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  HOW TO TROUBLESHOOT PRINTER PROBLEMS
Last updated: 6/13/00

5.  Is it on-line?  Most printers have and on-line LED and button or the equivalent.  The computer cannot communicate or send stuff to a printer that is not on-line; i.e., not connected to the cable between the printer and computer, and that is what "on-line" literally means.  Again, I have gone to customer sites, pushed the on-line button, and charged them for my time and travel (I try to accomplish at least that much on the phone, but some...).

6.  Is it beeping at you?  Most printers will beep once or twice during or after initialization.  If it beeps more than that or beeps constantly, the poor thing is either hurt or trying to tell you something is wrong.  Look in the manual or go to the web site to learn what it is saying.  Unfortunately, beep code documentation can be hard to find, the beep you hear may not listed, or the meaning of the beep is nebulous.  Most, printers will beep when out of paper or out of ink and those are the most common causes for a printer turning into a road runner.

7.  Does it test-print?  Most printers have a built-in diagnostics program which can be very useful for troubleshooting problems and test-printing without a computer.  They are usually initiated by pressing a button or two while turning on the printer.  Check your user manual.  If the printer test-prints OK, you have probably eliminated the mechanical print mechanism as the problem.

8.  Does it have ink or toner?  Is the Ink cartridge full, ribbon installed correctly, or laser cartridge full?  An ink jet printer may have a black and a color cartridge.  Check both of them or at least set the printer to use a cartridge with ink in it.  You can usually extend the life of a laser cartridge long enough to order a new one by removing the cartridge and gently shaking it side-to-side to redistribute the tone.  Sometimes you can get a ribbon going temporally by removing from the printer and manually advancing the ribbon past a worn spot by turning the sprockets.

9.  Is it clean?  Most ink jet printers have a simple user procedure for cleaning the print heads.  You may have to clean them periodically or after the printer has been idle for a few days or weeks.  If you see funny colors or print-outs are missing colors, a cartridge may be empty or a head dirty.  You may have to clean a head many times to get it working again.

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