Robin's Blog

How to: Fix a network printer suddenly showing as offline in Windows Vista, 7 or 8

This post has become quite popular – so I’ve updated it with a bit more detail, plus some people’s experiences from the comments. If you find it useful then please leave a comment – or, even better, if I’ve saved you time and money then donate a bit to cover my hosting costs.

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.

That should be it…but here are a few other tips/observations from people who’ve commented on this post:

  • This has been found to work on a variety of versions of Windows including
    • Windows Vista
    • Windows 7
    • Windows 8
    • Windows 8.1
    • Windows 10
    • Windows Server 2003
    • Windows Server 2008
    • Windows Server 2012
  • You could need to be logged in as an administrator before you can change the SNMP status
  • If you’re running Windows 8 then this could be the problem instead (thanks Gompo)
  • If you find that this solves it for a bit but it keeps going offline again then editing the registry at HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\Print and adding a new DWORD called SNMPLegacy with the value 1 and restarting may solve it (thanks Coxy)
  • The issue can be caused even when the printer does support SNMP, but somehow the SNMP communications aren’t getting through – for example, due to a firewall or port configuration issue somewhere on the network (thanks Jonathan)
  • Setting the SNMP ‘group name’ to “public” can also help (thanks PP)

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


310 Comments

  1. Philogos says:

    This didn’t work for me. What I have found, however, was that the printer is set up for a dynamic IP address and this is different from the IP address in the port config. Win 7 won’t let me reset the port IP address, so I’m trying to switch to a fixed IP address (which I’ll set to what is in the port). This is a fiddly issue. Can anyone recommend a good piece of diagnostic software that looks after this sort of thing?

  2. Laura Blakeman says:

    Yay! This worked, took me about 2 seconds. Thank you!

  3. jay says:

    going to configure port wont let me sayis in is not supported

  4. ann says:

    Robin

    thank YOU very much for your information.
    it works.
    I appreciate you greatly.

  5. renisha says:

    hi im trying to print using my laptop and it keep saying use print error?
    I have the Minolta c360 bizhub and it has never done this before please help

  6. a says:

    omg thank you!!!! This has wracked my brain and drove me crazy for years!!!!!

  7. vinod kamat says:

    thank you very much for this information. now my printer working perfectly.

  8. vinod kamat says:

    thank you very much for this information. now my printer is working perfectly.

  9. Lynn says:

    Yay! Worked for me too

  10. Eddie says:

    Thanks a lot. it works perfectly

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