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Problems with Win XP PCs on our LAN

We have a typical LAN setup at work. Some PC's run on Windows 2000, Windows 98 and Win XP. We've observed a problem lately concerning the Win XP users -- every time a user enters the network neighborhood to see their temp folder or if they enter their printers -- all of a sudden all print servers on the LAN fail and as a result we have a queue up of print outs. Do you have any ideas?

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In mixed environments like the one you have, there are numerous possibilities as to what might be going on. In all likelihood, the Windows XP user has cached network connections to the printers and possibly legacy Windows 98 shares that when they browse to network neighborhood or attempt to connect to the printers menu, Windows XP re-establishes all network connections to cached locations. Oftentimes, the re-polling of these cached network devices (printers and print shares) fails due to the connection of a cached device no longer exists.

To troubleshoot these problems, isolate the Windows XP client that is causing the connectivity issues, remove cached network neighborhood connections and unmap all of its drives, remove all of its cached printer settings, and reboot. Once the machine is back online, reinstall a single printer to see if the print jobs begin to fail again. In such a mixed mode environment, this may take several repetitions for multiple clients to fully isolate and resolve the problem. Having all clients remove cached network connections and re-establish only the ones that are needed all at once might facilitate the troubleshooting.

This was first published in June 2005

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