       102      N/A      SERVER_HOU3
Information      11/15/2004      8:43:47 AM      ESENT      General       100      N/A      SERVER_HOU3
Information      11/15/2004      8:39:42 AM      ESENT      General       101      N/A      SERVER_HOU3
Information      11/15/2004      8:39:42 AM      ESENT      General       103      N/A      SERVER_HOU3
Information      11/15/2004      8:34:36 AM      ESENT      General       102      N/A      SERVER_HOU3
Information      11/15/2004      8:34:36 AM      ESENT      General       100      N/A      SERVER_HOU3
Information      11/15/2004      5:15:07 AM      McUpdate      None      4550      N/A      SERVER_HOU3
Information      11/15/2004      5:15:06 AM      McUpdate      None      4570      N/A      SERVER_HOU3
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PMilamAuthor Commented:
Oh, and no, no events in any log at the time that printing goes down.  Things don't seem to crash, they just stop working.  The spooler service says it's still running.  Stopping and starting the spooler service on the server or client(s) doesn't seem to help.
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kobebeCommented:
I'm preety freshed out
we had kind of sme problem with one of or servers, for no reason the server would seem to be stuck for few minutes, and then go back to function like nothing happend, ms released a fix to it 191950.
problem is the fix is only for windows 2000, can't tell you if theres a corresponding fix for xp systems
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PMilamAuthor Commented:
is that a hotfix 191950?
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PMilamAuthor Commented:
Ok, I figured it out.  I  switched the print server from DHCP to a static IP and everything has worked flawlessly for over a week.  Stupid mistake on my part -- I was experimenting one day and accidentally broke stuff.  
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