Windows Explored

Everyday Windows Desktop Support, Advanced Troubleshooting & Other OS Tidbits

The Case of the Failed PDF Print Jobs

Posted by William Diaz on October 11, 2010


I was asked to provide a second opinion to a case where a user was unable to print to PDF using the BullZip virtual printer. There were no errors of any sort but nothing happened anyway. The escalations team had already gone about deleting and reinstalling the software printer to no avail. The issue was also tested under different user accounts, where the printing also failed, which meant we were dealing with a system problem and not something isolated to the local user profile. i.e. the culprit likely resided in HKLM.

To start, our first clue revealed itself in the properties of the BullZip PDF printer:
image
BullZip should not configure itself as a Local Port since it is not a physical print device. Attempting to correct this, I checked the correct port as in the image above. However, after applying the new setting and closing, the problem port reared itself again after opening the properties again to confirm. Furthermore, it was not possible to select this port and delete using the Delete Port button.

As mentioned previously, reinstalling failed to correct this. This is because the BullZip installation does not check the Ports registry key for an existing BullZip port since it doesn’t create one to begin with. To correct, the Local Port for BullZip would need to be deleted manually. This could be done a couple different ways*. Local printer ports are created in the registry. Opening regedit, I navigated to HKLM\Software\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Ports and deleted the BullZip string.

With the BullZip port deleted, it was a simple matter of rebooting so that port was correctly reset. Alternatively, reinstalling the BullZip PDF printer also worked. What mechanism created this string or why, I don’t know. I haven’t seen it more than a couple times so far. However, the problem can be recreated by simply creating a string value named BullZip in the registry location above and rebooting the workstation. Oddly enough, through no obvious action of my own, I ran into this problem on my own workstation a few weeks after discovering it.


*The other method is to delete the BullZip Printer itself and then remove the port by going into the Print Server Properties > Ports and deleting the BullZip Local Port. Follow also with a reboot or reinstall of BullZip, which ever is quicker.

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