Robin's Blog

How to: Fix a network printer suddenly showing as offline in Windows Vista

You may find, as I have done recently, that a network printer installed on a Windows Vista starts suddenly showing as Offline even when other machines on the network can access it fine. I originally thought it would be an IP address issue, but it turned out not to be anything to do with that. In fact, the solution was far simpler – but also slightly strange…

It turns out that Windows Vista automatically enables SNMP support for networked printers, and if it can’t get a response to a SNMP message then it assumes the printer is offline. SNMP stands for Simple Network Management Protocol and is a way of getting information from network devices (such as routers, servers and printers), mainly for the purposes of finding out if there are any problems with the devices. A number of networked printers implement SNMP, and will respond to SNMP queries with information, but some don’t. My printer (a fairly old Lexmark T640) is one of the ones that doesn’t implement it – so of course Vista will never get a response to a SNMP message. The result of which is that the printer will start showing as offline at a seemingly random time because Vista has just sent a SNMP message to it, and it hasn’t responded.

Thankfully there is a simple way to fix this – and it just involves telling Vista not to try and communicate with the printer via SNMP. Simply right-click on the printer in the Printers window, choose the Ports tab, and select Configure Port. At the bottom you will see a checkbox saying something like SNMP Status Enable. Untick that, and the printer should start showing as online again.

(Update: If this doesn’t work, then try the method described in Coxy’s comment, below)


Categorised as: Computer Help, Computing, How To, Windows


56 Comments

  1. JC says:

    Thanks so much. Been without a printer for a week. Fianlly decided to do something about it and guess what? SNMP, Some Nonsense Machine Problem. Thanks for the help!

  2. ED KIM says:

    When I tried this, I received the message “An error occurred during port configuration. Access is denied.” What do I do now?

  3. Robin Wilson says:

    It sounds like it could be a permissions problem. You could try running this as an administrator and seeing if that helps.

  4. Gompo says:

    Referring to Windows 8.1 please see:

    http://support.microsoft.com/kb/2961042/en-us

  5. Thafy Mania says:

    Excellent find. Thank you very much for your assistance!

  6. Jay Young says:

    Hi Robin, I’ve been trawling through the net all day. Microsoft Chat/Epson Chat, no one can help. I have a call with geek365.com in the morning I’m that desperate. OK, we have 3 networked printers feeding 28 computers. All of them are now showing offline! I have done the usual checks like turn everything off and on again. Turned SNMP off. They were working fine last week. HEEEEELP ! Cheers Jay

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