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Document printing errors, printing can cause you heartburn and headaches...

Normally I don't give advice on document printing errors. There are just too many printers and too many different scenarios for printing problems (issues).

And describing them online is hard because you only see the tip of the iceberg that printing presents.

Printer hardware failure is a long list, such as paper jams, streaks, low quality (on a high end printer), lack of color (on a color printer), and so on.

If it isn't a printer hardware problem then normally when you have a printing problem it is a communications issue, where did the program that you are using to create your documents and the printer stop communicating?

  • Check the cable between the computer and the printer (Network printers use a different troubleshooting technique).
  • Is the driver for the printer up to date?
  • Can you see the printer in the "Printer and Faxes" applet? (is it installed)
  • If it is installed can you print a test page?

If you have a yes to the above questions your next step is to check the printer physically, does it have ink/toner?

  • Are your documents too large to print on the printer? (Some times you will get a 200, 201, 210 printer error, this means the printer doesn't have enough memory to print it - this is a HP Laser Jet error).
  • If it has enough paper and ink/toner and you are not getting memory errors, and the printer will print a test page then physically the printer is ok.

So where is the communication failure?

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This is where the different scenario's come in.

Lack of communication between a program and the printer:

  • Does the program require it own special driver for the printer (some All-In-One printer/scanner/fax machines are like this). You will need to go to either the program publisher's web site or the printer manufacture's web site and see if they provide a printer driver.
  • Printer drivers can not be updated the same way as other drivers can say from the Device Manager. If you think your printer drivers are bad you will have to go to the printer manufacture's web site and download new drivers and do a manual install.

As you can see printers present a special troubleshooting technique that you would learn by trial and error, there are too many different ways a printer can have issues to put them all in a troubleshooting tree.

If your printer starts a job then 'hangs' leave it for a short time unless the printer returns an error (a printer with a small amount of memory will take a while to "render" the documents, longer to render a ones with graphics).

As a last resort you could always stop the 'Spooler Service' and restart it, some times the spooler service will not restart because the printer has hung, power down the printer, stop the spooler service, power up the printer then restart the spooler service. If the spooler service still will not restart power everything down, power up the printer first then the computer. (Can I say I hate dislike printers and faxes?)

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Document printing errors should not be a challenge but sometimes things just go wrong.

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