Tech Tip: Disable the printer browse thread to reduce network traffic in Windows NT

There are several issues you can encounter with a network printer. Find out how you can make a quick registry edit to minimize network traffic.

In another article, we told you how to change the default location of the spooling folder for all printers or for individual printers to free up space on your system hard drive. However, as you know, this is only one of the many issues you can encounter with a network printer.

When you share a printer in Windows NT, the spooler creates a thread that broadcasts a message to all Windows NT print servers, informing the print servers of the new print share. Each of these print servers adds the new print share name to its local printer browse list.

In addition, each print server rebroadcasts the list of its local printers to all print servers every 10 minutes. Although this ensures that all Windows NT print servers have current browse lists, it can also cause extensive network traffic.

To mitigate this, you can make a quick registry edit to disable the printer browse thread. Disabling the thread reduces network traffic, but keep in mind that it also keeps the print servers from knowing about new print shares.

Follow these steps:

  1. Open the Registry Editor (Regedt32).
  2. Navigate to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\Print.
  3. Go to Edit | Add Value.
  4. Enter the following to disable the printer browse thread:
    Value Name: DisableServerThread
    Data Type: REG_DWORD
    Value Data: 1
  5. Close the Registry Editor, and restart the computer.

If you later decide that you want to reenable the printer browse thread, follow these same directions, but set the Value Data to 0.

Note: Editing the registry is risky, so be sure you have a verified backup before making any changes.