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Last Updated: Mar 27, 2024
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Printer Spooler Problem

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Prerita Agarwal
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23 Jul, 2024 @ 01:30 PM

Introduction

The Printer-Spooler challenge is a prominent example of process synchronization issues, a crucial aspect of operating systems. Process synchronization involves coordinating process execution to prevent simultaneous access to shared data and resources, ensuring efficient and reliable system operation.

Printer Spooler Problem

Based on their synchronization, processes are classified into one of two types:

  • Independent Process: The process in which the execution of one process does not affect and be affected by the execution of other processes.
  • Cooperative Process: The process in which the execution of one process affects and is affected by the execution of other processes.

Since the processes share resources in the case of cooperative processes, some problems with process synchronization occur. In this blog, we will talk over one such problem, i.e., the printer spooler problem.

What is the Printer Spooler Problem?

The printer spooler problem is a standard process synchronization problem. As we know, a printer's job is to print documents on paper. Also, a printer is a peripheral device, so it works slowly compared to the CPU. Many times there is a situation where multiple users are accessing the same printer for printing their files. Now the spooler comes into play. A spooler is a program that maintains a directory containing the list of the files to be printed. As soon as the printer gets free, the spooler hands over the next file to the printer for printing.  

Printer Spooler Problem

For keeping the file in the spooler, each process has to execute a code known as the spooler program.

LOAD Ri, m[in]
STORE SD[Ri], “F-N”
INCR Ri
STORE m[in], Ri

where, 

Ri: register for the ith process

m: Memory

in: a shared variable

SD: spooler directory

F-N: name of the file

Now, let’s understand this code using an example.

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Case 1: Single Process

Let’s consider a process P1 wants to print a file named F1. The process P1 will start executing the spooler program.

Initially, the variable in will be equal to the first empty location in the spooler directory. In our spooler directory, the first empty location is 0. So, in will be initialized to 0 ( in = 0 ). Now, P1 will execute the instructions one by one.

  • Instruction 1: According to the first instruction, the value at a memory location in will be loaded in a register. So, R1 (1 because the process is P1) = m[0] = 0.
  • Instruction 2: The second instruction says to store the file in the spooler directory fetching the location from the register. So, file F1 will be stored in the spooler directory at the location fetched from R1, i.e., at 0.
Single Process
  • Instruction 3: The third instruction says to increase the value of the register by 1. So, R1 = 0 + 1 = 1.
  • Instruction 4: Finally, the fourth instruction says to store the value of the register at the memory location of the variable in. Thus, in = R1 = 1.

The process P1 has executed the spooler program successfully, and the file F1 is queued in the spooler directory for printing. 

Till now, we have found no problem with this method. Then why is this whole method named the printer spooler problem? Okay, let’s discuss one more example to find out.

Case 2: Multiple processes

Now, in this case, we will consider two processes- P2 and P3. P2 wants to store a file F2, and P3 wants to store a file F3 in the spooler directory. Also, both these processes are cooperative and thus will share the same spooler program simultaneously.

The process P2 first arrives in the system and thus will start executing the instructions of the spooler program.

Variable in is at the position of 1. 

  • Instruction 1: The value at a memory location will be loaded in a register according to the first instruction. 

So, R2 (dedicated register for P2) = m[in] = m[1] = 1.

  • Instruction 2: The second instruction says to store the file in the spooler directory fetching the location from the register. So, file F2 will be stored in the spooler directory at the location fetched from R2, i.e., at 1.
Multiple processes
  • Instruction 3: The third instruction says to increase the value of the register by 1. So, R2 = 1 + 1 = 2.

Before process P2 could execute the fourth instruction, process P3 comes in, and the CPU preempts the printer to P3. Now, P3 will start executing the spooler program.

The variable in will be again initialized to 1. Although a file has been stored over that location, the variable's value is not incremented. It is still 1. So, 1 will be considered the first empty location in the spooler directory. Hence, in = 1.

  • Instruction 1: According to the first instruction, the value at a memory location in will be loaded in a register. 

So, R3 (dedicated register for P3) = m[in] = m[1] = 1.

