Network weirdness

Discussion in 'other software & services' started by M_S, Sep 15, 2005.

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  1. M_S

    M_S Registered Member

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    I'm about to overhaul the small network in the office I work in. I probably know enough to do this, but I'm going to have to supplement as I go along by reading up on particular subjects. There is one thing that happens quite regularly to some (but not all of us), and I want to ask if anyone has had a similar experience and knows how to fix it. When we send documents from Word, there's a long delay and it looks like Word has frozen - other programs work fine; eventually (this can literally take 5 minutes), you get a message saying something like "MS Word has been unable to connect to the printer; it might be possible to print anyway. Click yes if you want to continue waiting, or no to try print now" - it's roughly that, but I'm writing this from home so I don't have the exact wording in front of me. Nothing at all happens if you choose not to wait; if you wait, it continues to look as if Word is frozen, and then a minute or two later it give the same dialogue again. This repeats a few times, and then eventually the printer fires up and it all works smoothly from then on. I don't work so often in the office anymore, but it used to be that my first print-job of the day was tortuously slow, but thereafter it was quicker - I think it's now slow every time. As I said, this happens to some of the computers on the network: two of the three machines running XP, and one of the Win 98 boxes. To tell the truth, the Win 98 ones are not that important. What's really weird is that it doesn't happen on the third XP machine, which is a laptop that is only occasionally plugged into the network, one or two days each week. The other two XP machines are the important ones, and my colleagues are going out of their minds. Has anyone seen anything like this before?
     
  2. M_S

    M_S Registered Member

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    Okay, I've spent the day working on this problem, and I don't feel that I've got very far at all - but I do understand the setup a little better, so I hope you all won't mind me picking your collective brains. I'm reassured by my day - because I feel pretty certain that the network is working alright; but I'm also disappointed that the original printer issue persists.

    What we have is two Win XP machines (HP desktops, 2Ghz, 512mb RAM) and one Win 98, with a Win 98 server providing ISDN internet connection and a shared laser printer (Epson EPL-5900L). We do not share files over the network, only the printer and internet connection. At the start of the day, I was having difficulty seeing all of the machines using Look@LAN (which is great, by the way!), but I then corrected settings on Kerio firewall on each of the XP machines, and everyone is talking nicely now.

    There has never been a problem with the shared internet connection - only with the printer. And now, even though I can see each of the machines from the server, and see each from every other, there's still this printer problem on the XP machines. The 98 machine works appears to work alright, but really it's an extra machine - just used by visitors occasionally.

    This is what happens: opening a document in Word takes a long time - partly this is antivirus scanning, but it seems much slower than on my own machine. And then we get the error message that's attached. If we click 'Yes', it ticks over for a while, and sometimes asks again, or sometimes open properly; if we click 'No', it will load the document immediately, but we're doomed with regard to printing then. Okay, document is loaded, click 'File' ... 'Print' ... and the same message comes up - click 'No' and yer doomed, click 'Yes' and there's a pause and then it comes up again, click 'Yes' again, and eventually - it's usually three or four cycles of this message - you get the print dialogue and it prints fine.

    I think it's a problem with the connection between the 98 server and the printer - I saw that the printer was set to a power-saving sleep mode, so I turned that off, and I think I've disabled all the other sleep functions, but the problem persists...

    Does anybody have any good ideas? Thanks.
     

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  3. ravin

    ravin Registered Member

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    just want to make sure I understand you correctly...server is win98 and it shares the printer to winxp machine. if so that may be the problem as the drivers at the server are priprietary (misspelled for sure). the xp machine would try to update the drivers on it's end accounting for printer not ready. I may be wrong but hopefully someone else will come along and give a little more insight. as a side note - in our old accounting office them being on win98 and based off of a 2000 server I gave them a parrell connected printer then just mapped the other win98 machines to it.
     
  4. Close_Hauled

    Close_Hauled Registered Member

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    I highly recommend that you purchase an external print server from HP, Netgear, or Linksys. Printer sharing with a PC is too expensive to operate, too inconvenient, and unreliable.

    The best solution is to assign an IP address to the print server. Then create an IP printer port on each of the PCs to the print server. Configure the Epson printer drivers to use the new IP printer port that you created.

    I know it sounds complicated, but it really isn't. You just tell Windows to create a new local printer (not network, and don't scan for a new printer), and then select create port. Select "Standard TCP/IP Port" and enter the information about your print server.

    In the future, buy all of your printers with a built in print server.
     
  5. Close_Hauled

    Close_Hauled Registered Member

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    The 98 machine is just sharing its connection. It is not handling any driver tasks, or modifying the data, it is just a pipeline. Formatting is done on the machine that is sending the print job.
     
  6. Close_Hauled

    Close_Hauled Registered Member

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    There are also some print spooling options that I forgot to mention. On the PC that is sending the job, open the properties of the printer and click on the
    "Advanced" tab. By default, it should say "Spool print documents so program finishes printing faster", and then "Start printing immediatly". Try playing with those settings. I have found that you can fix slowness by adjusting those.
     
  7. ravin

    ravin Registered Member

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    gotta say I agree with everything you said closehauled seeing as m_s is using mapping which was why I brought up the proprietary issue. yes formatting is done on printing machine but changes to server printers from a share are not allowed at least not on my server.
     
  8. M_S

    M_S Registered Member

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    I had figured that printing direct to printer was more reliable and faster, so I made that change before, but I was still getting the error message. Your point about the port, though, is new and sounds good, Close Hauled (you've helped me a few times in the past few days - thanks!). I'm going to go back to my office in awhile and try that this evening - much easier when everyone else has gone home for the night and I can have easy access to all the machines!
     
