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Why are Office Printers so Unreliable?

I remember at my first job was tasked to print 20 copies of a 100-page report, but the paper jammed within the first ten prints and a couple of times later.

Moreover, I had to replace the ink cartridge twice with much difficulty. Since then, printers have become my arch-enemy.

Those who use printers daily would know how unreliable these compact machines can sometimes be.

Printers are unreliable only because they have tons of moving mechanical parts that are susceptible to failure, such as paper jams, running out of ink, failing buttons, and failing connectivity due to wireless problems and outdated software.

Office Printer
Office printer often exhibits problems because it is used multiple times daily.

However, you can avoid these problems by buying quality units, replacing faulty parts, and servicing more often.

Nonetheless, replacing ink cartridges would still cost a fortune, and there is nothing you can do about it.

Read on to find out prevalent problems with most printers, how to prevent them, and where you can find reliable printers.

Why are Office Printers so Unreliable?

Although the first inkjet printer was used in 1976, nothing seems to have changed in the last 46 years.

The paper jams are still persistent, and replacing ink cartridges still costs a fortune, that too with an incredibly frustrating troubleshooting experience.

Printers must perform a task that requires a significant amount of bulk and a lot of moving parts, which are terrible because the more of them you have, the more likely they are to fail.

Printer has multiple moving parts that are likely to fail after continuous use
The printer has multiple moving parts that are likely to fail after continuous use.

Therefore, the more complex a printer is, the more complicated each problem will be.

Getting a modern printer does not solve the problem because they have their fair share of problems.

The printers with the wireless router will likely exhibit connection problems, such as the inability to find or connect to the device.

It usually happens when your computer and printers are in different networks or the printer’s firmware is outdated.

Printer with wifi capability often encounter connection problem when connected to different networks
Printers with wifi capability often encounter connection problems when connected to different networks.

Therefore, there is no getting away from constant printer-related problems.

A Quora commenter points out that most printers are awful because the makers pack significant features and specs into a single device but are sold at a low price.

It is mainly true because most printers would come for less than $100, the same amount as acquiring a quality computer mouse.

Hence, printers can’t be wholly problem-free yet offer many features.

What Type of Printer is Unreliable?

The cheaper models that guarantee many activities are often the first to show problems.

Printers pack too many mechanics into a compact box; hence, buying cheaper models would mean buying parts without warranty, misplaced hardware, or other issues.

Therefore, these devices are likely to exhibit problems such as;

  • Inactivity after a time
  • Consistent paper jams
  • Lousy print quality with poor composition
  • Slow operation
  • Stops scanning documents
  • Wifi connection problem
  • Driver and hardware failures
  • Outdated software

The other probable reason for failing printers is failing to service them at regular intervals.

According to Colyer UK, it is essential to service your printers regularly to keep them in working condition.

Experts advise servicing or updating the maintenance kit every one to two years. It would help if you cleaned the inside of the printer every 4 to 8 months or 300 hours of operation to keep it problem free.

Therefore, timely servicing and quality products may be more essential than other factors when extending the printer’s life.

Why is Office Printer Failing?

The office printer is way more complicated than you may imagine; hence, your printer will likely fail to operate for many different reasons.

However, it is always best to troubleshoot the problem to find the exact issue with the device.

There are mainly three reasons why an office printer would fail.

1. Outdated Software Drivers

Although a mechanical device, printers run on the driver with software stored on your computer.

The software converts files into a form the printer can understand, where each printer brand would have a unique driver with a set of software.

Therefore, the printer will stop responding to print commands if the software gets outdated.

Printer with outdated driver will stop responding
A printer with an outdated driver will stop responding until updated.

These drivers are automatically added to the computer when you first install the printer and update as long as the manufacturer releases the security updates.

Sometimes, the driver stops updating itself, where you would need to dig into the manufacturer’s website and download the latest update.

Other times, the driver becomes incompatible with your computer’s new operating software, security update, or other reasons.

You can overcome this problem by re-uploading or reinstalling the driver, but only until the manufacturer supports the software.

2. Consumes More Ink and Paper

Remember, printer manufacturers do not make much money from the device but from the consumables such as ink and paper.

Therefore, you may quickly find printers in the market reasonably priced under $100.

Printer Ink

The ink cartridges may only hold about 8 to 127 ml of ink at a time and cost anywhere from $19 to $25 or more.

If you wish to buy color inks with a richer tone, you may quickly pay over $30 for a single cartridge.

Printer ink
Color printing cartridges will cost slightly more than monochrome cartridges.

Moreover, a single cartridge would only print from 700 to 1500 pages until they expire. Even the blotchy printouts that often come out would not compensate for it.

Therefore, refilling the ink is always expensive, especially when you run an office dependent on printing and handing out prints.

Note: Not printing to save ink may backfire because the ink would possibly dry after an extended period.

Paper is another consumable that will run out as you begin printing.

A single paper would not cost much, but if you add daily prints, the number of papers will run over 1000s in a month.

Moreover, a paper jam is a common problem that nobody can escape.

Printers consume papers
A paper width of 80 – 90 gsm is considered best for most office printers.

This malfunction is common with most printers for several reasons.

Paper not queued up correctly is likely to jam the print roller, as are papers with a slight angle, crumbled edges, and frayed texture.

Using paper with the wrong thickness or size can also jam the printer rollers, especially with cheaper printer devices. Generally, 80 to 90 gsm paper is preferable for most printers.

The blockage is common with printer rollers that are rarely cleaned. Failing to service the printer will often accumulate dust in the rollers, which begin jamming.

3. Connectivity Issues

Connectivity is another major problem with printers, whether plugged in or connected wirelessly.

A faulty printer cable may cause significant connection problems, especially when sending a print command, requiring you to plug out, clean the port, and plug in again.

It is especially true with older models of printers that lack wifi connectivity.

With modern printers in most offices, wifi becomes essential for any printing. However, with wifi sitting at the far end of the room, the printer will often have difficulty connecting to your computer.

If your printer pauses printing or goes offline, you should know it is a problem with connectivity.

First, you need to install a printer on the same network your computer or laptop is in.

Secondly, you must keep the printer close to the computer and wifi router to access it without hindrance.

Does a Good Printer Still Exist?

Despite the prevalence of cheap printers in the market, you could still find quality devices that are top-notch than the rest and succumb to fewer problems.

Here is the list of a few reliable printers in 2024.

HP OfficeJet Pro 9015eThe wireless All-in-One printer with color cartridges and bonus 6 months instant ink prints up to 700 pages a month.
Access mobile prining, security, and automatic updates
Brother Compact Monochrome Laser PrinterWireless printing with mobile device compatibility allows printing up to 36 pages per minute.
It boasts 2.7" color touchscreen
Epson WorkForce Pro WF-3730All-in-One wireless color printer with copier, scanner, fax and Wi-Fi Direct.
It offers up to 30% lower printing cost
Canon PIXMA MG3220Wireless color photo printer with scanner and copier built-in with automatic 2-sided printing.
Cuts paper usage by up to 50%
No drivers needed.
Canon PIXMA MG3220 Wireless PrinterWi-Fi enabled color printer with all new UltraChrome Pro10 ink that offers rich color in outstanding speed.
Related Article: Can you place printer on the floor?

Final Verdict

There are a great many printers in the market that will guarantee to work lifelong and provide a problem-free experience.

However, it would help if you were proactive about choosing the correct device and not picking up promising yet cheap printers.

Remember to clean your printer regularly and service the parts to ensure extended lifespan and impeccable performance.

Related Article: Top 10 Compact All-in-One Printer for Home Office Use

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