™. It seems like print spooler crashes are more common than ever lately. It's surprising with Microsoft's driver certification programs and device driver signing requirements, both efforts to limit instability caused by poor quality hardware drivers. There's only so much an OS manufacturer can do to limit the problems caused by the bugs in device drivers. Most servers only have a NIC driver, a disk driver, and a video driver to be concerned with, but print servers can have lots of buggy print drivers installed, making it very difficult to isolate which one is crashing the spooler or worse, crashing the whole box.
The spooler runs as a user mode process (running under the identity that the service is configured to start with), and makes user mode function calls to the device driver, which in turn make kernel mode calls to low level OS functions. Bugs in the user mode functions of the print driver can crash the spooler service. Bugs in kernel mode functions can crash the whole box. If the box crashes, a blue screen of death can occur, and the box, if configured to do so, will reboot itself, restoring service in a minute or two. If the spooler crashes, it will sit there dead until you restart the service. That's where SpoolWatch comes in.
SpoolWatch was developed to address the problem of a bad print driver crashing the spooler service. It constantly monitors the status of the spooler service and restarts within seconds after a crash. This allows your users to get back to the business of printing instead of calling you with word that the print server is down, again. SpoolWatch effectively masks the problem of print server outages from the point of view of the user, but it will log events in the Windows event log so that you can continue to monitor spooler crashes, so that you can continue to hunt for the bad driver.
ITAdminTools is looking hard at ways to identify bad drivers, it's a tough nut to crack, and we'll keep working on it. When we find a solution, we'll let you know. In the mean time, we offer SpoolWatch as a solution to automatically restart the print spooler so that your print server keeps printing, your users stay happy, and you keep your sanity while we all test new print drivers.
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SpoolWatch will run on any version of Windows where the .Net Framework version 2.0 or later is installed, but was developed and was tested for Windows 2008 R2 x64 and Windows 2003 R2 x86.