  • Instruction 2: The second instruction says to store the file in the spooler directory fetching the location from the register. So, file F3 will be stored in the spooler directory at the location fetched from R3, i.e., at 1.

Spooler Printer

  • Instruction 3: The third instruction says to increase the value of the register by 1. So, R3 = 1 + 1 = 2.
  • Instruction 4: Finally, the fourth instruction says to store the value of the register at the memory of the location of the variable in. Thus, in = R3 = 2.

The process P3 has executed the spooler program, and the file F3 is queued in the spooler directory for printing. 

Now, the printer will again be allocated to process P2 to execute its remaining instructions. Only the fourth instruction of P2 was left, so that will be executed.

  • Instruction 4: Finally, the fourth instruction says to store the value of the register at the memory location of the variable in. Thus, in = R2 = 2.

The process P2 has also executed the spooler program successfully.

But wait, there is a problem. At location 1 of the spooler directory, there is the file F3. So, where is the file F2 of process P2?

Actually, what happened is first the process P2 stored its file F2 at location 1 in the spooler directory. When process P3 arrived, it stored its file F3 at the same location, i.e., at location 1 in the spooler directory, thus overwriting the file F2. This happened due to the non-synchronization between the processes since both the processes were sharing the same spooler program. As a result of this non-synchronization, file F2 got removed from the spooler directory. Therefore, we suffer a loss of data

So, the problem of loss of a file due to non-synchronization between the cooperative processes in the printer and spooler is termed a printer spooler problem.

How to Restart the Printer Spooler?

To restart the Printer Spooler service on Windows, you can follow these steps:

  1. Press the Windows + R keys on your keyboard to open the Run dialog box.
  2. Type "services.msc" into the Run dialog box and press Enter. This will open the Services window.
  3. Scroll down the list of services until you find "Print Spooler."
  4. Right-click on "Print Spooler" and select "Restart" from the context menu. Alternatively, you can click on "Print Spooler" to select it and then click the "Restart the service" button from the toolbar on the left side.
     

After restarting the Print Spooler service, you may need to wait a few moments for it to fully restart.

What Problems a Spooler Error Can Cause?

The problems a Spooler error can cause are as follows:

  1. Inability to Print: When the Printer Spooler service encounters an error or stops working, it can prevent you from printing any documents or tasks.
  2. Print Jobs Stuck in Queue: Print jobs might get stuck in the print queue and fail to be processed or printed.
  3. Error Messages: Spooler errors often result in various error messages popping up, indicating issues with the printing system.
  4. Slow Performance: A malfunctioning Printer Spooler can cause overall system slowdowns or delays when printing.
  5. Inconsistent Printing Behavior: Spooler errors may lead to inconsistent printing behavior, such as prints missing pages, printing incorrect content, or failing to print altogether.
  6. Printer Offline: Spooler errors can sometimes cause printers to appear offline even when they are properly connected and configured.

How to resolve the printer spooler problem?

There are two methods for resolving the printer spooler issue in the system. These are as follows-

1. Restart the Computer and Resend Print Requests:

  • Begin by saving any unsaved files.
  • Restart your computer.
  • Once the system is back online, resend the print request for the files.
  • This straightforward method typically resolves the issue and is the simplest approach.
     

2. Clean the Spooler:

  • Close all programs associated with printing, such as Word.
  • Navigate to Start -> Administrative Tools -> Services.
  • Locate 'Print Spooler' in the list, right-click it, and select 'Stop'.
  • Access My Computer, then double-click the C: (C drive) folder, followed by the Windows folder.
  • Within the Windows folder, find the System32 folder, then locate and open the Spool -> Printers directory.
  • Delete all printing jobs stored in this folder.
  • Return to the Services window, locate 'Print Spooler', right-click it, and choose 'Start'.
  • Reopen the printing programs previously used and attempt to print a document.

By following these steps, you can effectively troubleshoot printer spooler issues, whether through a simple restart or a more thorough cleaning process.

How to Stop the Printer Spooler Problem?

