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How to unfreeze your printer

clip_image002Stump the PC Club is a free tech-advice column written by members of the North Orange County Computer Club, which has been in existence since 1976. Visit the club’s site at noccc.org.

QUESTION: All of a sudden my printer stopped printing. I’ve checked and rechecked all connections but can’t seem to get anywhere. It seems like it’s frozen. Can you please help?

PC CLUB:  Sooner or later this happens to all of us, the printer appears to freeze or jam but it’s not a traditional paper jam. It’s an electronic jam.

Windows uses a feature or service called Print Spooling to store the print jobs (data sent to a printer) in a buffer, allowing the program that sent the data to the printer to resume its normal operation. Basically, it means that your Word Processor need not wait for the file to print before restoring control to the user. You’re free to work on the document while the printer keeps printing.

Just like when you’re in a grocery store, if the first person in line or queue refuses to move, everyone behind them can’t move either. You’re stuck. This is most likely your situation.

There are several possible ways to clear a stuck printer queue. You can follow a multi-step process or download a program from the Internet to take care of it for you. Several web sites below have instructions for resolving the problem if you want to do it yourself which is quite easy.

http://www.topfreestuff.com/printSpool.shtml

http://techtites.com/2009/02/18/simplify-clearing-the-windows-print-spooler-queue/

You have to start out by stopping the service name Print Spooler. Then you have to clear out all of the documents that are waiting to print. The final step is to restart the Print Service.

All services can be seen by clicking Start, Run and entering services.msc in the Run box and hitting the Enter key. Next, right-click the service and select Stop. Leave the window open for now and go to a folder as follows and delete its contents.

C:\windows\system32\spool\printers

Next, restart the Print Spooler

To have this done automatically download the free program called Stalled Printer Repair at http://bit.ly/nfEq0v. There are two versions including an installer and a Zip file. I recommend the Installer which you can use to place the program anywhere including on a flash drive.

I also recommend that you read the information at this web site. Remember, if you use either of the solutions above, you will have to reprint any documents that were stuck in the queue.

Ed Schwartz is a member of the North Orange County Computer Club. To send in a question, go to edwardns.com and click the Contact Me menu. Archives of previous columns are also on the website.

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