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If you dislike dealing with complaints related to printing failures and want to proactively remediate them before angry end users blow up your inbox, you’re going to love this post.


Recently, I was working with a large healthcare system that has over 15 sites, 5,000 end users, and a Citrix XenApp 6.5 environment on VMware. Their healthcare IT team had a goal to proactively get ahead of end user complaints stemming from printing failures. 

The healthcare IT team had three specific printer issues to solve for their end users:

  1. Printer Spooler Failures
  2. Printer Driver Corruptions
  3. Printer Mapping Issues

To help the team achieve their goal, we deployed Goliath Performance Monitor (GPM) and leveraged the Printing Health Report, which is just 1 of 66 IT performance and end user experience reports that come out-of-the-box with GPM. 

Challenge – Mega Printing Failure Issues & No Clue as to Root Cause 

This healthcare IT teams challenge was to troubleshoot and fix the root cause of a multitude of printing issues. No problem. So we began solving the issues by using a combination of our Printing Health Report and remediation actions to resolve their printing issues.

Step 1: Schedule Goliath’s Printing Health Report to Categorize Printing Issues that Occurred over a 24-hour Period

First, we brought in the healthcare system’s Citrix XenApp environment through our ‘First Time Run Wizard’ using our APIs for Citrix. Once the Citrix infrastructure was listed in inventory, we deployed our Intelligent Agent to the Citrix session hosts and role servers to gain deeper visibility into the Citrix Supporting Infrastructure.

Yes, an Agent. Our Intelligent Agent is not what you think; the Agent uses less than 0.1% CPU1.5 MB on disk, about 50 to 80 MB RAM, and no reboot is required. Despite the size of the organization and network security complexity, Goliath’s Agent was deployed to the environment within minutes and we were able to instantly begin collecting data.

To help the healthcare system pinpoint the exact issues taking place in their environment, we scheduled the Printing Health Report (below) to categorize and summarize printing issues that were occurring over a 24-hour period.

printing-health-report-goliath-performance-monitor

This report identifies all printing issues that are occurring in the environment, so that they can be broken down and addressed. In this customer’s environment, these issues included:

  • Printer Spooler Failures
  • Printer Driver Corruptions
  • Printer Mapping Issues

Step 2 – Use the Printing Health Report to Troubleshoot & Fix Driver Corruption Events + Printer Mapping Issues

Using the Printing Health Report (above), the healthcare IT team was able to use the information to analyze the faults and errors in to walk through the environment and systematically resolve the issues that were occurring:

  • Driver corruption events: the report allowed the administrator to identify the driver type and servers experiencing driver corruption so they could reinstall the right drivers on the right XenApp Gold Images.
  • Printer mapping issues: they were able to find that the mapping issues were coming from printers that were not on the organization’s approved printers list – some users had refused to let go of their trusty HP LaserJet 4100. For some users, the health system made exceptions, but the rest had to get new printers.

Just by making these few changes, the healthcare IT team was able to resolve the majority of their printer mapping issues that were occurring.

Step 3 – Activate Goliath’s Print Service Error – Print Spooler Service Alert

Following the changes, we ran the Printing Health Report again see how the environment was acting. The report results still included some errors in regards to the print spooler, but that was to be expected.

So to handle the print spooler issues, we enabled some of our out-of-the-box IT performance alerts for the print spooler and created some remediation actions to resolve these issues automatically when they occurred to keep the end users working.

One of the alerts we enabled was the Print Service Error – Print Spooler Service alert which alerts the healthcare IT staff if the print spooler service stopped and failed.

With this alert, we also enabled the out-of-the-box remediation to restart the print spooler service. If the print spooler service was stopped for at least 3 minutes, Goliath Performance Monitor would automatically attempt to restart the service. By having our technology execute the remediation action automatically it helped save time normally taken by the help desk and IT staff to manually execute the restart.

citrix-print-spooler-fail-automated-fix-actions-goliath-technologies

Step 4 – Configure Monitoring Rules for ‘cpsvc.exe’ & ‘splwow64.exe’ to Identify High CPU + Memory Usage

Because of how print spooler failures would occur, we needed to also monitor the print spooler processes in case they got hung, so we configured monitoring rules for ‘cpsvc.exe’ and ‘splwow64.exe’ to identify when they experienced high CPU and memory usage.

High resource utilization on these processes can cause the print spooler to crash or hang. In addition to configuring email notification, we also configured remediation actions for this alert to resolve the condition before it impacted printing and server performance.

citrix-printer-fail-custom-script-fix-action-goliath-technologies

One of the healthcare system’s engineers wrote a script so that when one of these processes spiked in resources, the script would terminate the process, clear the print queue, and notify the end users to resubmit their print job. This custom script was then applied to the alert so when a failure took place, the script would execute automatically.

By using Goliath Performance Monitor’s ability to automate fix actions, the healthcare system was able to be proactive instead of reactive. In doing so, they were able reduce printer failure support tickets as well as lighten the load of their help desk team.

Get a 30-day Free Trial or Demo of Goliath Performance Monitor

To get a fully supported 30-day free trial or demo of the proactive Goliath Performance Monitor simply complete the form below. Or, if you would like to speak to the author, Heather, you can reach her at (855)-465-4284 or techinfo@goliathtechnologies.com

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About 

Heather Hanlon is a Senior Technical Analyst with Goliath Technologies and as such, works with customers daily to help them move from reactive to proactive in IT. Heather is an author on IT Insights from the Front Line where she shares her experiences working with customers to solve the formidable challenge of Being Proactive.

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