Starting off the work week with an odd error is always a guarantee of fun times. Things like the Print Spooler should just work and usually happily will unless something gets in the way. Today’s error involved Windows XP’s Data Execution Prevention, or DEP, stopping the Print Spooler service from running any time it started up.
With the Print Spooler not running, no printers were listed in the Control Panel and obviously no printing was possible. The solution involved cleaning out the printer drivers and ports that had been added previously by drivers.
To clean out the Print Spooler, we refer to a previous article here on 404 Tech Support: Printers – Starting From Scratch. From that article, we use the Cleanspl.exe process from the Windows Server 2003 Resource Kit. I received a number of prompts for confirmation of removal from the Clean Spooler executable as it ran through. I told it to remove everything but the Standard TCP/IP Printer Port and the USB Printer Ports, though there are documented ways to reinstall those ports.
It seems the error I witnessed today stemmed from a problem with HP Standard TCP/IP Printer Port that was installed by a driver. I re-installed all the needed printers and the problem didn’t reappear, so the HP port must have become corrupted. The print spooler service successfully started and remained running after using the cleanspl.exe tool and reinstalling the need printers.