Sunday, December 19, 2010

Do You Read Me, HAL?

It all started out with a spreadsheet that wouldn't open. Open Office would hang each time I tried to open it, blaming the problem on spoolsv.exe. I thought it odd that a program that manages document printing would prevent me from opening a file in the first place, but apparently it could. Thinking that spoolsv.exe might have been corrupted, I tried to replace it with a copy from my wife's computer. When that didn't work, I turned to Google. Someone mentioned something about printer drivers being the cause of the problem. However, when I tried to open the Devices and Printers window to access my printer properties, the window failed to open. Apparently problems with the Devices and Printers window are common, but the typical solution didn't work for me.

I downloaded a new copy of the printer driver from HP, hoping to force a reinstallation of the driver, but the installation hung. No matter what I did, it seemed like I couldn't uninstall or reinstall the printer or its drivers. With some help from Google, and a little experimentation, I found that by stopping print spooler in the Services window and then restarting it I could regain some function (I could access Devices and Printers again). However, once I rebooted the problem reappeared. It seemed that the more things I tried, the more problems I had. After a while explorer.exe started crashing because of this ridiculous printer problem.

Eventually I was able to uninstall and then reinstall the printer and its drivers by starting and stopping print spooler repeatedly. I had to stop it to open the Devices and Printers window, start it to uninstall the printer, stop and restart it to run the HP driver uninstall, and then stop it again for the driver uninstall to finish. It was all very frustrating. Once the accursed things were uninstalled, I rebooted the computer, it recognized the printer, and the needed drivers were installed automatically. I must have wasted at least three hours trying to figure the problem out.

My current computer, which has actually been very well behaved overall, is named HAL after my first computer. Every time I have computer problems, though, I'm reminded that I got the name from the murderously dysfunctional computer in 2001: A Space Odyssey.

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