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auto printer installs in XP

Posted on 2010-08-26
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Last Modified: 2012-06-27
Some folks want to understand how to make "auto" printer installs show up on network computers.
Others want to understand how to prevent "auto" printer installs from showing up on network computers.
The answers seem to jump around and to include "workarounds".

I want to understand
- how it happens and
- how to prevent it and, in doing so, perhaps  
- how to assure it happens.
My notion at the moment is that it only happens for printers that are shared but I've not seen that mentioned very often in the Q&As that are around.

In general I find it confusing and annoying as people come to rely on something like the following:
- There is a network printer PRINTER; i.e. connected to the network directly.
- It is installed on alll computers
- On computer "Joe", someone marks PRINTER as "Shared".
- Then, the shared printer shows up as "Auto \\Joe PRINTER"  ..... something like that.. on some or all of the other computers.
Next, somebody marks one of these Auto printers as their computer's default.
Next, the sharing computer is turned off or taken out of service altogether.
Now, the default printer is missing for that unfortunate one ......
etc.

As I mentioned above, I'm not 100% sure that its sharing that causes this but that's my casual observation at this point.
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Question by:Fred Marshall
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by:vanillasprinkles
ID: 33537084
Seems like you have the concept down to me;
Printers on the network have to either be shared from another computer, or they are a network printer and seen as such on the network. The shared printer from another computer is often seen inside the computer name in the networking folder on xp, thus it can show multiple in there if the computer has multiple shared (exactly as you have mentioned with the "auto \\ joe printer" example.

Network printers have their own network interface, or a usb-to-ethernet interface that "shares" them across the LAN, usually easily accessible for any system to print to.

Sharing a printer happens typically when "file and printer sharing for microsoft networks" is enabled in a network card's device control/properties window, and gets added to a computer when somebody opens the add printer wizard, and select network printer and finds whatever printer and selects it. For installing a specific stand-alone (not a pc shared) printer, it is more effective to install the printer on whatever computer using its specific ip address and going from there.

Printers should not install by themselves if they are network devices, I would assume some sort of virus or somebody's script (that somehow got on my computer and ran) if any printer would auto install without me clicking on it or plugging it straight into the usb port.
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Author Comment

by:Fred Marshall
ID: 33537245
Printers on the network have to either be shared from another computer, or they are a network printer and seen as such on the network. The shared printer from another computer is often seen inside the computer name in the networking folder on xp, thus it can show multiple in there if the computer has multiple shared (exactly as you have mentioned with the "auto \\ joe printer" example.

Network printers have their own network interface, or a usb-to-ethernet interface that "shares" them across the LAN, usually easily accessible for any system to print to.
vanillasprinkles said and I respond at ***:
Sharing a printer happens typically when "file and printer sharing for microsoft networks" is enabled in a network card's device control/properties window, and gets added to a computer when somebody opens the add printer wizard, and select network printer and finds whatever printer and selects it. For installing a specific stand-alone (not a pc shared) printer, it is more effective to install the printer on whatever computer using its specific ip address and going from there.

***Agreed.  That's all the normal thing.

Printers should not install by themselves if they are network devices, I would assume some sort of virus or somebody's script (that somehow got on my computer and ran) if any printer would auto install without me clicking on it or plugging it straight into the usb port.Accept as Solution

***Agreed.  No script or virus here we must assume.

***The issue here are the "Auto" installed printers.  Here is an example:
"Auto HP DeskJet 1120C Letter on INTEL64"
This entry is in the Printers and Faxes window of a Windows XP system.
The printer listed is on a Windows 7 Pro system on the same network.
Nothing was done to make this item appear on the list.  In fact, the same XP system already has:
"HP DeskJet 1220C"
on the list and this computer is Shared on the XP side and *not* on the Win7 side!!
So, why does this type of entry show up at all?  How to prevent?  How to assure? See the original post.....
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by:vanillasprinkles
ID: 33538497
Wait, the Win7 machine has the 1220C printer installed to it via USB? and the WinXP machine has the printer in the "Printers and Faxes" in control panel? (or is it the other way around, this single USB printer plugged into the XP machine?)

I would assume that win7 has been setup with at a network profile that auto allows printers on the network to use its printer device, and somehow at sometime, the printer was selected by the XP machine.

Are you deleting the "Auto HP .." entry from your XP machine, and every reboot it reinstalls itself or?
Are you the only user and owner of the computer, and is it XP Home, Pro, ect?
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Expert Comment

by:FEOX
ID: 33540562
In Windows XP, network printers are automatically detected by default.  This setting can be disabled:

1. Open My Documents (or any folder)
2. Select the Tools menu and click on Folder Options...
3. Select the View tab
4. Uncheck Automatically search for network folders and printers.
5. Click on OK to close the Folder Options and save your settings.

If this settings is not changed, Windows XP would automatically install shared network printers and give it a name "Auto ... Printer".  Disabling this setting (my preferred setting) will stop Windows XP from auto installing these printers.  You can still install shared printers using the "Add a Printer" task link in the Printers and Faxes from the Control Panel (or from the Start Menu).

Hope this helps.
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Assisted Solution

by:FEOX
FEOX earned 500 total points
ID: 33540637
P.S.

Disabling the "Automatically search for network folders and printers" settiing will not remove the "Auto ... Printers" already installed on the networked computers.  You may have to delete them manually.  Disabling the setting merely stops Windows XP from installing new "Auto ... Printers" onto the networked computers.

Also, the above setting will affect My Network Places where shared folders automatically appear (which will eventually fill-up if users tend to share and unshare different folders).  With the settings disabled, you can use the "View workgroup computers" instead and click on the computer to view their shared folders.

It is your choice.
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Accepted Solution

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FEOX earned 500 total points
ID: 33540686
Here is a link with additional information:

http://support.microsoft.com/kb/320138

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Author Comment

by:Fred Marshall
ID: 33544846
To clarify for vanillasprinkles:

The 1120C is connected via parallel port to the XP system.
It's XP Home and I have full control of all the computers on the network.

I'll restate what I said earlier:

***The issue here are the "Auto" installed printers.  Here is an example:
"Auto HP DeskJet 1120C Letter on INTEL64" shows up on Windows XP Home system.
This entry is in the Printers and Faxes window of a Windows XP Home system.
The printer listed is on a Windows 7 Pro system on the same network as being a printer that's on the XP system.  (The XP system has it shared).  On Windows 7 it doesn't say "Auto"

Nothing was done to make this item appear on the list on the XP system.  In fact, the same XP system already has:
"HP DeskJet 1220C"
on the list and this computer is Shared on the XP side and *not* on the Win7 side!!
So, why does this type of entry show up at all?  How to prevent?  How to assure? See the original post.....
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Assisted Solution

by:FEOX
FEOX earned 500 total points
ID: 33547762
Have you disabled "Automatically search for network folders and printers" on the Folder Options?

In this way, even if Joe shared the printer that is directly connected to the network, the computer with this setting disabled will not "Auto" detect and "Auto" add this shared printer from Joe as "Auto \\Joe Printer."

This has to be done on all XP machines and any "Auto" printers should be removed from these machines to avoid confusion whether that share is available or not. Use "Add a Printer" instead to add the printers to these XP machines.

Also, if your network is on a domain, this can be disabled network wide using Group Policy settings.
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Author Closing Comment

by:Fred Marshall
ID: 33583435
Thank you!
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