Ink Jet Printers are deceptively inexpensive, often around $50, or “free” with a computer bundle. The expense comes with the ink. If you have one with both black and color cartridges, you can end up spending $25.00 or more for each cartridge. The price to print one page is very high. The cartridges seem to get smaller with every new model.
Thankfully, if you have one of these printers, you can minimize the expense by adjusting the print quality to a “draft” setting. If you are only printing pages for your own use, this is a great ink saver. If you need to print higher quality, such as a business letter, or resume, you will need to adjust the print quality. Some printers do not hold this setting when you change ink cartridges, so be sure to make sure this setting is where you want it. On Lexmark printers the default seems to be “use the ink as fast as possible”.
There are ink re-fill kits, you probably have received lots of spam about them. Lexmark and other printer manufacturers say that use of re-fill kits or off-brand ink cartridges will void your warranty. The re-fill kits can be messy, and the ink has caused some printers to gum up.
Older printers that worked great on Windows 95 and 98 are not supported, and will not work, on Windows 2000 or Windows XP. Ink jet printers also tend to be less useful for operating systems other than Mac or Windows. Hopefully, as Linux, and other Unix-like operating systems become more mainstream, manufacturers of “inexpensive” printers will support the free and low-cost operating systems. Be sure to find out what printers will work with your operating system of choice out of the box.
To avoid these issues, spend a little more up front for a laser or laser jet printer. They cost more, but their ink cartridges, which also cost more, last a lot longer. One can shake the ink cartridge of a laser or laser jet printer and get another ream of paper printed. Ink jet printers will probably not do a ream of paper even if set on draft mode. Printers that are more useful in a business context, are also more likely to have support in the Linux and Unix-like operating systems.
Printing is one of the most common problems all computer users have. The best way to handle the problem is to start with the most common problems first, such as,
- Is the printer plugged in/turned on?
- Is the printer connected to the computer, correctly?
- Is there paper in the printer?
- Does the printer have ink?
- Did I click the correct button in the program?
- Did a Windows printer dialog come up, did I click “Print”?
- Is the Printer configured correctly in the operating system?
- Is there a paper jam?
- Is there a problem with a previous print job?
- If it is a network printer, is there a problem with the network or print server?
- Is there enough ink in the cartridges or is the printer ribbon okay?
- Is the printer cable firmly plugged into both printer and computer?
- If there is a print switch, is it hooked up correctly and set to print to the proper printer?
- Are there any other devices sharing the parallel port? There could be compatibility problems. Are these devices set up correctly? This is usually not an issue for USB printers.
- Is the printer cable more than six feet long? Sometimes the signal to the printer degrades if the printer cable is too long.
- Some printers require a bi-directional printer cable so they can communicate with the computer with messages about low ink, no paper, etc.
- Is there a printer icon in the printer folder for this printer? Is it configured properly?
- Are there any leftover print jobs in the print queue?
- Is the program that you are trying to print from set up properly? Is it compatible with this printer?
- Try printing a test document from a different program, such as Notepad or Wordpad.
- If there is another printer cable available, try it, if it works, then there is a problem with the first cable.
- If there is another printer available, see if you can print to it. This will ensure that, in general, printing works on this computer.
- If there is another identical printer available, try it, if it works, there may be a problem with the original printer.
- Check the manual for any printer settings that must be made at the printer.
Answers to common computer questions. I will post answers to some of the most common questions I have received as a computer support professional.
Any kind of problem solving, whether it is a mystery novel, crossword puzzle, or computer problem, they all involve starting with the simple and moving to the more complex. Think of this as “narrowing the focus”.
A good example is a puzzle. Most start with turning all the pieces picture side up, then trying to put the sides together. Then one finds objects to put together. This is why the sky is usually last, it is the biggest part, and it all looks the same. but by finding a cloud or area of similar color, the focus is narrowed and bit by bit the picture is completed.
This may help explain why when you talk to a computer professional that they ask you all the same questions you just answered, or just went through yourself. This is because they want to make sure they have covered all the bases. Quite often, a review of the basic questions will reveal that something very simple has been overlooked.
Once the quick and the simple tasks have been tried, one must exercise their patience and persevere until the problem is found. An experienced support person will have a lot more items to review before they enter new territory. You may think that when they talk to themselves and mutter in exasperation that it is time to panic. Unless your support person is running in circles yelling, “The sky is falling”, you know that they are not panicked. It is not time to panic until your technician panics. You may be worried and stressed over the situation, but a good support person will re-assure you and keep you informed of your options.
I am sharing here some useful information that may save you a service call, and unnecessary stress.