Printer Troubleshooting

The quick and dirty guide to printer troubleshooting

Over the years, advancing technologies and digital transitions haven’t removed the need for quality printers. In fact, there are more personal and commercial printing solutions available now than ever before.

Regardless of their size, printers are complex machines with both hardware and software that needs to be properly maintained. However, the first time you experience issues with your printer doesn’t necessarily mean it’s time to retire it.

Here’s a quick and dirty guide to four of the most common printer issues and how to successfully troubleshoot them.

Paper jams

This is easily one of the most common printer troubleshooting problems. Paper jams can be maddening. Although large commercial printers with separate feeders are more prone to this problem, you may also experience it with smaller machines, as well.

The first step you should take is to remove the paper jam itself. However, before resuming your printing you should try to find the source of the problem. Check to make sure your paper trays are loaded properly and that all the paper is the same stock. Different sizes of paper mixed together can easily lead to jam ups.

You should also check for foreign objects in the feeder itself. Sometimes a paper jam is caused when little pieces of paper get lodged in the rolling mechanism. This can cause more issues down the road if not properly cleaned.

Printer not responding

Sometimes printers just seem to stop responding to print commands. Put on your printer troubleshooting hat. Let’s tackle this one.

The issue could be software or hardware related. So the first step you should do is make sure all network and power cables are connected. (Seriously. It sounds basic, but you have no idea how often folks call help desks when the printer isn’t even plugged in.)

Most modern printers have digital screens that display error codes. If there are larger issues with the hardware that need to be addressed, there’s probably a message. In most cases, lack of response is driver or network related. Just unplug your network cable, restart your printer, and then reconnect the network cable.

If this doesn’t fix the issue, make sure you have all the latest drivers installed on your computer. You can go to the printer manufacturer’s website and download the latest available drivers and firmware.

Poor print quality

Printer quality fades over time. That doesn’t mean there’s not a printer troubleshooting issue to diagnose. But you should be aware that the common causes of print quality issues are related to paper quality, ink levels, proper alignment, and drums and toner.

Almost every printer manufacturer offers printer diagnostic software. Install it on your computer and get to troubleshooting. When you run these tests, you’ll receive a report on the levels and status of all your printing components. This can really help narrow down where the issues may be.

Make sure you have adequate ink levels and that you’re aligning your printer heads after every refill.

Check the type of paper you’re using as well, as this can also make a significant impact on the quality of your prints. If all else fails, check the calibration settings of your printer to make sure the print quality type is at the desired level.

Slow printing

A slow printer can be a nuisance, especially when printing large documents. If you’ve noticed the speed of your printer change dramatically over time, this is usually due to network speed or printer settings.

A networked printer has few different areas that need to be properly optimized. If using a Wi-Fi printer, make sure it has a strong signal and that there are no IP address conflicts with the router. Firewalls should also be configured to accept incoming print commands from your computer.

Print quality settings could also lead to slower printing if they have been changed over time. Make sure you’re settings are calibrated to get the best quality vs. efficiency ratio you’re looking for.

Printer troubleshooting pro-tips

While these are the most common printer troubleshooting issues experienced, larger commercial products often need a bit more preventative maintenance to keep them running smoothly.

Managed IT services are a great way to make sure all of your systems and equipment are running efficiently, minimizing downtime and increasing productivity.

That said, try these printer troubleshooting tips first. (After all, they’re free!) But if that doesn’t work, give your IT support provider a call.