Thursday, March 3, 2011

HP Reserves The Right To Screw Up Your Network Printer Even If You Have A Xerox

So there I am, trying to print a Very Important Document from one of my work machines when I get a message telling me that the printer in question can't be found. "It's right there, next to the candy machine where it always is," I explain patiently. I walk over and, sure enough, there it is: a xerox document center the size of a Waffle House (my midwestern readers should click here). Fine, I think. I'll show you; I've got more than one work machine, and I'll bet that one remembers where the candy machine is. I quarter-turn my chair and go to print. Same problem. Oooookay.

I decide to delete the printer and re-add it, being a rational intelligent person. The deletion step goes exactly as planned. Re-adding proves problematic, however. No matter which printer I attempt to add, I get the following cryptic message:

"Windows cannot connect to the printer. The specified port is unknown."

Well if it's unknown to you, what makes you think I know what it is? I jump onto Bing and provide the error message to the search engine. I get back all kinds of theories including a registry key setting, a need to set up the network printer by attaching it as a local one (not an option), and turning off my firewall (also not an option -- corporate networks tend to frown upon that sort of thing). I sigh dramatically and create a service ticket.

This problem is affecting two of my machines. Both run Windows Server 2008 and have pretty much the exact same suite of development tools. Neither has been wiped recently and other than forced updates, nothing has been installed recently.

A very nice man comes to help and I explain all this to him. We decide it probably has something to do with a patch not playing nice with the printer drivers. He directs me to rename this file:

\Windows\System32\spool\drivers\w32x86\3\hpzpnp.dll

(I rename it by adding ".old" to the end.)

I reboot the machine and... everything works.

You may be wondering how that particular file, which by all accounts is an Hewlitt-Packard assembly file, could keep me from connecting to my Xerox printer. Yeah, me too.

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