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Catching the Person Printing Contraband

Novell Cool Solutions: Tip
By David Cooney

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Posted: 21 Jun 2002

Here's an ingenious way to find out who's been leaving printouts lying around of stuff that's prohibited by your company policies. This could be a very helpful technique as you try to keep the workplace free of harassment. For more on this topic, see Employee Privacy Versus Corporate Security.

If inappropriate content (specifically pictures) has been printed and left at the printer, you can do the following to determine what account was used to print it. Be advised that this is both lengthy and time consuming!

Printouts from Netscape, and maybe Internet Explorer (I don't remember) include both the date and time that the page was printed on the footer. Go to queue where the inappropriate print was done and put it on hold. (Check the queue object properties to see what the directory name is.) Run salvage in its directory. Look for large files that were deleted around the time of the printout. Make a note of the deletor's name and salvage likely files (do this one at a time), then copy them to a different location.

Use a different queue that uses the same or compatible model printer (it's best if this is not generally accessible) and put it on hold. Print anything to that queue so that it will create the queue file in the directory. Copy the file you salvaged to that queue's directory with the same name as the file that's there. Take the queue off of hold and the file will be printed. If what comes out is the offending printout you will now know what user account (the deletor's name) printed it.

If you have any questions you may contact David at

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