Over the years, I have helped many customers with printing issues. Issues like print jobs are taking a long time to print or print jobs totally disappearing and never printing at all. Sometimes it is something as simple as not being able to print in color.
In the majority of the cases, it usually ends up being how the printer was setup on the PC or the print server that is causing the issue. Because of this, I wanted to show you some of the basic troubleshooting steps and fixes that I use to resolve these issues.
Whenever I am troubleshooting a printing issue, I first make sure that the printer is working correctly by itself. I'll have the customer use the printer's control panel and print off demo pages, paper path test pages, and config sheets just to make sure that the printer is functioning properly. I'll have them give it a good workout by printing lots of pages from the control panel just to prove that the printer is functioning fine.
I then need to find more about how, when and why the issue is happening. I'll start with a series of questions to the customer such as "Is it happening with all print jobs or just from certain types of documents?" or "Is everyone experiencing the same issue or is it only happening with one PC?" or "Is your print server local or at another location?" Many times I will find that the issue is related to one specific document or to one employee's PC and nobody else is experiencing the issue.
Next, I will start looking at how the printer was setup on the network and also on the PC or Print Server. The first thing that I do here is to make sure that the printer is setup with a static IP Address. Using DHCP or BOOTP to assign the IP Address can allow for the printer to obtain a different IP Address which can cause issues with printing. Setting this to a static IP Address eliminates any possible issues here.
Once I have the printer setup with a static IP Address, I will do some network testing and also inspect the network cabling gong to the printer. I will do pings and trace routes to see if there is any latency in the network, dropped packets, or if it is going through many layers of switches and routers. I inspect the cabling to make sure that it can handle the newer gigabit network ports that come on the printers these days. I have found that in some cases slowing down the network port on the printer to 100mb fixes the issue.
I will then start inspecting how the printer is setup on the PC or Print Server. First, I will go into the Printer Properties and verify that it is using the correct print driver. Even if it is using the correct print driver, many times I will reinstall the print driver to make sure that I have the latest print driver installed and also to make sure that the existing print driver is not corrupt.
Once I know that the print driver is correct, next I will look at the port being used. When a printer is installed, typically the user just follows along with the printer install wizard and let windows automatically install the printer. And this is where I see many of the issues related to printing.
Most of the time, Windows will try to install the printer using a WSD Port instead of a TCP/IP Port. From my experience, using a WSD Port is hit or miss. Sometimes it works flawlessly and sometimes it doesn't. Some manufactures do not work well with WSD ports. Some do. However, using a TCP/IP Port always works flawlessly. And how the TCP/IP Port is created also makes a big difference.
When the TCP/IP Port is created, it can either be setup to use the IP Address of the printer or the Hostname of the printer. If it uses the Hostname, this means that it relies on the DNS to resolve the printer's IP Address. If the DNS is not working correctly, it can cause issues like this. This is why I always use the IP Address of the printer and never the Hostname.
Now that I know the driver is correct and the port is correct, I will do my testing and see if this has fixed the issue. In most cases, after making these changes, the problem goes away. However, from time to time, it does not fix the issue and we need to dig deeper. This is when I will start removing things and trying some other tests to determine where the problem lies.
First, I will remove and reinstall the printer to see if this resolves the issue. If it is going through a print server, I will install the printer locally on the workstation to eliminate the print server and see if this resolves the issue. And finally, I will connect a laptop directly to the printer and see if the issues still persists. Based on my test results, I can then determine a fix and implement a solution.
In conclusion, whenever I have run into these types of issue, it is rarely the printer itself. 99% of the time, it is either the document that they are printing, how the printer was setup on the PC or Print Server, or networking issues on the customer's network. I leave nothing to chance and inspect all pieces of the puzzle to make sure that something simple has not been overlooked.
If you are experiencing any printing issues, contact TotalPrint USA for help. We have the fix for that.