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What exactly Spooling is all about?

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  • Difficulty Level : Easy
  • Last Updated : 08 Jul, 2022

SPOOL is an acronym for simultaneous peripheral operations on-line.  It is a kind of buffering mechanism or a process in which data is temporarily held to be used and executed by a device, program or the system. Data is sent to and stored in memory or other volatile storage until the program or computer requests it for execution.

In a computer system peripheral equipments, such as printers and punch card readers, etc (batch processing), are very slow relative to the performance of the rest of the system. Getting input and output from the system was quickly seen to be a bottleneck. Here comes the need for spool.

Spooling works like a typical request queue where data, instructions and processes from multiple sources are accumulated for execution later on. Generally, it is maintained on computer’s physical memory, buffers or the I/O device-specific interrupts. The spool is processed in FIFO manner i.e. whatever first instruction is there in the queue will be popped and executed.

Applications/Implementations of Spool:

1) The most common can be found in I/O devices like keyboard printers and mouse. For example, In printer, the documents/files that are sent to the printer are first stored in the memory or the printer spooler. Once the printer is ready, it fetches the data from the spool and prints it.

Even experienced a situation when suddenly for some seconds your mouse or keyboard stops working? Meanwhile, we usually click again and again here and there on the screen to check if its working or not. When it actually starts working, what and wherever we pressed during its hang state gets executed very fast because all the instructions got stored in the respective device’s spool.

2) A batch processing system uses spooling to maintain a queue of ready-to-run jobs which can be started as soon as the system has the resources to process them.

3) Spooling is capable of overlapping I/O operation for one job with processor operations for another job. i.e. multiple processes can write documents to a print queue without waiting and resume with their work.

4) E-mail: an email is delivered by a MTA (Mail Transfer Agent) to a temporary storage area where it waits to be picked up by the MA (Mail User Agent)

5) Can also be used for generating Banner pages (these are the pages used in computerized printing in order to separate documents from each other and to identify e.g. the originator of the print request by username, an account number or a bin for pickup. Such pages are used in office environments where many people share the small number of available resources).


About the Author:

Ekta is a  very active contributor on Geeksforgeeks. Currently studying at Delhi Technological University. She has also made a Chrome extension for to practice MCQs randomly. She can be reached at

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