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2,847 Tutorials

How to troubleshoot printer problems

Overcome printer nightmares

You probably get frustrated when your document fails to print. We've identified the five worst printer problems and show you how to solve them, as well as ensuring they don't occur again.

4. Power loss in the middle of a print job

If this ever happens to you, you can treat it as if it were a special kind of paper jam.

Turn off the printer
You don't want its parts to start churning unexpectedly while you're working on recovery.

Clear the paper path
Remove any paper that's stuck in midprint.

Turn on the printer (assuming that power to the machine is restored)
As the printer initialises, check for error messages or odd noises that might indicate a malfunction or internal damage. If you have a laser or LED printer, check the documentation for a maintenance routine you can use to clean un-transferred toner from the drum. An inkjet cartridge that stopped in mid-squirt may require cleaning. Run a test page and check the output for stains, streaks, and other abnormalities. Consult your printer's documentation for further troubleshooting guidance.

How do I avoid this next time?
The odds that a printer will turn off on its own are low. If power outages are relatively frequent in your area, plug your printer into a UPS device so that it can finish printing and power down normally the next time the electricity fails.

5. Printing on the wrong side of photo paper

You wait eagerly for your photo to come out of the printer, but what you get is big splotches of ink sitting - and not drying - on the wrong side of the photo paper.

Cancel the print job if you can
This is especially important your print job calls for printing multiple sheets of photos, as each wrong-way sheet will just add to the mess.

Remove the paper carefully, making sure that the ink doesn't run
Avoid getting it on your hands by wearing gloves or by using a napkin or paper towel to handle the paper.

Throw the whole thing away
Yes, you'll have to say goodbye to that expensive piece of paper and all that costly ink.

How do I avoid this next time?
Check the printer's documentation and tray markings to make certain that you are inserting the photo paper correctly.

See also: Group test: what's the best printer?

  1. We show you how to ensure they don't happen again
  2. Stuck in the print queue
  3. Spilled ink
  4. Power loss in the middle of a print job
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