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Troubleshoot print jobs in Windows environment – Reference Article

Summary

This Reference Article provides some guidance on how to troubleshoot print job problems in the Windows environment.

Information

Printing from Windows is something that we all take for granted because it just works. However, when it does not, most people are at a loss about how to go about troubleshooting the problem. This article provides some pointers on how to troubleshoot some of the problems you many have encountered. It does not, however, cover all of the possibilities of what could have gone wrong with print jobs.

Most common problems:

  • Jobs not printed
    • Is the print job in the correct queue?
    • Is the print spooler service running?
    • Is there a job at the top of the queue that has the error status?
  • Job pause in the middle
    • Is the printer out of ink or toner
    • Is the printer out of paper
    • Is the print spooler service running
  • Job went to the wrong printer
    • Check to see if the correct printer was selected when printing from application.
    • Check printer properties to see if it is configured to the correct port (IP Address, share on another computer, etc)
  • The printout looks like gibberish
    • Check to see if a correct printer driver is being used
    • Check printer properties to see if it is configured to the correct port (IP Address, share on another computer, etc)
  • Need to cancel current print job (or other pending jobs)
    • For current print job, select the job that has the current status of ‘Printing’, right click and select cancel.  This may not work if you do not have proper permission.
    • For multiple, select the jobs that you want to cancel (control-click), right click and select cancel.  This may not work if you do not have proper permission.

Less common problem:

  • Print job restarts in the middle of the job
    • There is one reason why Windows print spooler will restart a print job without any warning – printer reset.  Typically, when there are interruption to the print job, unless the printer is reset, the printing will resume where it left off.  However, if the printer is reset (loss of power or some other causes), Windows Print Spooler detected that the print job has failed.  When it was able to re-establish connection to the printer again, it will resend the entire job again, starting from the beginning.  For some printer with built-in network interface, if the network interface is reset but the computer power was not interrupted, it has the same affect as printer reset.

If you read this far, you must have a somewhat complex issues where common troubleshooting steps did not help.  Here are some tools you can use to determine the problems with your print jobs

System Event Log

Look for event from Spooler services.  This may provide clues to why print spooler crashed.

PrintService Log (Windows 2012)

You can launch print job and monitor print queue, but you need to set Event Viewer logs to active for Print Server:

It provides high level logging of PrintService in Windows.  It may not provide much information that you can use.  Look for error messages.

PrintService Log Operational (Windows 2012)

This provides details logging of the printing operation for Windows spooler. By default, it is not enabled. You need to enable this log.  Microsoft recommend that the log is disabled during normal operation.

Within this log, do not just look for error entries. Try to narrow the time when the ‘problem’ occurred and read every entry just before and after. There may be enough hints in the log information that will guide you to the next steps.

Examples

Updated on August 24, 2017

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