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Troubleshooting common printing problems

Updated: January 21, 2005

Applies To: Windows Server 2003, Windows Server 2003 R2, Windows Server 2003 with SP1, Windows Server 2003 with SP2

 

Troubleshooting common printing problems

What problem are you having?

A printer connected to a computer does not print.

Cause: A problem might exist with the physical printer, the print driver, a print server, or the application you are trying to print from.

Solution: Try the following steps to identify and solve the problem.

  • Verify the physical printer is in ready state, and that the correct default printer is set.

  • Try to print a test page.

  • Try printing from the command line (on non-PostScript printers only). Type Dir > LPT1 at the command prompt.

  • Try printing from Notepad. This verifies that the printer driver is correct, and confirms that the problem lies with the application. If you cannot print from Notepad, the problem lies with the printer driver.

  • Check the available disk space on the system drive. If there is not enough room to spool the job, larger jobs might fail where smaller jobs do not.

A printer connected to the network does not print.

Cause: A problem might exist with the physical printer, the logical printer setting on the client computer, the application you are trying to print from, network protocols, or hardware.

Solution: Try the following to isolate and solve the problem:

  • Verify basic network connectivity. Check user rights, protocols, share names, and so on to determine whether you can see the server. Try to copy a file to the server; if you cannot access the server, you might not be able to access the printer.

  • On the Advanced tab, make sure the printer availability time is correct.

  • Create a local printer and redirect the port to the network server. Using the Add Printer Wizard, click Local, and then type the server and printer name for the printer (\\servername\printername). This determines whether you can copy files from the print server.

  • Check the available disk space on the print server. If there is not enough room to spool the job, larger jobs might fail where smaller jobs do not.

Printing from an Outlook client with multiple languages is slow.

Cause: Multiple languages are installed on the client computer, but not on the print server computer.

Solution: If clients use additional languages on their computers, you need to add these languages to print server.

Users on Windows 95 or Windows 98 cannot connect to a printer.

Cause: Print drivers for Windows 95 and Windows 98 are not the same as for the Windows Server 2003 family, and are not installed on the print server.

Solution: Make sure the user has Print permission, and make sure the proper printer driver is installed on the print server for that operating system.

Users on Windows 95 or Windows 98 cannot connect to a printer.

Cause: Print drivers for Windows 95 and Windows 98 are not the same as for the Windows Server 2003 family, and are not installed on the print server.

Solution: Make sure the user has Print permission, and make sure the proper printer driver is installed on the print server for that operating system.

Users get an Access Denied message when trying to configure a printer from within an application.

Cause: You do not have the appropriate permission to change printer configuration.

Solution: You need Manage Printer permission to change the printer's setup.

The document does not print completely, or comes out garbled.

Cause: The printer's driver is either corrupted or incorrect.

Solution: Verify or reinstall the correct printer driver on the client computer.

Hard disk problems occur, and the document does not reach the print server.

Cause: The hard disk might not have enough space for spooling the document.

Solution: Make sure the hard disk has enough disk space, or relocate the spool folder to another volume.

Documents on the print server will not print and cannot be deleted.

Cause: The print spooler might be stalled.

Solution: On the print server, try to stop and restart the Print Spooler service.

An application on a 16-bit version of Windows (such as Windows for Workgroups) gives an out-of-memory error on startup.

Cause: A default printer is not selected.

Solution: Add a printer and set it as the default printer.

A document sent to the printer from an MS-DOS–based program on a Windows XP, Windows 2000, or Windows NT 4.0 client does not print.

Cause: Some MS-DOS programs will not print until you close the program.

Solution: Close the application you tried to print from. In addition, make sure the correct printer driver is installed on the client computer.

A driver is not listed.

Cause: The printer was not on the market when the Windows Server 2003 family was released, or a newer version of the print driver has only recently become available.

Solution: Windows printer drivers are developed through cooperation between Microsoft and the independent hardware vendor (IHV) that manufactures the print device. A product in the Windows Server 2003 family supports all print devices listed in the Windows Catalog; see Support resources.

For new and updated print drivers, see Microsoft printing support at the Microsoft Web site. You should also check Windows Update.

A new print driver downloaded from the Internet needs to be installed.

Cause: The print driver is not listed in the Add Printer Wizard's list of printers, but instead was downloaded from the Internet.

Solution:

  1. Download the printer driver to an empty folder.

  2. Expand the files by typing the name of the executable followed by the -d switch. For example, if the name of the file is Nt4prn.exe, type the following at a command prompt:

    nt4prn -d

  3. Read the Readme.txt and the License.txt files.

  4. Click Start, point to Settings, and then click Printers and Faxes.

  5. Double-click Add Printer to start the Add Printer Wizard, click Next, click Local printer attached to this computer, and then click Next.

  6. Click the port where your printer is attached, and then click Next.

  7. Click Have Disk, enter the path from Step 1, and then click OK.

  8. Click the appropriate printer, click Next, and then continue with the Add Printer Wizard.

Microsoft does not have the printer driver for the printer.

Cause: The printer might be too new, and Microsoft does not have the driver ready on its Web site.

Solution: Find a printer driver emulation that can provide the correct output. Check with the printer manufacturer to see if they have a Windows Server 2003 family printer driver.

With printer location tracking enabled, some printers cannot be located.

Cause: After printer location tracking is enabled, the default behavior is that the user will find only those printers whose location attribute matches the naming convention.

Solution: You need to set the location string again for this printer. For information on how to do this, see Enable printer location tracking.

The company has changed its organization, and as a result the naming scheme has to change.

Solution: First, use Active Directory Sites and Services to update the sites and subnets. Next, you need to update all the printer location fields for the affected printers in the organization. You can create an ADSI script to expedite the updates.

My organization has a small network without any subnets.

Solution: Active Directory cannot locate a node in the tree of your directory without having a subnet associated with it. If your organization is small enough, then this is not a problem, and users can search for any printer in the organization. But for larger organizations, or ones with many printers, you can still allow users to browse the location hierarchy as an aid to locate a printer. To do this, you need to create artificial subnets in Active Directory to correspond to the hierarchy you want to create.

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