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


74 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

  7. Earl J. Robinson says:

    Thank you SO much!!

  8. Tony says:

    Thanks you for very much!!!

  9. C Bee says:

    Many thanks from me too !

  10. roberto says:

    man, I’ve been searching for a solution to this printer offline problem for weeks. no one could provide an answer that worked…
    you saved my day…your answer was spot on…
    thank you very much!!!

  11. derrickcheng says:

    Really thanks for the solution.

  12. rpupkin says:

    holy cow, problem solved. this was hugely helpful. i wish everything was this easy. many thanks.

  13. R Mansfield says:

    Fantastic! It worked immediately. Thanks soooooo much.

  14. Excellent, thank you! I wish I had tried this before installing a Microsoft hotfix and changing the print spooler dependency. Both didn’t solve the problem, but your suggestion did. I wonder how the SNMP setting got there in the first place, because the printer used to work just fine in the past.

  15. Viplove says:

    Thanks a ton !!! I was so annoyed because of the offline printer .. Even my Network Admin could not figure it out… Saved me a lot of trouble…Thanks again.

  16. Fran Vaughan says:

    I also unclicked the SNMP box, and yes the Offline message went away, but now I get an error message that the printer won’t print. Like all others I’ve tried to get more information from Brother, and am having difficulty finding anything on line. SIGH. I’ve had this problem once before and ended up reinstalling the printer. That might be my best option.

  17. Neeraj Singh says:

    Thanks Robin…. I was searching for article like this because it happened with me many time..
    and now it works for me.. i like it

  18. Telxonius says:

    Worked awesomely for me!

  19. W Bruggink says:

    Looks like it`s working! We have been struggling for weeks with no result. But now we have.Thanks

  20. menno says:

    Solved the problem.
    Thank you!

  21. Vasileios says:

    Thank you so much my friend!

    I couldn’ t find the solution for many days….
    I could print only each time I was restarting my computer…

    Thanks for the help! Problem solved!!!

  22. Vic says:

    My wife’s printer goes offline on her computer .when I shut my computer off ( printer is on my network)
    Any solution? Or must I leave my computer on at all times?

  23. Harini says:

    Excellent !!! Thank you so much :) been without printer for a week now, saved me all the trouble

  24. Damon says:

    thanks for the help – I think mine is related to my laptop going into sleep mode when I wake it the printer sometimes goes offline – this fix worked great.

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