So I get an email this afternoon from Mitch regarding a problem he’s been fighting:

“I have a HP laserjet setup on the network. It is using a castele print
server. It has an IP address and all the workstations have no problem
printing to it. Added to each workstation as a local printer using the
ip address. (added using generic card and ip address)

SBS Server refuses to print to this printer. I can ping it, It will let
me add the printer, and when i try to print to it it shows up in the
print queue, but then times out with the stupid error 61 I have been
reading about.“

Well, I personally haven’t seen this issue before.  As a pure shot in the dark, I suggested Mitch try disabling SMB Signing and see if that helped.  Well, I happened to get lucky as Mitch confirmed that disabling SMB Signing resolved the issue.  (And yes, that means that I have used my luck quota for this decade . . . so much for winning the lottery any time soon!)   So if you see this – you should try disabling SMB Signing on your SBS and see if that helps.  You can get step by step instructions from the M&M’s site:

But Mitch’s email raises another question:  When you run across a problem that just has to stumped, where do you go for help?  Blogs can contain several tech tidbits – but really aren’t a good source of tech support . . . and as much as I enjoy helping SBSers, I really don’t do email support.  Well, OK – I do . . . for my own customers with service agreements . . . so if you want email support – just ping me and I’ll fax over a contract for you to sign, and we can get started right after the check clears the bank  . . .  ;^)

But seriously – where do you find support for those tough, and downright weird issues?  Well, in SBS land you have a plethora of choices . . .   For community resources, you have:

Microsoft Public Newsgroups:

Grey’s SBS2k Yahoo! Group:

Mariette & Marina’s forms:  (Registraiton required to access forums)

Nick’s SBS forum at Mark Minasi’s site:

And don’t forget that you always have official Microsoft support:

For Microsoft Partners – visit the Partner Managed newsgroups for free Microsoft PSS support:
Also – partners . . .  you are aware of Business Critical Phone Support, correct?  As a partner, you get a set number of Business Critical support incidents per year.  You have to sign in to the partner site and register with Business Critical support – but then you’re good to go.  So if you have a client that has a problem that is impairing their ability to work (server down, etc.) – you can call for Business Critical phone support – which is FREE . . . (but you have to be registered :^)

If you find a Microsoft Knowledgebase article that indicates you need to contact PSS to obtain the hotfix, know that HOTFIXES are FREE . . .  yep – they won’t even ask you for payment info.  Just follow the prompts when you call and one of your options will be ‘…to obtain a hotfix’

If you have a problem as a result of applying a Service Pack – contact PSS.  Just like hotfixes, SERVICE PACK support is FREE . . .  yep – free.  Just indicate when you call in that you are having a problem with Service Pack <whatever> and you’ll be good to go.

And finally – if you’ve exhausted all other avenues and are still having problems, call PSS for paid support.  A lot of small businesses look at the $245 price tag  and grumble – but I’ve got to tell you, that is one of the most undervalued bargins around.  What does that $245 get you?  A solution – and nothing less.  No matter how many phone calls or emails it takes, no matter how many PSS engineers get involved, it doesn’t matter – you *will* get the problem resolved.

Luckily, I haven’t had to contact PSS but 3 times in 4 years . . . the first was a bug with the SBS2000 Technology Guarantee media where setup didn’t like the CD Key.  Took two days and several dozen regenerated CD Keys before we found one it liked.  But that’s what I get for being on the bleeding edge and moving from SBS4.5 to SBS2k the day after I got the media :^)    Second call was a Service Pack issue . . . applying SQL SP3a to an SBS2k box we acquired that was still at SQL GOLD . . .   MDAC upgrade blew up (we later determined) and was causing all sorts of issues.  Spent six hours with PSS on a Tuesday night working through that one.  Last call was just a few months ago.  Clean install of SBS2k3 that I was building in our shop.  Finished the install and was patching the box.  Applied the OWA gzip patch and Exchange SP1 and rebooted – and the box fell over – took an hour an a half to boot.  Discovered that booting into safe mode and disabling Exchange services let it boot normally.  That was another 6hr PSS call – working with two engineers no less . . .  :^)

The point is that Microsoft PSS ROCKS!  They are by and far the best vendor support I have ever experienced – and IMHO they set the standard for what Product Support should be.  There’s a lot of companies out there who charge less for support – but don’t provide anywhere near the level of support that Microsoft does.