Computers are becoming commonplace in homes and offices around the world. The problem is that most people know so very little about their computers, that when something goes wrong, they do not know how to begin the troubleshooting process.
The ugly truth is that we could opt to call the technical support phone number that came with the computer, but you never really know what you are going to get at the other end of the phone. You could literally spend several hours just waiting to get to a technician, and then once you have the human on the line, there is just as good of a chance that they will not have a clue, as there is that they will find your solution .
I know this because I used to work in a computer technical support call center. You would be amazed who can pass as a technician! For most new hires, the only pre-qualifying knowledge that is necessary is being able to navigate the current Windows Operating System.
Management feels that if you can navigate Windows, then you can navigate the database to dig up a solution. The problem with this kind of thinking is that the person at the call center is often lost to find a solution that is not yet in the database.
Of course, all front line technicians have a help desk to call, but in my own experience, help desk posts were assigned based on politics and not technical knowledge. We ended up with some real idiots at our help desk. Call those people once or twice, and you will eventually decide that you stand a stronger chance to succeed on your own, than you would be able to accomplish going upstream in the support systems.
The Business of Printing Support
Fortunately, computer printers do not break that often. But when they do, troubleshooting can be a painful process.
There are some basics that you can cover to streamline the troubleshooting process.
Be forewarned that if you ever crack the case of your printer, you should make darn sure to disconnect the power source before you do so. Printers that are connected to a power supply can actually charge you up with enough current to kill you. Don't take chances with your life.
Long before you get to the point of trying to crack the case to reach the internals, there are several troubleshooting steps you can take.
* Always check your power supply to see that you have a good, solid connection. I know that it seems the most logical step to take, but you might be surprised how often a powerless machine is discovered to be an unplugged machine.
* If the printer has power going to it, then turn off the machine and then turn it back on. Each printer has an internal brain in it. Removing power temporarily from the machine will force the computer chip inside of the printer to reset. Often times, this will solve any issues.
* Make sure that your printer cartridge is properly seated. Make sure the cartridge is in the printer the way that the manufacturer intended.
* Use the printer's "self-test" feature. The manufacturer has included this to help you to eliminate common printing problems.
These four steps will help you to overcome the problems most commonly associated with printers.
For a complete breakdown of generic troubleshooting steps, the following URL points to the most comprehensive and easy-to-follow checklist I have seen: http://www.5starsupport.com/info/printer.htm
Drivers Are the Software Applications That Power Printers
A driver is the software package that enables your printer to communicate with your computer's operating system, and vise versa.
The manufacturer of your printer sent out a software disc with the printer. On this disk, you can find the default driver for that printer.
As computing evolves, printer manufacturers upgrade their drivers to either improve the printer's performance or to keep up with changing Operating Systems.
Of course, you could go to a website that has been established to give you a one-stop shop for finding hardware drivers online. A couple of the most common sites of this type are:
While these global sites are good, they don't always deliver the most up-to-date drivers that are available from the manufacturer.
Here is an assortment of the Support / Driver Download URL's for most of the major manufacturers:
Brother – [http://www.brother.com/E-ftp/info/index.html]
Dell – [http://forums.us.dell.com/supportforums?category.id=printers]
Hewlett Packard – http://h20180.www2.hp.com/apps/Nav?h_pagetype=s-001&h_product=236252
IBM – [http://www.printers.ibm.com/internet/wwsites.nsf/vwwebpublished/supportoverview_ww]
Konica Minolta – http://printer.konicaminolta.com/support/index.html
Lexmark – [http://support.lexmark.com/cgi-perl/selections.cgi?target=http://support.lexmark.com/cgi-perl/support.cgi]
Samsung – http://samsungdp.com/eng/
Sharp – http://www.sharpusa.com/products/TypeWizard1/1 , 2230,18,00.html
Xerox / Tektronix – http://www.support.xerox.com/go/prodselect.asp?Xcntry=USA&metrics=HDR
The Unseen Printing Industry
Printers are cheap to replace as a general rule. If you have a printer whose transport motor failed, it might actually be cheaper to throw the printer in the trash and replace it with a new one. Sure, it might seem logical to buy a new motor and to replace the dead motor, but do compare pricing options first.
What most people fail to realize is that the printer companies are not making their money on manufacturing and selling printers. Sure, they do still make a profit when you buy your printer, but that is not the activity that keeps their stockholders happy.
When buying a printer, it really does make a lot of sense to compare the prices of replacement cartridges before you buy the printer. I bought a laser printer one time and was really excited about my new tool that is until I priced a replacement cartridge for it. $ 180 a pop for a remanufactured laser printer cartridge. Egad! That was more than I paid for the printer. I even bought a replacement printer for less money.
Sometimes, there is a challenge to find your printer toner cartridge at your local shopping center. With so many varieties of printers out there, most supply stores will not keep all of the various replacements on hand.
While it might make sense to go to the manufacturer website to buy replacement toner kits and cartridges, they generally charge a premium for those replacements. The manufacturer premiums can sometimes be as much as three times more expensive than what you can buy from a good third-party provider — even when that third-party provider bought the replacement from a middleman. It is just like the airline industry. It is often cheaper to buy your plane tickets from a travel company than from the airline itself.
With the printer currently sitting on my desk, I save $ 14- $ 17 on my color cartridge by buying my printer supplies from Toner-R Printing Supplies. By using this third-party provider, I save $ 14 against the manufacturer's website, and I can save $ 17 against Wal-Mart's prices. On the black toner cartridge, I still save money buying from http://www.tonerr.com . I can save $ 5 against buying the replacement from the manufacturer, and I can save $ 6 against buying from Wal-Mart. And, we have been trained to believe that Wal-Mart always has the best prices. Imagine that.
When it is time to buy a printer, never think that the manufacturer has your best interests at heart. They are in this business to make the most money they can, period.