How To Troubleshoot a Printer Going Offline in Windows 10
Networked printers were supposed to make the lives of office workers easier – print from anywhere to anywhere, no hassles about print servers or putting documents on removable media and walking them over to a print station. Yet as things have turned out, networked printers are, if anything, more of a pain than the old printing system ever was. Networked printers regularly go offline, often for obscure or unknowable reasons. If that happens to you very often, then this tutorial is for you. In this article I will show you how to troubleshoot a printer going offline in a Windows 10 environment. That said, many of these tips and suggestions are applicable to any operating system.
There are several reasons why a printer may go offline. They include:
- Power or cabling
- Network issues
- Driver issues
- Windows settings
- Hardware issue in the printer itself
How likely each of these reasons are to be the case depends, of course, on what you see when you try to diagnose the problem. If you can see that the printer is on and ready, but Windows says it’s offline, then you know it probably isn’t an issue with the printer itself or the power. Use your judgment in deciding which solution to try first.
Printer goes offline due to power or cabling
If a printer keeps going physically offline and resetting or switching itself on and off, it could be a power issue. Check the power cable and the wall outlet and change one at a time and retest. Change either the wall outlet or cable, run the printer for a while then test the other if the problem persists.
Printer goes offline due to network issues
If your printer is a network printer, it makes sense to check the network settings. Log onto your router (usually through entering 192.168.1.1 into your web browser) and look at network settings. The most common issue is IP address conflict, in which your printer is assigned an IP address that another device uses.
Within your router settings, assign your printer a static IP address to stop this happening and set it far apart from other IP addresses. For example, if your home network uses 192.168.1.2 – 100, set your printer to something like 192.168.1.250. This should avoid any further IP address issues.
Alternatively, set your other devices to use a static IP and leave the printer alone. Either will work.
Printer goes offline due to driver problems
Printers rely heavily on good drivers to function properly. If something is up with the driver, the printer will not work as it should. Check the driver and download a fresh one as appropriate.
- Right click the Windows Start button and select Device Manager.
- Select your printer from the list.
- Right click and select Update Driver Software. Select automatic or manual depending on whether you have a driver on your system or not.
- Allow the driver to be installed and retest.
Reinstalling the same driver may also work if Windows cannot find a newer version. You will have to visit the printer manufacturer’s website and manually download a Windows 10 driver for your model of printer. Then just select the executable file and install.
Printer goes offline due to a Windows setting
It is entirely possible that a Windows 10 setting is interrupting the printer and stopping it working correctly. Here are a couple of things to look for.
- Navigate to Control Panel and Devices and Printers.
- Right click your printer and select the Ports tab. Make sure the correct port is selected. If you’re using USB, the USB port should be selected. If you’re using a network, the network port should be selected. The same for Wi-Fi.
- Right click the printer and select See what’s printing.
- Select Printer from the menu in the new window and ensure there is no tick next to Use printer offline. If there is, remove it and retest.
- Go back to Control Panel and select Network and Sharing Center.
- Select Advanced sharing settings.
- Check Network discovery and File and printer sharing are both enabled.
Printer goes offline due to a hardware issue
A hardware issue can be either with a computer or the printer itself so we should first find out which it is. If you have your printer networked using a cable, try it wireless if you can or attach it directly to your computer. Retest. Change the cable and retest. If you can connect it via USB instead, test that too.
If changing a port or cable fixes the issue, you know what to fix. If it didn’t make a difference, chances are that it is the printer itself. If you have checked the driver, the power cable, Windows settings and network settings, the only thing left is the printer itself and I’m afraid I can’t help you there!