Archive for August, 2008

Spooler keeps crashing!

Ok you’ve got a cute little HP 1020/1022 laser printer and most of the time it works great BUT the @#%@$%#$ spooler sometimes crashes randomly (or not so randomly).  Here’s the deal… It’s the dreaded HP Host Print Driver!  Yep, this bad boy seems to be rearing it’s ugly head more and more these days. (Sidebar: The host print driver is a driver that does most of the PCL print processing on your CPU instead of the printer’s processor.  You see, traditionally, Laser printers have had their own processors to understand and interpret PCL and sometimes Postscript printer languages, but in order to take cost out of the printer, HP (and others) have removed the processor chips from low end printers and written drivers that (mostly) replicate the interpretation on the computer the printer is connected to.)  On to more details…  You may have dug into this deeper by now and found some consistancies in how and when the spooler crashes. 

- It’s usually when trying to print a PDF document.

- Not all PDFs cause the problem.

- It’s usually a PDF that was generated by a scanner.

- Once the spooler crashes or freezes, Word and Outlook have huge problems just opening documents.

- Sometimes you will see where ZSR.DLL was the faulting module.

These are things that do not work so don’t even bother trying them: 

- Deleting/uninstalling the printer and reinstalling it.  It may seem to work for a while but the next “special” PDF that comes along will crash it.

- Upgrading the version of Acrobat reader.  This has no effect at all.  (sidebar: removing adobe acrobat and replacing it with Foxit reader will resolve the issue however)

- Trying a different driver.  Since this is a host print printer, standard (HP 4, etc..) drivers will not work.  It must be a host print driver.

- Rebooting.  The spooler will probably crash within minutes after rebooting without even trying to print anything.  This is because the “special” PDF is still sitting in the print queue and will try to resume printing once the spooler starts.  Clearing the print queue will temporarily resolve this immediate problem.  The print Queue can be found here: c:\windows\system32\spool\printers  Just delete all the files in there and reboot.

- Updating the printer driver to the latest version.  Since this is a now obsolete printer, HP doesn’t seem to be willing to fix this problem and so the latest drivers are actually worse than older drivers.  And that leads us to how to fix the problem….

 Here is what does work:

- Clear out all remnants of all printer drivers as per MS article: http://support.microsoft.com/kb/324757/en-us  (Q324757)

- Unpack the driver from the original CD or an old driver package.  One that I know works is labeled for XP,2000 AND 98 from 2005.  Also, to check if it might be the right driver, check the contents of the unpacked dirver for the existance of zsr.dll  If it’s there, it’s the wrong one and won’t fix the problem.

- Install the printer the old fashioned way, plug it in and install the driver using add printer and selecting “have drivers”.  DO NOT run the HP install!!!!

- Go ahead and install any other (non-host print) drivers that are needed.

 That’s it.  hours and hours of head banging averted!  Now doesn’t that feel good??

ds

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