  9. M_S

    M_S Registered Member

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    Just to make sure I've understood: I assign the print server a fixed i.p. (it already has one - all the machines in the network have fixed i.p.), then add new printer to each machine as a local printer, and enter the print server i.p. as the location. Correct?
     
  10. Paranoid2000

    Paranoid2000 Registered Member

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    M_S,

    If none of the previous suggestions work, try disconnecting your LAN from the Internet before doing a print. If this lessens the delay, then this could be a problem with your Browse Master trying to look up the printers location on the Internet first before searching within your LAN.
     
  11. M_S

    M_S Registered Member

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    Just testing it right now... The document certainly opened much more quickly... But it's been saying 'Preparing to background print' for a long time, and it's only halfway across the progress bar...
     
  12. M_S

    M_S Registered Member

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    No, I don't think that has worked... let me take another look under the hood.
     
  13. M_S

    M_S Registered Member

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    Should the send format be RAW or EMF?
     
  14. ravin

    ravin Registered Member

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    checked mine under properties>advanced tab>print processor
    should see print processor=WinPrint and default datatype=RAW. hope this helps.
     
  15. M_S

    M_S Registered Member

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    Thanks, Ravin. I'm about ready to give up with this, and maybe tomorrow will try connecting the printer to one of the XP machines... Think that'll help?
     
  16. Close_Hauled

    Close_Hauled Registered Member

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    You only set up the port in the case where you have purchased an external print server, like this one:

    http://www.netgear.com/products/details/PS101.php

    or

    http://www.netgear.com/products/details/PS110.php

    HP and Linksys have servers that can handle 3 printers with one box.

    Without the print servers that I mentioned. The only thing that I can recommend, with more details, is tinkering with the spool settings.

    The RAW format is fine, and should not be changed.
     
  17. ravin

    ravin Registered Member

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    can't hurt to try the printer on the xp machine. I like to think that there is a difference in older vs newer operating systems and it may just be that simple. but that's why this forum exists so we can get ideas and thoughts from others. hang in there....
     
  18. Close_Hauled

    Close_Hauled Registered Member

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    I was just simulating your environment in my lab. I just learned that I was wrong about one thing. The printer driver on the Win98 PC is important.

    I configured told a PC that the printer that is hooked up to it is a "Generic/Text Only Printer". Then I told that PC to share the printer. I told a second PC to use the shared printer and that the shared printer was a LaserJet III. The driver on the first computer changed fro "Generic/Text Only" to "HP LaserJet III". Which suprised me because our server does not do this. Our server does not know, nor does it care what the printer is. It has print queuse that it manages, and that is it.

    So the bottom line is that the driver on the Win98 print server needs to be the most recent version.

    Sorry about the confusion. I thought about what I said, and decided to confirm it.
     
  19. M_S

    M_S Registered Member

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    I feel a fool, but a happy one! Tinkered a little more with the firewall before giving up, and it seems to be working! I'm not sure about security aspects of this, so can anyone advise? I'm running Kerio Personal 4, and I noticed that under Applications/Network Security, MS File and Printer Sharing was denied for the trusted zone, so I permitted that - but that wasn't enough, so I then permitted Generic Host Processes and Any Other Application - is this network suicide? What does and doesn't need to be permitted?

    Thanks so much Close Hauled, Ravin and Paranoid 2000, for all your help. I am truly grateful.
     
  20. Close_Hauled

    Close_Hauled Registered Member

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    I believe, and I could be wrong on this, that it was blocking NetBIOS over TCP/IP. NetBIOS over TCP/IP is required on older, pre-Windows 2000 computers in order for the network browser to work properly. Here in my environment, for security reasons, I have removed NetBIOS over TCP/IP on all of the computers. By doing so, I reduced network traffic as well.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NetBIOS

    http://www.microsoft.com/resources/...00/server/reskit/en-us/cnet/cnfi_brs_ECEA.asp
     
    Last edited: Sep 22, 2005
  21. Paranoid2000

    Paranoid2000 Registered Member

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    This poses a risk if a machine in your Trusted Zone gets infected with anything - but as long as security is tight on all your machines (i.e. firewall plus regularly updated malware scanners), this risk should be minimal. For more specific security advice, just search these forums...
     
  22. M_S

    M_S Registered Member

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    I had it working last night, and tested it a few times so I'm pretty sure it was working; but came in this morning, and the same old problem is back. Just to give it a try, I carried the printer over to one of the XP boxes - of course it autoinstalled when I plugged in the USB cable, and then I just elected to share the printer, and it works brilliantly with no further ado... So I am going to figure out how to rearrange the office this week, so that I can have it plugged into the XP box that is switched on most of the time... And I'm pretty sure that'll be the end of my problem.
     
  23. StevieO

    StevieO Guest

    Hi Close_Hauled,

    I don't know about ME etc, but on 98SE you can safely disable NetBIOS as i have been doing for a long time.

    In fact i would say it's essential that you do so for blocking this avenue of attack.


    StevieO
     
  24. Close_Hauled

    Close_Hauled Registered Member

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    Are you using network shares on other PCs with the 98SE? That is what I was talking about, not accessing the web. The ability to browse (or see) all of the other computers on the local network.
     
  25. Close_Hauled

    Close_Hauled Registered Member

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    Please keep us posted. I do highly recommend that you use an external print server though. A friend of mine has a Hewlett-Packard JetDirect 500X in his small office. It supports up to 3 printers and works brilliantly.
     
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