Technical: Microsoft – Windows and that one Wireless Laptop that will not print

Technical: Microsoft – Windows and that one Wireless Laptop that will not print

Understandably, the Net is full of what to do to get Aunt Sallie laptop’s to print.

Our setup is a fairly ordinary home setting.  There are 4 laptops in the little network.  There are two desktops.  The printer is connected via a USB cable to one of the home computers; for the rest of our story we will call it SALLY-PC.

Sally-PC is hard-wired to the AT&T/SBC 2-WIRE DSL/Wireless Access Point (WAP).

What can go wrong

Home Desktop is off

As our printer is being served or getting its network presence from the home desktop, the home computer has to be on anytime we want to print.

Obviously, Windows Sharing should be enabled, as well.  And, the Printer should be shared and accesible to everyone including the anonymous user.

Unfortunately, this is a not a Domain Based (Active Directory) network and so authentication has to be taken care of via anonymous user enablement or matching username & password.

Obviously it helps for the home desktop to have a static and reliable IP Address.  Otherwise keep is mind that in a small network, network discovery is attained via  Netbios.

Here is a quick and easy to follow-up write-up on Netbios Name Resolution:

How NetBIOS name resolution really works (Robert L. Bogue)

Though Robert’s post was written on March 2003, it is still so fresh and reliable.

So that was last week’s problem; the printing desktop was offline.

Wireless Connection (Public and Private Network)

Once again everything came to a head this last week.  Everybody can print, besides Aunt Sallie.

Tried to troubleshoot over the phone. Aunt Sally is feeling picked on; everyone can print outside her.

So she had little Robert on the phone to talk to me.

Had him try everything:

  • In the run window, issue \\desktop-name; in our case \\SALLIE-DESKTOP (failed)
  • Access Command Shell, issue ping desktop-name; in our case  ping SALLIE-DESKTOP (succeeded)
  • Ensured that laptop can still access the Internet

Since \\SALLIE-DESKTOP was not accessible, I knew we had a connectivity error.  But, Internet and ping still worked, so just was not so sure.

I suspected that laptop might have jumped on someone else’s wireless network, but as SALLIE-DESKTOP was ping-able, I felt a bit unlikely.

I really should have Lil Robert try tracert and make that the network path was good.  But, in a little network that does not always go through the Gateway that itself might not be too revealing.

So drove down and see for myself.

Messed around a bit.  Tried Network Neighborhood:

Laptop:  What computers are seen:
On Lil Roberts Laptop: Lil Robert Laptop, desktop (SALLIE-DESKTOP)
On Aunt Sallie’s Laptop: Aunt Sallie Laptop

So I knew somehow those computers were ending up on different network.  I would have swore those computers were on different networks.

So I thought of Windows Domain.  But, even with computers being on different domain, Windows does well and brings up an Authenticating Screen and ask you to supply a username and password.

Then I got that good break.  On Sallie’s laptop, In the Control Panel, “Network and Sharing Center”, I saw that the 2-Wire network was identified as a “Public Network”.

Network and Sharing Center - Public Network

But, on Lil Robert’s laptop, the same network was identified as a “Private Network”.

So went back to Aunt Sallie’s laptop and changed her network profile from “Public Network” to “Private Network”.

Here are the steps:

  • Control Panel \ Network and Internet \ Network and Sharing Center
  • By the network you want to amend, click on the “Customize” link
  • Our choice now is to choose between Public (for “Public place” networks) or Private (for “Home” or “Work” networks)
  • Obviously as it a home \ work network, we chose Private Network


Here is the screen post setting the Network Location to private.

Network and Sharing Center - Set Network Location


Things worked!  Aunt Sallie can now print…

But, as I always say, if you want to really know something, you really have to do a quick write-up which is always firmed up by what others are seeing and shared.

On some computers, you will be un-able to toggle between Public to Private Network.

Here are some web links that that can guide you by altering Windows a bit and have Windows expose that functionality:

Changing Network Location Type in Windows 8 (Professional & Home)

Though the sources identified above and very well written, I still found it difficult to make these changes in the following situations:

  • Where the computer is part of a Windows Domain; it is probably that arbitrarily making these changes will offset all the hard work that has gone into making Active Domain the suitable domain technology that it is…    


Of course some of the problems mentioned above can be avoided by choosing the following alternatives:

  • Print Server – That way one will only have to worry about the print server network presence & configuration; and not about the ‘fronting’ windows box
  • New printers have wireless access – Again just configure wireless access on your printer and you are off and running
  • Network Enable your printer


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