TL/DR; HP make decent printers, but their software updates sometimes breaks their own kit
This is an interesting one and it harks back to the early 90s when I was doing hands-on training for my MCSE. Yesterday afternoon I visited a person who lives in the village who had reported her printer had just stopped working.
The environment: a lovely and newish HP Elite Mini PC (about the size of a cigar box but crammed full of SSD functionality and RAM), an HP widescreen monitor, the aforementioned HP PageWide Pro MFP 477DW, a BT homehub and a BT network device being used as a switch. Connecting the printer to the switch was an OpenReach cable, with another OpenReach cable connecting the switch to the PC. This is not a new setup, and is what was in use up to and including the time the printer stopped working.
First thoughts. The MFP has four connection options. USB Port, Printer Port, Network Port, and WiFi. I asked why they were using a wired connection to the network and was told that this works (worked), whereas WiFi kept dropping out. Nothing else had been tried.
Second thoughts. What had changed. User said nothing. I opened a command prompt and interrogated the PC which also said nothing. I ran IPCONFIG /ALL while I was there and that gave me a healthy return. Exit command.
The printer console (on the printer, not a remote software console) gave us a bunch of settings which included IP. It was set for ‘automatic’ (typical HP, ignoring the network standard label of ‘dynamic’ and inventing their own terminology!). Instinctively I wanted to change that to static (which HP have again ignored, and have labelled it as ‘manual’) but I didn’t have an internal IP address allocation table. I could have just guessed a .45 or .52 suffix, but there was still a risk I could impact something in the house, so I left printer IP alone (and it still makes my skin itch that I didn’t fix that).
I checked the IO on the PC and the IO on the printer. Both looked good and didn’t display any faults. Despite this, I changed the network cable between the switch and printer to one I’d brought with me. I changed nothing, no config or network elements (apart from the new network cable). I fired up the HP printer wizard on the PC and set it to install the printer. It didn’t find it. I checked the printer and it had frozen. Not gone to sleep, it had frozen. Well that’s why the PC couldn’t find it. I rebooted the printer which came up satisfactorily, set the wizard to install the printer and once again, after five seconds, the printer had frozen and the PC couldn’t find it. I checked with the user that this layout/config is what had always previously worked and that was the case. So now I began to suspect the PC of fibbing. I rebooted it, a complete, cold, reboot. It soon popped back up. I changed no config or network elements. I rebooted the printer which came up, offered me it’s console. I set the PC to install the printer and then the printer froze after five seconds and the PC couldn’t find it. So now I started to suspect the printer.
I went on the HP support log (if you know, you know) and found that four other people had reported the identical problem with the same printer device within the last 72 hours. Now I knew we had a printer problem. We needed to find an alternate method of connecting the printer to the PC. As the user’s preference was for cable, I went with that. we found an old USB to Printer cable, disconnected the network cable from the printer, set the USB to Printer cable up between the PC and the printer, rebooted the printer and told the PC to connect to the printer. It did! I ran a couple of tests which all worked. So to break down the fault, the printer was freezing after five seconds if it was connected to the network via cable. But connected to the PC directly, it worked. I would have liked to connect it direct to the PC via a USB cable, but we didn’t have one long enough.
Fault diagnosis: HP has pushed out an automatic update which has adversely impacted a growing number of users of this MFD who use a certain connection type, The fix is to use a different connection type.
So that’s how I left it. Printer working via a wired connection (user’s preference). Fault resolved. However, now that everything is good I would like to revisit the user to reconfigure the printer to dynamic IP address, check the frequency of HP automatic updates and put an accept/deny switch on that, and set up the printer for WiFi rather than cable. But that’s just my preferences. The bottom line is the user is happy with the resolution. Time involved: 60 minutes analysis/diagnostics, 15 minutes fault resolution.
I also fixed a Bluetooth mouse problem while I was there, but a) that only took five minutes and b) the user is going to continue with the cable mouse anyway.