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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

About Christopher Shennan

I am a web developer specialising in web driven applications using PHP, MySQL, Symfony and Zend and I am currently working for Line Digital in Edinburgh, Scotland.

Most days I can be found frantically coding away with EuroDance in my ears and consuming what I hope to be a never ending supply of coffee... happy days!

Connect with me via Twitter, Google+ or LinkedIn

  • #1 | Written by Bryce Young about 4 years ago.

    I had this same issue and I found this information which seemed to be very simple:

    This can happen if Print Spooler needs other services, and these services are not running. To resolve this issue, use the following procedure:

    1. In Services, right-click Print Spooler and then click Properties.
    Click the Dependencies tab. The first box lists all of the system services that must be running for Print Spooler to start. These are the dependencies.
    Make a note of each service, click OK and then start each service upon which Print Spooler is dependent, if the service is not already started. If a service was not started, right-click it, click Properties and then confirm that the Startup type is Automatic.
    .-= Bryce Young´s last blog ..GMAT Registration Information and Worldwide Testing Center Locations =-.

  • #2 | Written by Victor about 4 years ago.

    Thanks! Windows 7 has been having this issue as well but this worked great and finally fixed this even though instructions are for vista.

  • #3 | Written by Rob about 4 years ago.

    Same problem for me. My config: Vista Home Premium box with connected printer. Win7 laptop needing to print. Nothing on any of the forums found or here fixed it. I cleaned everything out deleted all files, drivers, Registry entries, printers etc. Re-loaded everything. Re-added everything. I tried changing the logon parameters of the spooler. I disabled all firewalls and virus protection. I re-started the print spooler on the Vista box many times. I ensured users and passwords were identical on both machines and logged in the user on the remote machine before trying to connect printer. Nada.

    Adding the printer on the Win7 PC was not always a problem, but I couldn’t connect to it.

    What solved it? Adding the Vista PC as a Print server on the Win7 (client). Use the Win7 Print Manager snapin to do this.

    Couldn’t have been simpler, but why is this necessary and why is it not part of the Add network printer wizard???? Who on earth would think of this?

  • #4 | Written by JoeyD about 4 years ago.

    Thanks so much. This fixed the same issue I had in minutes.
    .-= JoeyD´s last blog ..HDR Photos – Week 6 Homework =-.

  • #5 | Written by Emmy about 4 years ago.

    I tried this step by step and is still having the same issue. Was I suppose to restart my computer. I tried everthing but still no luck.

  • #6 | Written by Christopher Shennan about 4 years ago.

    Hi Emmy,

    I’m not 100% sure if it is necessary to restart the computer or not but the steps above includes editing the registry so it is probably a good idea to restart that machine after deleting the registry keys and before proceeding to the subsequent steps.

    .-= Christopher Shennan´s last blog ..mysqldump on Windows gives “Access is Denied” =-.

  • #7 | Written by rogero about 4 years ago.

    Awesome!!!!! I tried everything, including the MS web site (waste of time). Yours was the first that recommended clearing all sub files in the 2 & 3 registry folders. It worked great. I didn’t even need to restart. Thank you for taking your time to help others. Much appreciated.

  • #8 | Written by Adi about 4 years ago.

    Thanks! it’s solved my problem

  • #9 | Written by Ema about 4 years ago.

    Very useful info, thank you. I tried everything but still having issues. In command prompt i get error 5; access denied when I type the second prompt “net start spooler”.I recently uninstall a Lexmark printer and my Cannon disappeared and now I just can’t install it back because of the spooler. Some other posts suggest that when uninstalling a printer something gets hooked on something else and prevents the spooler from working. Do you have any idea about this being an issue? I wonder if I should install the old printer again.

  • #10 | Written by Alex about 4 years ago.

    It worked for me… Thanks !!!!!

  • #11 | Written by ilona about 4 years ago.

