Fixing printing problems in Windows

For the longest time printing on our network was a hit and miss affair. Some could (I could) but others could not and yet others could but only intermittently. Our arrangement is not entirely usual but not to the point of uniqueness. We have a domain but the printer is attached to a machine that is not part of the domain. After months of trying to ensure everyone is able to print, I think it’s finally fixed.

The clue was in the event log of the server (running Windows Server 2008 R2). After trying to print from a machine that had previously been able to print, the event logs on the server showed that the print spooler had disconnected the printer re-directions for the machine that was printing. The spool file would appear on the server but be deleted after a few seconds.

This post gave a link to the solution. After wading through the suggestions about changing the ACLs of the print spooler there was a gem post in the thread which pointed to this knowledge base article. Although the article is about issues printing from terminal services clients, the solution also seems to apply to my situation. The solution is to, on the server, change to the printer spool folder then run this command:

cacls PRINTER /e /g users:C

and finally re-start the spool service.

So far as I can tell, the problem seems to be that some Windows updates mess with the ACLs on the print spool folder which means that although a user’s printer is able to re-direct the print file to the spooler on the server, it is deemed invalid so deleted and the connection from the client removed. The command above, which means “add the ‘change’ right for all users to the PRINTERS sub-folder” restores appropriate rights.

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