Helpful Tips and Tricks

Tips for Avoiding Printer Problems

new baby in the house by Jim Bendon, on Flickr
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Common Printer Problems and how to Avoid Them

Most folks these days have a printer attached to their computer or laptop at home, and most certainly at work.  There’s nothing worse than being in a mad dash to get something done only to have your printer malfunction during the process.  So I wanted to go over a few possible problems you may encounter with your printer and some tips on how to avoid them.

Keep the Firmware Updated

Most printers today have some sort of on board firmware that controls certain printer functions.  These firmware packages may become outdated which means you need to update them in order to fix certain bugs.  Updating your firmware may also increase printer performance and may offer new features that you may not be aware exist.  Now not all printers have a firmware system in place. Just take a look at the instruction booklet that came with your printer and it should reveal if your printer can be updated.  Most firmware packages can be updated via the manufacturer website and are easy to download and install.

Keep your Printer Drivers up to Date

In order for a printer to function with your operating system, it takes a specific printer driver.  The driver is a file that converts your document information into a readable form that is specific to your printer model.  Without the driver file installed, your printer will not be able to translate your document.  Each operating system requires a different driver file depending on which model of printer you have.  So if you update or change operating systems, or are installing your printer for the first time, be sure you are installing the correct driver file for that printer and operating system.  Driver files are one of the top problem areas when dealing with malfunctioning hardware.  You may also find the proper driver files on the printer’s manufacturers website.  Just go to the site and look for a support page, and there is usually a section for downloading drivers.  Then select the proper printer model and operating system, and download the driver file.  Most are usually in the form of an executable, so they are easy to install by double clicking on the file.

Using a Universal Printer Driver

If you are running a business and have multiple terminals, then you may have computers using different operating systems.  Plus if you have these terminals networked together, and are sharing a printer between them, then drivers may become an issue.  Like we discussed, each operating system will require a specific driver.  So installing a universal print driver may eliminate the need for each computer having it’s own driver in order to share the printer on the network.  If the universal print driver doesn’t work on all computers, then you may be able to install an additional driver on the computer that controls the printer.

Bad Printer Alignment

Have you ever printed a document, envelope or label and the image came out crooked?  This is probably due to the printer alignment not being adjusted properly.  Most all printers have a few maintenance functions, some give you options for a nozzle check, nozzle cleaning and or alignment.  The alignment of your printer is easy to correct, just select the printer alignment option in the maintenance section of your printer software and perform the step by step instructions.  When printing envelopes or labels, be sure you configuring the applications print function properly.  For instance with Microsoft Word, there is a special tab for printing envelopes and it will walk you through options for envelope size etc.  Also be sure you are loading your paper, envelopes or labels properly.  Be sure not to jam the paper in, set it in gently and let the printer do the work.  Otherwise you will increase the chances of having a paper jam, which is a big mess to fix sometimes.

Keep Extra Printer Supplies

There’s nothing worse than getting ready to print a string of documents and realize you are out of ink, or paper.  Monitoring your printer supplies is a good thing to add to your work or home computing checklist.  Most printers will have an option either on the printer itself or within the printer software to check your current ink levels. It is a good idea to always have at least one set of backup ink cartridges and at least an extra package of paper ready to go.  Of course depending on the volume of printing you do, you may need to adjust the model stock on these items.  The main point being, don’t let yourself run out.  Ink is a very expensive item to purchase, so you may be able to find refillable cartridges for your printer model.  These can save a ton in ink expenses.  They can be a little messy and may not work properly for all models of printer, but it’s worth checking in to.


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25 thoughts on “Tips for Avoiding Printer Problems
  1. This is really helpful. There’so many times I had bad times with some printers in the office. I hope that this will solve the cases. Thanks.

  2. I actually use large Epson and Canon printers for poster prints for documentary films and it’s hard to read good content about printers. Thanks

      1. yea actually run a video marketing company in Chicago and create documentary films from the profits from the marketing videos to impact the world best I can.

  3. thanks for the tips. the most problem i have with printers is ink. you know replace ink with new cateridge is not good for my wealth but refill ink not good for my cateridge. dilema 🙁

    1. I definitely here ya Eri, most cartridges now days are extremely expensive, especially to try and stock some up. I’ve also found many of the refill cartridges are terrible in quality and it’s easy to make a terrible mess with them. So it is quite a delima unfortunately.

      Sometimes it’s cheaper to buy a whole new printer then it is to purchase refills!

  4. Honestly, I didn’t know some of these printer managements. Thanks for the knowledge received.

  5. i always have a common yet irritating problem with printing, especially when i have urgency to print a document, my paper always stuck in the printer and it takes so much time to resolve a problem, what is the best tip to avoid this circumstances.

    1. The best suggestions I would have on avoiding a printer jam is 1. Never use more than one kind of paper in your tray at the same time.
      2. If your printer allows you to specify what type of paper you are using, then setting that option is a good idea.
      3. Never use too much or too little paper, not having enough or having too much in your paper tray may cause a jam.
      4. Always be sure your guides are set to the right width for the paper you are using.
      5. Most of all, keep every thing clean. It’s a good idea to keep a can of compressed air around and use it to blow out any excess paper or dust that may get down into your printer.

      I hope some of these ideas help you, some printers are just destined to jam no matter what you do, but if you practice these few tips, it should help you to avoid them.

  6. Thanks for the tips, Robert! In the document imaging industry, we are constantly dealing with paper jams and other printer / scanning related issues. It’s not always easy to keep the paper flowing smoothly, but your advice should help reduce the stress around these hardware issues. Cheers!

    1. I’m sure if printing is your main focus there would be the occasional issue. I’m glad you found this useful. 🙂

  7. some nice tips there Robert

    Something that I do every other day is to go over our large format machines with a feather duster. The automatic paper cutter can cause a lot of fine paper particles to settle on & in the printer. By keeping this to a minimum it can help prevent problems that a build up of dust & paper can cause.

    1. That’s a great idea Chris. Especially for someone that does a lot of printing. Little bits and pieces of paper running lose can certainly create a possible jam at some point. Thanks for the tip!

    1. Great Sara. Looks like you have some tips of your own for printer management as well. So glad you stopped by, and please visit again.

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