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Error 6161 on a network printer for a single type of print job

A functioning, networked printer suddenly stops printing a single kind of document for all users.  All other printing to this specific printer works fine, but when a certain and specific type of Excel document is printed, the job fails and Windows Server 2003 records a 6161 error in the System Log:

"The document xxxxxx owned by xxxxxx failed to print on printer xxxxxx.  Data type: RAW.  Size of the spool file in bytes: 0.  [...] Win32 error code returned by the print processor: 0."

We stopped the print spooler and cleaned the spool directory but that did not correct the situation.  Any help on this issue would be appreciated.  
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james_axton
Asked:
james_axton
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2 Solutions
 
hdhondtCommented:
Nearly all spooler problems are caused by a faulty printer driver, and can be fixed by completely reinstalling that driver.

To do this, go to Printers & Faxes. First delete the printer. Then, from the File menu, select Server Properties. Click the Drivers tab and remove all instances of the printer from the list. Then reinstall from a CD or from a new downloaded driver copy.

If you are printing via a server then this must be done on the server, and then on the workstations.
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DansDadUKCommented:
It is presumably significant that the recorded error includes "Size of the spool file in bytes: 0".
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james_axtonAuthor Commented:
hbhondi - that didn't get it.  We downloaded new copies of the driver, deleted all old instances of the printer, then re-installed and updated the machines.  The problem persists.  Note also that this is NOT a problem with the file - it prints fine to every other printer.  What would cause this kind of activity to very suddenly start happening?

DansDadUK, does it tell you anything?
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DansDadUKCommented:
All that a spool size of zero implies is that the application (Excel in this case), in conjunction with the printer driver associated with the target printer, has failed to produce ANY output to send to the device.

As hdhondt points out, it is probably due to a driver fault; the fact that you've re-installed the driver doesn't eliminate this cause, since the fault may be present in all versions (i.e. an unresolved bug).

... but it could be a fault in the interaction between Excel and the driver.

... and it is obviously related to the format / content of this particular type of Excel document.

Do any of the problem documents print OK if printed to a different target printer (using a different printer driver)?
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hdhondtCommented:
You said you "deleted all old instances of the printer". Did you just delete them, or did you also remove them from the Drivers tab in Server Properties as I explained?
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DansDadUKCommented:
I asked "Do any of the problem documents print OK if printed to a different target printer (using a different printer driver)?".

I should have read your earlier response more carefully, as I see that you've already answered this question with "... is NOT a problem with the file - it prints fine to every other printer ...".

So the symptoms still point to a driver problem, as hdhondt originally surmised.
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james_axtonAuthor Commented:
hdhondt, here's what happened - we didn't note this in the original question, but we have quite a few of these little printers placed around the office and as such could not remove the entry (easily) from Server Properties without creating a hassle (delete the share, recreate it, go to each workstation, delete the printer, reconnect to it).  

It also needs to be noted that the files in question do not work on any printer of that model, further pointing towards a driver issue as you have both stated.  

Is it possible to just delete the printers from the server, adjust Server Properties, and then quickly recreate the print shares without going from desktop to desktop re-installing printers?  If so then that might work.
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hdhondtCommented:
Unfortunately, if you remove the driver from the server, the desktops will have to reinstall.

Here's what you could do to test the driver: on one of the PCs, install a *local* driver that prints direct to the printer's IP address. This can be a completely separate copy, installed fresh from the CD. of course this is on the assumption these are networked printers.

If that driver also fails, you can try a different driver for the printer, e.g. PostScript instead of PCL.

Then, when you have a working driver, bite the bullet and reinstall on the server, and the desktops
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james_axtonAuthor Commented:
The results were good - we did a local install, same IP of course, with different drivers (XP vs Server drivers), and the report prints.  Does this confirm what both of you have suspected?  That we're going to need to plan to blow all similar network print shares away, reinstall, and then go around to each machine and reinstall?
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hdhondtCommented:
It certainly implies you have a faulty driver. This might mean that the current driver is not fully compatible with Server 2003 or with Excel. More likely it means that the driver somehow got corrupted and a clean install should fix it.

The users will have to reinstall the drivers, but most users should be able to do that without assistance, if you send them an email explaining what needs to be done. A simple batch file using RUNDLL32 PRINTUI.DLL could delete the old driver and install the new one.

The install can be also automated via Group Policy. Of course, you would have to implement that. If you were planning to go that way, now would be a good time to do it but otherwise it's probably not worth the trouble.
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james_axtonAuthor Commented:
Thank you so much.  Let's close this and split the points!
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james_axtonAuthor Commented:
As an update, completely removing the driver and reinstalling from a download didn't correct the issue.  It then became more cost efficient to simply replace the printer.  That was the solution.
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