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One of my users' XP computer wouldn't start this morning - the problem turned out to be a corrupt registry, fixed with a chkdsk. Now everything is fine, except he's missing all his printers and can't add any. When I try to add a network printer (by drag and drop or going through the wizard), I get:

Windows cannot connect to the printer. Either the printer name was typed incorrectly, or the specified printer has lost its connection to the server.

Neither of those conditions is true, and the printers all work fine from any other workstation.

Also, if I try to add the printer that's physically connected to LPT1 on his computer, the New Hardware Wizard says:

There was a problem installing this hardware: Hewlett-Packard HP LaserJet 6P

It then gives me the option to install manually, where I get to chose the LPT port - only to find nothing listed in the selection box. The Device Manager shows a happy and healthy LPT1, so I have no idea why it's absent here.

Any ideas? I really don't feel like formatting and reinstalling everything.

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I would remove all printer drivers and then try again.

Here is the MS article on what to do:

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No drivers were installed. It looks like it's formatting time. – user640 Jun 24 '09 at 13:50

OK, I know this sounds like a lame answer, but have you rebooted the PC? I've seen cases where Spool32 crashes, and displays a dialog box that it has to end. BAM! All the Printers disappear in Printers and Faxes, and the Add-a-Printer functions fail. Rebooting (maybe just restarting the Spooler) seems to fix it. Oh, and the users always deny having seen the dialog box that they clicked OK on.

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Yes, I've rebooted (a lot), and there are no Spool32 error messages. – user640 Jun 23 '09 at 20:56
I figured as much, but sometimes the obivous isn't. – BillN Jun 23 '09 at 21:41

I noticed that you skipped something very crucial. After the chkdsk works and you finally get in, I think a rollback is called for to get most everything in your settings back. I think this is quicker for getting the system back than trying to continue one a crippled system. Remember, "if you find yourself in a hole, stop diging"

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up vote 0 down vote accepted

My solution was to reformat the computer.

For anyone else with this problem, I did have a similar incident on a different computer where the culprit was an out-of-date driver for an HP laserjet (which the user in this question did not have - go figure).

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