Repairing Common Printer Problems
One of the most common sources of printing problems is the printer cable. Normal wear and tear can damage one or more of the wires or pins in the connectors of your cable.
Cable problems simple to diagnose and correct. The fastest way to troubleshoot a cable with no obvious defects is to substitute a known good cable and see if the problem goes away. Or, you can place your questionable cable on a system that is having no problems, to see if your problems follow the cable.
Printer driver problems:
Another common printer problem is that your drivers are defective or out of date. You might even have the wrong one. This can result in all sorts of strange gibberish on the printed page. If you selected the wrong printer driver for the printer you are trying to use, you may need to purge the print jobs that are hung up in the spooler as well as reset the printer to remove any bad data that remains in its buffer.
It’s also possible that you have the correct printer driver but that it isn’t configured properly for the amount of RAM installed in your printer. If the driver is set for more RAM than the printer actually has, an overflow can occur. This might go unnoticed for a long time. It may appear only when you have a large print job or pages with lots of graphics.
Sometimes there are known issues with a printer driver that crop up only under certain circumstances. Make sure that you have the latest printer drivers for your operating system and printer installed. (To do this, check the manufacturer’s web site.)
Whenever you install a printer driver, make sure that all of the setting options are correct for your individual printer. This not only includes the RAM settings, but also settings like the source tray for the paper, the paper size and orientation, the timeout settings, and the print resolution.
Another problem might be that your parallel port settings are incorrect in your CMOS setup. (Assuming that the parallel port is integrated on the motherboard.) First, see if Windows is giving any indication of a problem in Device Manager. To do this, click Start, Settings, Control Panel, and then double-click on the System icon. Now select the Device Manager tab. If there is a problem with the on-board parallel port settings, you will see a flag on the device, indicating a discrepancy. Highlight the parallel port and click Properties to view the device status. Next, click Resources to check out any resource conflicts.
It’s possible that when you last installed a component, you created a resource conflict that didn’t appear until later when you tried to print. If a conflict is indicated, try changing the resources that the offending device is using.
Testing the parallel port
Diagnostic software such as CheckIt or Norton Utilities can test the integrity of your port by using a loop-back plug attached to your parallel port. This type of test can also be performed on your serial ports. Make sure that you use a loop-back plug compatible with the testing software.
The loop-back plug test may not find every parallel port problem, but if it does indicate a problem, it’s probably accurate.
If you find a bad parallel port on a motherboard with integrated peripherals, you can disable the port in the CMOS Setup and install an add-on parallel port if you have an unused ISA slot. But check prices before you do this. You may be able to replace your motherboard with a new one for very little more than the cost of a new parallel port card.
Check the CMOS
If you find no resource conflicts, try changing the port type in the CMOS. Run the CMOS Setup program, open the Integrated Peripherals menu, and select the parallel port type settings. Press [F1] to view the default setting. If the default setting isn’t specified, try changing the mode to the default. You can also try setting to another value the memory address that the port is using. Start with the default setting and then restart the computer and try printing again. Windows will probably find what it considers new hardware and install the proper software during the start up process. Note: This is the process I followed on my computer. However, since every CMOS is different, your system may require you to change the port type in a different manner. Documentation may accompany your computer or motherboard (if it was custom built).
There are a lot of things that can go wrong with a printer. If you’ve eliminated all other possibilities and have decided that the printer is the culprit, consult the manual that came with your printer for user-serviceable items.
The new generation of inkjet printers has the capability of printing at a very high resolution. To achieve this resolution, you must choose from a variety of high-quality papers available. If you’re using standard quality inkjet paper, there is no benefit from choosing a very high resolution. The print speed will be greatly influenced by the resolution you select.
Don’t try to use the paper designed for an ink jet printer in your laser printer. This paper is not compatible with the high temperatures present in a laser printer.
If your laser printer has begun to print pages with some of the areas of the page appearing lighter than the rest, your toner cartridge may be a little low on toner. To get the maximum life from a toner cartridge, make sure that the remaining toner is evenly distributed in the cartridge. Do this by removing the cartridge from the printer and, while holding it in the same orientation that it rests in when installed, gently rock it back and forth, tilting it about 45 degrees in each direction. The object is to make toner available over the whole width of the drum. Be careful not to shake the cartridge too vigorously.
While you have the printer open and the cartridge removed, take the time to clean it out. Follow the directions in the owner’s manual carefully so as to not damage anything.