If you’re getting error messages like “Print Spooler Error” or “Printer Connection Failed,” try disabling and re-enabling the Print Spooler service to see if it fixes the problem. However, because of the “PrintNightmare” vulnerability, Windows users now have another reason to disable the Print Spooler service.
What is PrintNightmare?
Last month, Microsoft acknowledged that the “PrintNightmare” vulnerability could affect all versions of Windows. However, there is a simple way to protect your system from this flaw.
On August 10th, Microsoft issued a patch to address the issue. However, it was soon discovered that attackers could still use the Print Spooler service to run code that would allow them to install apps, manipulate your data, or create accounts with SYSTEM privileges.
Microsoft confirmed this claim and said, “A remote code execution vulnerability exists when the Windows Print Spooler service improperly performs privileged file operations.”
Disabling Print Spooler until Microsoft releases a proper fix makes sense. We’ll walk you through the steps to disable Print Spooler and protect your system against the new PrintNightmare CVE-2021-36598 vulnerability in this guide.
The most recent fix was released on September 14th, so make sure you have the most recent Windows updates installed to get this patch.
If you disable this service, you won’t be able to print or fax anything from your Windows PC.
Disable Print Spooler Using Group Policy Editor
You can change the Print Spooler service policy from the Group Policy Editor if you have Windows 10 Pro or Windows 10 Enterprise. Skip to the next method if you’re using Windows 10 Home.
The vulnerability can no longer be exploited once the Print Spooler service policy has been disabled.
- Press Win + R and type gpedit.msc. Press Enter to launch the Local Group Policy Editor.
- Use the left pane to navigate to Computer Configuration > Administrative Templates > Printers.
- On the right pane, look for Allow Print Spooler to accept client connections.
- Double-click on the setting. Change the state from Not configured to Disabled.
- Select Apply and OK to save changes and exit.
Disable Print Spooler From the Services App
Before you disable the Print Spooler service, keep in mind that you won’t be able to print or fax from your PC if you do so. You’ll need to re-enable the service if you need to print or fax something.
- Press Win + R and type services.msc. Press Enter and this should launch the Services panel.
- Scroll through the list of services and search for “Print Spooler”.
- Double-click on Print Spooler and change the Startup type to Disabled.
- Next, the service may already be running on your system so you’ll need to stop it. Select Stop to terminate the service and select OK to save changes and exit.
Disable Print Spooler from System Configuration
System Configuration can be used to disable the Print Spooler service. This method, on the other hand, achieves the same result as the previous method, but in a different way. After you’ve disabled the service using this method, you won’t be able to print or fax on your Windows PC.
- Press Win + R and type msconfig. Press Enter to launch System Configuration.
- Navigate to the Services tab and look for Print Spooler.
- Uncheck the box next to the Print Spooler service to disable it. Press OK to save changes and exit.
- This process will disable the service, but it will not stop it if it is already running on the system, so you’ll need to restart the computer to finish.
Disable Print Spooler Using PowerShell
The PowerShell method disables the service in the same way as the other two. You won’t be able to print or fax after using this method to disable the service.
- Press Win + X and select Windows PowerShell (Admin).
- Execute the following commands:
Stop-Service -Name Spooler -Force
Set-Service -Name Spooler -StartupType Disabled
If the Print Spooler service is already running on your system, the first command will stop it. The following command stops the service from starting automatically in the future.
- Exit PowerShell.
Your System is Now Secure
You won’t have to worry about PrintNightmare once you’ve disabled Print Spooler. Make sure that automatic updates are enabled so that you can receive the fix as soon as Microsoft releases it (the final fix was hopefully released 3 days ago). You can then enable Print Spooler again, allowing you to print normally from your machine.