Troubleshooting printer problems can be frustrating. Printers are one of those devices we use everyday and never think about until there is a problem with it. Finding the problem with a printer is the toughest part of the troubleshooting process because printers will not often give you a good explanation, despite having installed software on your machine and often having fancy LED screens on them. These screens will often merely say “Error” or “Error 000923b” as if that little piece of knowledge is supposed to help the end-user resolve the issue in a timely manner.
Five Steps For Troubleshooting Printer Problems
Shut it off and turn it back on. While it seems too easy to be true, the mere act of powering off a printer and powering it back on could fix random networking and communication issues. Or it may simply clear its memory. But since it’s the quickest and easiest thing to try, give it a shot. If that doesn’t work, you might also try powering down the computer. If there is a problem with the computer’s printer service, rebooting might correct it.
Clear the print jobs from the queue. To open the queue, go to Start>Settings>Printers or just look in the control panel for the printer icon. Double-click on your printer and it will open the active jobs. If there are more than one in the queue, you can normally get away with deleting the top job, as that is holding the rest of them up.
Check for low toner. If you’re still using an ink jet printer, chances are you’re replacing the toner on a weekly basis. Our first piece of advice regarding toner is to get rid of your ink jet and buy an economical laser printer. But if you want to stick with an ink jet, be aware that some models simply will not print if you are low on toner. The job will sit there in your printer queue until you replace the toner or the world ends and it might not even tell you that its low on toner, which is the bad part. In the old days–like two years ago, colors would begin to streak when toner was getting low. What makes it even more criminal is that some printers out of, say, yellow ink, will not even print a black and white document until the color cartridge is replaced.
Check the IP address of the printer or the USB connection. Depending on how your computer is connected, you may need to address communication problems between the computer and the printer. If it is connected via a USB cable, try unplugging the USB cable from the computer or the printer side. You should see something happen on the computer’s screen. When a USB device is plugged in, you should notice a message pop-up down by your clock. This indicates that Windows recognizes a USB device has just been plugged into the PC. If you do not see this, your USB port could be bad, the cable might be bad or the printer itself might have died. Try other USB devices in that port to rule it out as being the culprit. You might even be able to swap out the USB cable with another.
If the printer is on a network, make sure the printer has the correct IP address. Typically, a network printer will be assigned a static IP address that never changes. Go through the menu options and make sure the network settings and IP address are configured properly. Some printers will even allow you to print out a configuration page that is easier to read.
Troubleshooting Printer Problems – Uninstall Printer
If you are still troubleshooting printer problems, try completely uninstalling the printer. Go to the manufacturer’s website and download the latest driver, then reinstall the printer using the latest driver. Chances are, the driver has not been updated, but it might have been updated since your printer shipped and the problem you are experiencing might have been corrected in the update.
If you need more help troubleshooting printer problems, check out our other printer articles.