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What to Do When Your Print Server Crashes

Posted by Devin Anderson

Got print server problems? Actually, that’s a silly question. Who doesn’t have print server problems?

Among IT professionals, print servers are notorious for being fickle and unreliable. The level of oversight a print server requires often exceeds any benefit it might bring to your print environment. Their susceptibility to issues like driver conflicts, software incompatibilities, buggy code and stuck queues makes them liabilities, and their lack of transparency coupled with their restrictive administrative controls makes them obstacles to effective print management.

That’s why print server problems—especially crashes—are a matter of when, not if. So how can you best prepare for the inevitable and respond when it happens?

Restart the print spooler: When print servers crash, printing stops. Getting the print spooler back up and running as soon as possible will minimize the impact of the crash and the resulting downtime on end users. Sometimes this is easier said than done, because there’s a chance that the spooler and print server will immediately crash again. This will keep happening until the print server problem is solved.

Diagnose the problem: Whether the spooler is running again or not, the next thing to do is get to the heart of your print server problem. The odds are high that a rogue driver is at fault, so it’s best to start sifting through the diagnostic logs to see which drivers were in use or which printer was being called at the time the print server crashed. If a user or workstation is the culprit, you’ll have to determine how that particular user account or workstation is different from the rest. It could be the OS not playing well with the print server, or it could be logon scripts or an improper printer installation that is causing the print server problems.

Update, patch, replace or disable: Once you’ve identified the cause of this particular issue, you should still run through a comprehensive list of solutions:

  • First, make sure you’ve applied all the current software patches to your print server. This advice comes with some caveats, because while some patches do correct existing print server problems, others can actually cause new ones.
  • Check for available software updates for the offending device and apply them. This means updating the printer driver or the workstation. Again, sometimes these updates can cause a different set of print server problems, so be sure you can roll back to a previous version if issues arise.
  • Should patches and updates fail or are unavailable, you might have to resort to simply disabling the offending software or device, or replacing it with a known working solution.

Look for a new print management solution: This is an unconventional step but one that could save you and your organization a lot of time, money and headache. Instead of regularly bracing yourself for the worst and dealing with print server problems like hangs and crashes, you could be enjoying superior ease of management, self-service installation, incredible scalability from minimal infrastructure, robustness toward software incompatibilities and driver conflicts, as well as unprecedented uptime.

PrinterLogic provides the enterprise print management solution that will enable you to eliminate print servers from your print environment while enjoying greater reliability and enhanced, seamlessly integrated functionality like mobile/BYOD and pull printing.

So maybe it’s worth asking that question again. Who doesn’t have print server problems? Simple: Organizations that use PrinterLogic.