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 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


95 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.

  25. Rahil says:

    Hi Robin,
    Your solution was just fantastic and I could resolved the issue with which I was struggling for 2 weeks in only 10 minutes with your brilliant resolution.
    That was a BIGGGGGGGG BIGGGGGG Help.
    Really appreciate it.
    Good Luck.

  26. Bob says:

    Sounds good…but my shared printer is on USB port on another computer. No SNMP from USB.

  27. Alana Purdie says:

    thank you so much, your web site helped me rectify my problem of offline printer. your instructions were so simple THANK YOU ….

  28. jalil says:

    Great, Thanks Robin for me it worked.
    Great post

  29. Warren says:

    Robin, thank you very much!!! This issue has been giving me fits for weeks. A simple check box was the solution.

  30. Zac Durst says:

    Wow, Thanks! Worked for me.

  31. Thank you very much. This solve the problem. I will tell our IT Manager the solution.

  32. Steve says:

    Legend, it worked, best piece of online help ever!

  33. Albert says:

    Worked like magic, thanks

  34. linda says:

    Thank you Robin worked like magic

  35. Heather says:

    Thank you! Our IT guy couldn’t figure this one out. But this worked! <3

  36. Olivier says:

    Great info, it worked for me !!!!

  37. Russ says:

    OMG, I’ve been trying to find an answer to this problem for years! I’ve read so many useless answers on Google. This worked a charm! Thank you!

  38. Dade says:

    This worked on Windows 7 Pro. Thanks for the post.

  39. Sally says:

    Can’t configure port “This operation is not supported”.
    Windows 7
    HP 7520
    WSD Port

  40. Anonim says:

    great fix.
    thank you

  41. Fab says:

    I thought it was a great solution when I did bring my Ricoh SPC252SF printer back to online…Until I tried to print a page but it won’t print :(

  42. Chris R. says:

    Thank you so much for this. Saved me a great deal of time on a potentially big problem.

  43. HenryK says:

    Didn’t work.
    I had port 192.168.0.1, unchecked SNMP but apply was greyed out and OK didn’t do the job.
    So I added port 192.168.0.4, unchecked SNMP hit Apply box which wasnt greyed out, and the printer is working again.

  44. HenryK says:

    Sorry first port was 192.168.0.3 not 192.168.0.1

    moderator can change my original post ?

  45. Hendrick says:

    Thanks a lot.It fixed the problem.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>