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Win XP Print Spooler – Can you help?

June 22, 2011

I’m on a labor of love — trying to restore a computer in the synagogue office following a malware attack.

Repeated application of Spybot and SuperAntiSpyware along with many detections by AVG and lots of reboots eventually removed all traces of malicious software. But the original attack seems to have killed printing. All the printers seemed to have disappeared and the print spooler task quits as soon as I try to add a printer.

There are lots of suggestions for this issue on the Internet. They follow a common theme: remove all traces of printer drivers and software from the computer, make sure the spooler task doesn’t have any unexpected dependencies and set the task to automatically restart. None of it worked. I also checked that the dates and file size on spoolsvr.exe matched another computer.

Any suggestions will be gratefully accepted. I’m trying to avoid reinstalling Windows. (Didn’t Windows 98 and earlier allow you to do a repair install so you didn’t have to reinstall all your applications? Why not newer versions?).

It’s Windows XP Pro SP3.



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  1. Anonymous permalink

    try to use Cleanspl.exe from the server 2003 resource kit , it will clean out everything spooler related , you will have to reinstall drivers manually after the proces.

    the cleanspl also works on XP


  2. Anonymous permalink

    Time to slot in the Ubuntu install CD. Get WINE for the Windows only apps. Future proves the system too.


  3. David Schaffer permalink

    Thank you. I will definitely try cleanspl.


  4. David Schaffer permalink

    Stephen: It’s tempting but I’m not sure this is a good solution for a very non-technical user on low end hardware. Also, we have enough problem with printing in Windows; would hate to have to find and configure Linux drivers for their problematic printers (Konica copier/printer using non-standard IP port for example).


  5. Anonymous permalink

    Hey David

    Hope you have got this working, but if not:

    We’ve had the same problem – the printer spool doesn’t want to start, or throws an error message.

    You might try deleting everything under C:\Windows\System32\spool\drivers\W32X86 and see if that helps – it might be that the spooler is hanging on one of these drivers.

    This has helped us restart


  6. David Schaffer permalink

    Update: I’ve tried deleting files without success.
    I decided to try running Windows install again hoping it would let me do a repair install. I used a Windows XP Pro with SP3 CD. Although that appeared to be the installed OS it offered to do an upgrade install rather than a repair install. I let it run and it seemed OK. On reboot it said I needed to activate, then appeared to hang. It took me a while to realize this is the issue where you can no longer activate without IE8. I booted into safe mode, installed IE8 from CD, restarted, activated, and all seemed well.
    Except when I went to add a printer the problem was not resolved! Argghh!
    I guess I need to do a full re-install — probably recreating the Windows partition and reformatting to be safe.
    Why is there no way to replace a single failed component of Windows?


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