If you have to print on any kind of regular basis, you know how frustrating printers can be. Fortunately, most common printer problems are a lot simpler than they appear and are relatively easy to resolve.
Here are a few tips:
First, think about what has changed on your computer and printer since the last time you were able to use the printer. If nothing has changed, the problem should be easy to solve.
Check to see if the printer is on, you never know if someone during the day might have unplugged the printer or just turned it off.
Next, check the display on the printer if it has one. If it does not have one, then check for a status light. Usually if there is an issue, it will be blinking.
If it is blinking or there is an error code, then look in the owner’s manual which should give you a list of all the errors that occur with the printer. Most manuals will also give you a way to diagnose the problem.
A lot of printer issues are related to toner or paper and can usually be resolved very easily.
Check for obvious paper jams. There are usually a few covers that can be removed to help try to get the jam undone.
Most printer jams can be avoided if you flip through the paper before you put it in the printer. This eliminates static and clears any paper dust that might be on the paper.
If there is a toner issue, then it might be because either the cartridge is bad, low, or completely empty.
Almost all printers will give the computer user some sort of error message by either the display on the printer, status light, or the actual computer itself.
If the printer is a laser printer, then there is a toner drum that should be replaced about once a year depending on how much it is being used.
If your printout is fuzzy or faded, then this is a sure sign the drum needs replaced.
If there are no signs of issues with the printer then check the USB cable connected to the printer. Most cable problems will say the printer is offline due to connectivity issues.
Printers can be connected to a computer via USB or parallel port. Check both ends to make sure the cable is completely connected. If you have another cable, it never hurts just to swap them out to test the cable.
If you have an ink jet printer and you get smudged or blurry images, you might want to look up the utility on the printer that cleans and or aligns the print heads.
Most ink jet printers either have software that can start this process or have a setting on the printer itself that can kick start it.
If your printer produces strange characters, it’s likely that you have a printer driver problem. When a printer acts up and there are no hardware problem, the solution is often a driver issue.
A driver is a piece of software that helps the computer communicate with the printer. Drivers are updated constantly – be sure to check yours.
These are just a few problems that can happen. These should help a novice user start to troubleshoot common printer problems.