Most users know that there may be updates to the software on their computer from time to time. One thing that often gets overlooked, however, is the need to upgrade a printer’s firmware.
What is Firmware?
Firmware is the internal software of a printer that helps it carry out its functions. For example, this software controls what is displayed on the printer’s control panel, and responds to button presses from the user. Though most people tend to mix drivers and firmware up, these are actually quite different. The driver acts as the translator between a computer and the printer, but the firmware tells the printer how to handle this information once it is sent.
While most firmware operates quite well right out of the box, there may be occasional bugs or other problems that the manufacturer decides to fix with an update. If you are experiencing a particular issue with your printer, it can be helpful to check for a firmware update, as it may resolve the problem. However, there are a few reasons to avoid printer firmware updates, as they could actually remove functionality by denying you the ability to use compatible supplies. Although this is rare, do a web search to determine whether users report any problems before updating.
How to Update the Firmware
The process for updating the firmware on your printer will vary from model to model, so the best advice is to consult the user manual for exact instructions. However, here are some general steps that apply to many common printers.
- Go to the support page of the printer’s manufacturer website and type your printer’s model into the search box.
- Click Drivers and Software, Updates, or Firmware to see a list of updates.
- Download the newest version of the firmware, and note the location where you saved it.
- Double-click the file to begin the installation, and follow the onscreen instructions to carry out the update. The instructions may ask you to disconnect or restart the printer at certain points.
This video from HP provides more detailed instructions for finding firmware updates on their website, and the process is similar for most manufacturers.