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I'm losing network printer connections

Posted on 2010-11-30
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Last Modified: 2013-12-02
We have a network of about 20 clients running XP Pro with a server running SBS 2003.  Several clients act as printer servers.  The computer with the issue is mapped to 3 of these network printers.  As the day progresses, these 3 connections are lost.  I cannot just delete them and re-add them.  I have to delete all three of them, reboot the computer, then I can add them again and they work again... for awhile.  If I only delete one of them, then reboot, that is not good enough.  I have to delete all three.  It's NOT a network issue in general.  All this time I still have internet connection.  I still have communication via Outlook with our locally administered MSExchange email system.  I can still access the file server.   The common thread seems to be the printing.  All other PCs in the network can connect and stay connected to these printers.  On this particular PC, I can initially connect to these printers and they work OK.  But after a few hours, the connection breaks.  Other PCs can continue printing to these printers.  Also the troublesome PC IS ABLE to ping the PCs which are the servers for these printers.  But it cannot connect to the printers themselves until I reboot.  Of course I could set these printers up with their own node and IP.  But that is not the actual problem, since other PCs can print to them happily as they are.

Recently we had to clean out some malware, but that seemed to complete successfully.  But it was right after that process that these symptoms seemed to start.  We have Symantec Endpoint Protection.  There are NO risks showing in Symantec's log.

At this point I have done the following:
1. Run sfc /scannow..............  no issues indicated.
2. Run ccleaner
3. Run glary utilities.......  some registry issues that were repaired.
4. Run CHKDSK /F
In case their might be any issue with spyware or malware... I ran
5. Spybot S&D....... no issues found
6. MalwareByte's Antimalware
Also our Symantec log shows no risks.
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Question by:Josh Christie
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Expert Comment

by:Spike99
ID: 34244103
Are the printers offline on the PC/server they're shared off of or are they showing Offline only on the client PCs?

I've seen that behavior with Windows 2003 print servers because of a known issue with "legacy SNMP."  I don't know if it's an issue with XP, but it's really easy to test it.

Go to the printer's port properties and just un-check the SNMP option to disable it.  If the printer goes back online immediately after you disable SNMP, then you know that there's an issue with SNMP.  

There is a hotfix for the Windows 2003 issue with legacy SNMP, but I'm not sure if it would work for WinXP.  I looked and I didn't see an equivalent issue described for XP.  Here is the page for that hotfix:
     http://support.microsoft.com/kb/946198

Is SNMP enabled on the physical printers? Maybe if you tweak the SNMP settings, it will resolve the problem.

You also might want to try setting the print processor on the printers to WINPRINT/RAW.  That can also resolve issues communicating with printers (particularly with HP printers that use proprietary and often buggy print processors).

Alicia
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Author Comment

by:Josh Christie
ID: 34248442
Let's say the "PC/servers" that these 3 printers are "shared off of" are A, B and C.  Then let's say clients D, E and F want to use these shared printers.  Let's say D is the client with the issue.  The situation is this.  Printers served by A, B and C are all online.  Clients E and F can always consistently print with these 3 printers.  Client D can print to the 3 printers for awhile after bootup and having those printers add to D's list.  But after awhile D loses connection to these printers.  In the Printers and Faxes box, instead of saying "Ready", it will change to "Opening" and then to "Access denied".  Meanwhile, the printers are still online on A, B and C... and also clients E and F are still able to happily print to them.  Only D cannot.  

The server, running WinSBS2003, is printer server for yet another printer, call it Y.  On the server I am able to get into the "Configure Port" dialog box where I could enable or disable the SNMP option, which is current enabled.  But............  on the computers (clients) A, B and C, running XPPro, when I click "Configure Port" I get the message "An error occurred during port configuration.  This operation is not supported."  This happens even if I am logged in as Administrator.  However..........

In my opinion, the problem is NOT with the printer configuration seeing clients E and F are able to print happily.  I think the problem is with PC client D.

What is the procedure for setting the print processor to WINPRINT/RAW?  
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Accepted Solution

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BudDurland earned 500 total points
ID: 34273498
Check the NIC on the problem client, ad make sure the system isn't configured to power it off.

If you look in the error log of the problem computer are there any clues?  Perhaps the spool service is crashing (which implies a bad driver or perhaps a corrupt spool folder)
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Author Comment

by:Josh Christie
ID: 34282933
Regarding the NIC configuration, I assume you mean to look at properties of the NIC in Device Management.  Under Power Management there is a check box for ... "Allow the computer to turn off this device to save power."  Actually it is configured per attached.  A properly working client is configured the same.  Is this what you're referring to?   NICpwrMgt.pdf  But I do NOT think NIC configuration is the problem since the client can access MSExchange  email, the file server, and the Internet and also this ailing client is able to Ping the print servers even when it cannot actually print to their printers.

I'll check the error log.  Do you mean in Event Viewer > Application ? But I do NOT think the problem is the spool service seeing that the local printer is working.  The issue is only the network printers.  
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Assisted Solution

by:Josh Christie
Josh Christie earned 0 total points
ID: 34305709
Well, I believe I have found the problem.  It' sort of a "he said, she said" situation.  
BudDurland, on 12/4 you said, "If you look in the error log of the problem computer are there any clues?"  Well, I looked in the Event Viewer > Applications.  There were a number of errors of Autoenrollment failure.  I looked that up in some forums and one contributor mentioned the possibility that the DNS server's IP address might not be entered in the TCP/IP properties.  That turned on a light bulb.  I checked and, sure enough, it was not.  That's something I do when setting up the clients.  And I just have not had difficulty with losing that.  For this particular client I had had to do a rather major removal of malware and I think that's when this occurred.  Since this client has still been able to get on the internet, access the file server, and even the ping the offending printer servers, I did not suspect the DNS configuration.  So, while your statement, per se, was not the solution, it started me down a path that led to the solution.  Thanks
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Author Closing Comment

by:Josh Christie
ID: 34333033
I would have preferred to divide the points half and half between Bud and myself, but I cannot award points to myself.  Bud gave me a place to look which eventually led to my finding the solution, although it was rather indirect.
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