Common Printer Problems

Tue, September 23, 2014
  • A computer printer is one of the most complex devices you can attach to a computer, despite the fact that you can commonly find one brand new for less than a hundred dollars. Getting your computer to simply recognize the device can be a problem, and sometimes dust gets in and gunks things up. While some problems are specific to each printer manufacturer, there are some common obstacles you can troubleshoot without opening up a manual or going to a website.

    Checking the Cables

    • First of all, make sure everything is plugged in correctly. Ideally, you will want your printer plugged into a power strip, rather than directly into an AC outlet, to protect against power surges. In this case, make sure the power strip is on and plugged in. You will also need a data cable connected from the printer to the computer; a data cable alone cannot carry enough electricity to power a printer.

    Almost all printers these days use a USB cable, so you will want that hooked up to an active USB 2.0 port on your computer---preferably an available port on the back of the computer case, rather than one on a monitor or keyboard. Plugging it directly into the computer eliminates potential problem areas. Sometimes the keyboard or monitor ports are faulty or otherwise nonoperational.

    Checking Drivers

    • Sometimes you can simply plug in the printer's data cable, and Windows will automatically recognize it, as long as the printer is powered on. But to be safe, you will probably want to install the drivers that come on the included CD. These drivers often include extended functionality not available in the default Windows printer setup. A further step is to go to the printer manufacturer's website to verify that you have the latest drivers available.

    Mechanical Issues

    • If your printer is recognized, you may still have mechanical problems. Even if you don't use your printer very often, its ink can gradually evaporate over time, so the amount of use is not always indicative of how much ink you should have left. Most printer software has diagnostic tools to keep track of your ink and notify you when it needs to be replaced. This software can also test the print head for problems.

    Here, dust can become a significant problem over time, so you will want to keep the printer internals covered when not in use. Some printers fold down into a "clam shell," while others require a hood to be placed over them when not in use. When a printer head breaks down, it can be repaired with some difficulty, according to instructions specific to the manufacturer, or you may need to get it fixed by a technician. Similarly, you will want to keep your paper dust-free; a stack left out in the open will collect dust on the top page, which goes into the printer when you print something on that page.


    If you are still experiencing issues, please don’t hesitate to give us a call.  Our Service Technicians can help fix the issues!  Call us at 972-226-3400.