    Didn’t work for me. All of the system components that the Print Spooler is dependent on are running just fine. I don’t remember having this problem before I got Windows 7, but I”m not sure if that’s related.

  • #12 | Written by Marc Coiro about 3 years ago.

    I can’t find the drop down option for the “Drivers” part
    Could u please help me with this, I bought the printer yesterday

  • #13 | Written by Christopher Shennan about 3 years ago.

    Hi Marc,

    You could try a search in the registry for “w32×86″ (I’m assuming your problem is at step 12) as the %systemroot% (in %systemroot%system32spooldriversw32×86) may be set to something different.

    I hope this helps.


  • #14 | Written by Tim about 3 years ago.

    Brilliant. I had a user on Win 7 who randomly started having this error with network printers. Followed the steps given and then just had to update the drivers (obviously as I had removed them) and it was all working again. Thanks

  • #15 | Written by Michael about 3 years ago.

    Thanks Mate! You saved my bacon :)
    Spool was stopping second after each restart.
    You succeeded where
    Microsoft Automated Troubleshooting Services: Printing problems and printing errors
    FAILED :)
    Thanks again.

  • #16 | Written by Linda about 3 years ago.

    Thank you so much. I’m a computer amateur but I followed your steps and it’s worked! Thank you so much.

  • #17 | Written by Jarir about 3 years ago.

    Thanks a lot.

  • #18 | Written by Stephen about 3 years ago.

    Great Job Chris thanks

    Fixed spooler problem in a XP > W7 upgrade. Removed printers and reinstalled drivers to complete fix.

  • #19 | Written by Bob Curley about 3 years ago.

    Thank you so much! Just used this procedure to fix the problem on a 64-Bit Vista Ultimate Machine with Sp2!

  • #20 | Written by Danny_08 about 3 years ago.

    Thanx really a lot! U helped me out so much! I was freaking out and this problem seemed to be unsolveable – but i made it. Even thou i m not a PC expert :-)

  • #21 | Written by William about 3 years ago.

    Your solution to this problem worked for me too. Thanks mate. I almost went insane because of this issue. I hope the Gurus at MS will note your solution to the problem.

  • #22 | Written by John about 3 years ago.

    Thanks for sharing. Before I went through and started deleting registry info, I skipped to steps 8 and 9. I launched command, stopped the spooler then started the spooler. All printer info came back.

  • #23 | Written by James May about 3 years ago.

    Thanks so much for this article. After hours of trying, this quick fix has saved the day!!!

  • #24 | Written by kylie about 3 years ago.

    THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!!! This process was slightly lengthy but well worth it! My printer is running smoothly once again!

  • #25 | Written by diana about 2 years ago.

    Thank you so much Bryan, my printer works now!

  • #26 | Written by Nancy A about 2 years ago.

    1-8-12 I just used your instructions to re-start my printer on my HP with Windows 7 OS and it worked like a charm. so easy and so effective. thank you to Christopher Shennan

  • #27 | Written by Leah C about 2 years ago.


  • #28 | Written by Steve Jhee about 2 years ago.

    thank you so much, faced the problem exactly what you got, now followed 14 steps, now i can print ok.

  • #29 | Written by Charles hopkinson about 2 years ago.

    You are a GENIUS.

    This has helped me massively. Thank You.

  • #30 | Written by Jacqueline Briscoe about 2 years ago.

    Got as far as 8 & 9 in directions. After typing stop/start spooler received this message: System error 5 has occurred. Have NO idea what this mean!! Please help like yourself I had this problem too long, and having to go to the library for internet printouts with a printer at home is totally frustrating! : ( Jackie

  • #31 | Written by Chris D about 2 years ago.

    Hi, I’ve attempted to follow the instructions, But when I got to restart the spooler on the command prompt (net start spooler) I got an error 5, access denied. So it wont allow me wo restart it. Any ideas on how get past this error 5 on the command prompt?

    Thanks for your help/advice!

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