Print Spooler Crash

Printers are by far my kryptonite. The huge variety of printers and inconsistency, even within brands, is very difficult to get a good idea of what's going on. At any rate, one of the biggest problems we've had so far is documents that get 'stuck in the spooler'. As a more technical explanation, whatever document that a user is trying to print (generally a PDF) has somehow been corrupted or wasn't created properly, which causes the print spooler to crash. This has a detrimental effect on practically every program that uses a printer, causing people to think a virus has attacked their computer, and others, who are not as familiar with the issue, to spend hours trying to take care of a problem that is relatively easy to workaround. This problem has generally effected the HP LaserJet 1018, HP LaserJet 1020, and HP LaserJet 1022n. Unfortunately, those models are everywhere, almost at every school site.

The secret? Several steps:

  1. Stop the print spooler service. Either use a net stop spooler on the commandline, or kill the spoolsv.exe process in Task Manager. This process must be stopped before attempting to delete the corrupted files, since Windows will report them as being 'in use' otherwise.

  2. Navigate to where the corrupted files have been stuck in the print spooler folder, generally C:\WINDOWS\system32\spool\PRINTERS.

  3. Delete everything in that folder. It will delete everything that the user has tried to print, but will take care of the problem.

  4. You have several options now to get the print spooler back up and running: restart the computer or run net start spooler from the commandline. Pick your poison.


I have used this process successfully on both Windows XP and Windows 7, the only difference with Windows 7 being that the commandline has to be started as administrator first.

I have tried a 'Fix It' from Microsoft which resets the print spooler, which may solve the issue entirely (I haven't been able to verify this, however). I believe the program is located here: http://support.microsoft.com/kb/2000007. I will verify this later and update with the correct program.

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