The local print spooler service is not running - Vista

By Chris Shennan

29th March 2009 | No Comments

A few months back both my Windows Vista (Business) computers would not longer print even though they had been printing fine for months.  I tried

  1. restarting the workstations
  2. restarting the server,
  3. restarting the print spooler service on the workstations
  4. restarting the printer spooler server on the server
  5. deleting printers and tryed to re-add them

Regardless what I tried neither of the Windows Vista computers would allow me to printer and always presented me with the following error when trying to add a printer and almost always when the computer booted:-

The local print spooler service is not running. Please restart the spooler or restart the machine.

At that point I didn't need to print much so I didn't try too hard to fix it and simply resorted to printing from my only Windows XP machine I had.

Today I finally had enough and decided it was time to find a solution to this local print spooler service is not running problem.

After only a short while of searching I found that quite a few other people had this local print spooler service is not running problem and there were a variety of fixes which worked for some and not others but the one that worked for me was in an article called "How to clean up printer drivers" written by Bruce Sanderson way back in 2004 so I was pleasantly surprised when it work like a charm.

I simply followed steps 6 - 14 (listed below) and everything starting working again.  I was able to add printers and once again print without even needing to restart the computer.

6.  open regedit (e.g. click Start, key regedit and press Enter)

7.  navigate to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\Print\Environments\Windows NT x86\Drivers

under this key, there will be the keys Version-2 and Version-3 (one or the other of these may be absent - not a problem)

the sub-keys under these contain the printer driver configuration information

delete all the sub-keys inside Version-2 and Version-3, but not these keys themselves

The Microsoft Knowledgebase article at;en-us;312052 lists some other registry entries to delete, but this is not usually necessary.

8.  open a Command Prompt window

9.  key the commands

net stop spooler

net start spooler

10. open Windows Explorer

11. navigate to %systemroot%\system32\spool\printers\ and delete any files there.  By default, this is where the print spooler stores print files.

12. navigate to %systemroot%\system32\spool\drivers\w32x86 (%systemroot% is usually Windows, but it might be winnt or something else; this is set when the OS is installed).

13. inside w32x86, there will be folders with the names 2 and 3 (one or more of these may be absent - not a problem)

delete all of the files and sub-folders in each of the 2 and 3 folders, but not the folders themselves

inside w32x86, there may be other folders with names starting with "hewlett_packard", "hphp" or something else; delete these folders also

14. restart the print spooler (see steps 8 and 9 above)

Although this looks to have been aimed at resolving the local print spooler service is not running problem on computers that have been upgrade from Windows 98 to Windows XP it seems to work just as well on a Windows Vista computer that was a clean install of Windows Vista Business when installed.


"How to clean up Printer Drivers" by Bruce Sanderson


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