How can I get my laptop to print wirelessly again?
January 21, 2007 4:15 PM   Subscribe

How can I get my laptop to print wirelessly to an HP DeskJet 6980 like it used to?

Okay, so I've got a ThinkPad T42 with XP Home SP2 and Intel 2200BG.

I bought one of HP's DeskJet 6980 inkjets with wireless built in, and I used to be able to connect and print to it flawlessly for the first few months, but just as soon as I installed this IPSec client for my school's wireless network (I never got the client to work), I couldn't print to my printer wirelessly anymore. My laptop still connects to the printer's ad hoc network, but I can't get access anything that requires communication between the computer and printer (printer status, remaining ink levels, etc.), and every time I attempt to print, the print job hangs for about a minute and I get this message. Trying to ping it through DOS returns some message along the lines of "configuration error." Given that I could never get the IPSec software to work, I uninstalled it, but the problem remained. (Incidentally, the laptop still works just fine with every other wireless network.)

I've tried contacting HP support on the issue both over their online chat (not helpful at all) and their phone number (at least the guy tried), but nothing that they suggested ultimately helped. I've tried different IP and firewall configurations, I've attempted all sorts of ipconfig trickery, I've reset the printer to factory settings several times, and I've uninstalled and reinstalled the printer software probably about 5 or 6 times. Every time, it still works completely the same - it prints fine and easily via USB, it works over an ethernet/patch cable after about 10 minutes of cajoling.

The curious thing, though, is that I can get it to print wirelessly just as easily as it used to when, and only when I connect the computer via ethernet cable to my desktop (which, incidentally, is neither wireless, nor is it connected to the printer). Every time, I connect the cable, the local area network icon in the system tray comes up with the little yellow/exclamation point warning bubble (this happens every time), I select "repair connection," and like magic, not only does this let me access shared folders on the other computer, the wi-fi printing on my laptop works again. I know that repairing the wired connection seems to go through some things like renewing the IP address and clearing (I think) NetBT cache or something to that effect. Nevertheless, after that, every time I wake the computer from standby or restart, I can't print wirelessly again.

So what gives? How can I get my laptop to do whatever it's doing when it connects to the other computer and repairs automatically, or figure out what the IPSec install screwed up in the first place?

If anyone can actually help me out with this, much, much, much thanks - I've been trying to fix this for months...
posted by stleric to Computers & Internet (7 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I can't get to your error message screenshot, so I'm going to have a blind stab.

I've said it before and I'll say it again: HP printer drivers, and HP driver installers, suck disastrously. Running the HP uninstaller doesn't even come close to putting your machine back to the way it was before you ran the installer.

The only semi-reliable way I know to make a misbehaving HP printer driver behave again is to uninstall it, then reinstall the printer as a local printer, including actually plugging it in via USB or LPT when the installer prompts for this; then, once the thing is working as a local printer, mess with the printer settings to redirect the connection via the network.

If you've already tried this, you've basically got four options:

1. Back up all your user-generated files, do a clean Windows install on your laptop, reinstall all your apps and the printer driver, restore your files and hope you didn't miss any. Time budget: about a solid day.

2. Get a wireless PCI card for your desktop computer, install the HP printer on that as a local printer, and use your desktop computer as a print server.

3. Plug in your USB printer cable every time you want to print.

4. Ditch the HP printer and buy a Canon.

I'd love to be proved wrong. Lots of schools have HP printers, and it would be nice to find better workarounds for dealing with their stupid problems.
posted by flabdablet at 6:35 PM on January 21, 2007

I looked at the VPN tool you linked to, I noticed that it replaces your ipsec policies and it doesn't restore the policies when the program is uninstalled.

You might try deleting the Bluesocket policy, restart your computer, and see if you can print.

Go to start and then run type secpol.msc and click OK.

Under IP Security Policies on local computer delete the BlueSocket policy. Close the window and restart your computer.

This is just a shot in the dark but it may help.
posted by tresbizzare at 7:32 PM on January 21, 2007

Response by poster: The message in the image that I linked to says:

"The print spooler was unable to connect to your printer. This can be caused by your printer being turned off, the cable being unplugged, or being connected to a VPN, which will block your access to your local network.

Your document will print when the printer becomes available."

Run isn't finding a secpol.msc, but under Microsoft Management Console (is that relevant?), I can't find a mention of Bluesocket anywhere. I kind of expected as much, though, that the Bluesocket tool would scramble IP settings and not change them back when uninstalled.

In my Program Files, there is still a "Bluesocket MS IPSec Configuration Tool" with a BlueService.exe file inside that "must be started as a service." I don't see any obvious sign of it in or around the Management Console, either as its own process or under IPSEC Services.
posted by stleric at 9:16 PM on January 21, 2007

Try renaming BlueService.exe as Blueservice.exe.renamed (you may have to start in Safe Mode to make this possible, if the file is actually in use) and restarting.
posted by flabdablet at 2:37 AM on January 22, 2007

Response by poster: After looking around online and fiddling with regedit for a bit, I was able to get IP Security Policies to pop up in XP Home, and found (ta-da!) a Bluesocket policy there. I deleted it and restarted, but alas, printing problems persist... Thanks for your help, though!

flabdablet, I'll give the renaming a shot...
posted by stleric at 9:19 AM on January 22, 2007

XP Home doesn't have secpol.msc, so I assume that when you say you deleted the policy, what you actually did was use regedit to delete some registry keys from a policy sub-branch.

The way policy setting generally work is that they cause other settings elsewhere in the registry to be set to certain predefined values that implement the corresponding policies. It's these other settings that actually affect the behavior of the machine. Simply deleting the policy keys means that those other values will no longer be messed with by the policy engine - but it doesn't mean that they will be restored to their pre-policy-affected settings.

However, you did say that you found a method for making your printing work for the rest of the current Windows session (establish a second network connection and repair it). Now that you've deleted the policy keys, try doing that again, and see if the fix now persists across sessions.
posted by flabdablet at 3:12 PM on January 22, 2007

Response by poster: I found it under Administrative Tools, and was able to add the IP-related snap-ins to Microsoft Management Console, and deleted it there - if what I read online is right, I was only able to do that by having altered a registry setting.

I connected and rebooted - no dice, it still isn't printing. Thanks for the help, though!
posted by stleric at 6:48 PM on January 23, 2007

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