To stop or resolve printer spooler problems, you can take several steps depending on the nature of the issue. Here's a general guide to help you address printer spooler problems:

  1. Restart the Print Spooler Service: Press the Windows + R keys on your keyboard to open the Run dialog box. Type "services.msc" into the Run dialog box and press Enter. This will open the Services window. Scroll down and locate "Print Spooler" in the list of services. Right-click on "Print Spooler" and select "Stop" from the context menu. Once the service has stopped, right-click on "Print Spooler" again and select "Start" to restart the service. Check if the issue persists.
     
  2. Clear Print Queue: Sometimes, print jobs can get stuck in the print queue, causing spooler issues. To clear the print queue:
    1. Open the Control Panel and navigate to Devices and Printers.
    2. Right-click on your printer and select "See what's printing."
    3. In the print queue window, select all print jobs and delete them.
    4. Close the print queue window and check if the spooler problem is resolved.
       
  3. Update Printer Drivers: Outdated or corrupt printer drivers can also cause spooler problems. Try updating your printer drivers to the latest version available from the manufacturer's website.
     
  4. Run Printer Troubleshooter: Windows includes a built-in printer troubleshooter that can help identify and fix common printer problems. You can access it by going to Settings > Update & Security > Troubleshoot > Additional troubleshooters > Printer > Run the troubleshooter.
     
  5. Check for Windows Updates: Make sure your operating system is up-to-date by installing any available Windows updates. Sometimes, printer spooler issues can be resolved through system updates that include bug fixes and improvements.
     
  6. Check for Hardware Issues: Ensure that your printer is properly connected to your computer and that there are no hardware issues with the printer itself.
     
  7. Check for Third-Party Software Conflicts: Sometimes, third-party software or security programs can interfere with the printer spooler. Try temporarily disabling any third-party antivirus or security software to see if it resolves the issue.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is process synchronization?

Process synchronization can be defined as the task of coordinating process execution so that no two processes can access the same shared data and resources.

Based on their synchronization, processes are classified into one of two types:

  • Independent Process: The process in which the execution of one process does not affect the execution of other processes.
  • Cooperative Process: The process in which the execution of one process affects the execution of other processes.

What is Spooler?

A spooler is a program that maintains a directory containing the list of the files to be printed. As soon as the printer gets free, the spooler hands over the next file to the printer for printing.

What is the cause of the printer spooler problem?

The cause of the printer spooler problem is the non-synchronization between the processes. This problem often results in the loss of data.

How do I fix a printer spooler problem?

You can fix it using the services app. Open the services app by searching it in the Search bar of the taskbar. Double-click Print Spooler in the list of services after selecting the Standards tab. Then reset it by pressing the stop button followed by the start button.

How do I fix the printer spooler service in Windows 10?

Resetting the print spooler and clearing the print queues on the PC using the Services console or Command Prompt will resolve the printer problem. Launch the command prompt in administrator mode. Press enter after typing:

net stop spooler

del /Q /F /S"%systemroot%\System32\Spool\Printers\*.*"  # command to clear print queues

net start spooler.

How do I reset my printer spooler?

Click the start button and choose the run app. First, stop the printer spooler by typing "net stop spooler" on the Command Prompt and hitting Enter. Then start the printer spooler by typing "net start spooler" on the Command Prompt and hitting Enter.

Conclusion

In this blog, we discussed the How To Fix A Printer Spooler Error. We have discussed printer spooler problem is. Dealing with printer spooler problems can be frustrating, but with the right troubleshooting steps, many issues can be resolved effectively. Whether it's restarting the print spooler service, clearing the print queue, updating printer drivers, or checking for hardware issues, taking proactive measures can help restore smooth printing functionality.

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Happy Learning!

Topics covered
1.
Introduction
2.
What is the Printer Spooler Problem?
3.
Case 1: Single Process
4.
Case 2: Multiple processes
5.
How to Restart the Printer Spooler?
6.
What Problems a Spooler Error Can Cause?
7.
How to resolve the printer spooler problem?
8.
How to Stop the Printer Spooler Problem?
9.
Frequently Asked Questions
9.1.
What is process synchronization?
9.2.
What is Spooler?
9.3.
What is the cause of the printer spooler problem?
9.4.
How do I fix a printer spooler problem?
9.5.
How do I fix the printer spooler service in Windows 10?
9.6.
How do I reset my printer spooler?
10.
Conclusion