Monday, January 7, 2008

One little check box

So having recently installed Windows Server Service Pack 2 on a client's SBS 2003 R2 box over the Christmas/New Year break (yes, I know but they were too busy to allow it any other time) it was only upon their return did I strike the following strange problem.

A shared HP printer on the server was showing offline. Strange, all the other HP printers off the server were fine. When I attempted to print a page to the offline printer the job just sat in the queue. I killed all the print jobs and restarted the Print Spooler service and then a test print worked. However, when I asked a user to try and print again the printer was offline again. Did a quick Google and couldn't find anything so rather than muck about I thought that I'd call HP since surely they had seen this before.

After being accidentally hung up on by the first technician I told the next technician in great detail what I had done and that I suspected the issue to be something related to Windows Server Service Pack 2. He suspected a corrupt driver. Ok, that is possible I suppose. So I deleted and recreated the shared printer on the server (resetting all the page sizes to A4! Why oh why doesn't this happen immediately??). Guess what? same problem. Next he got me to create a new printer on a workstation to see if I had the same problem. Ah yes, same problem. Next he wanted to delete the printer, restart the server and start hacking the registry.

At this point I had to put my foot down and say that there were users on the system and I believed the real issue was linked to Service Pack 2. He told me to wait on hold while he checked something. Fine, while you're doing that I'll Google some more. Guess what? I found the issue! Guess what? It is related to Windows Service Pack 2. Here's the solution :

Apparently Windows Server 2003 SP2 has some changes in the way SNMP is handling printer queues. It now does multiple SNMP threads for the printer queues instead of 1 round robin.

To resolve this, check if your printer's SNMP is working properly.

To workaround, in the Printers and Faxes folder,

File > Server Properties
Goto Ports Tab > Click the offline Port > Configure Port
Uncheck "SNMP Status Enable"
OK
This will turn off SNMP querying and set the printer to always Online.

Anyway, after making the changes and checking that the printers work from the clients workstation my HP friend comes back from hold and I tell him that I've solved it. Oh, he says, yes Windows Server Service Pack 2 can cause those issues. Arrrggh... If you knew that why didn't you tell me up front?

Support is never easy is it?