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


210 Comments

  1. Equ says:

    3 weeks? 3 WEEKS for that f****** shit? OMG!!! Thank you very much for this post!!!!! Great!

  2. Dan says:

    +1 Robin. In my case adding the port in Win2008R2 couldn’t auto-detect the HP CLJ 4700. Ping and http were successful, so comm was OK. I manually setup the port & printer, But prints weren’t going through. Enabling SNMP on the printer fixed everything. Furthermore, read-only SNMP on the device is enough.

  3. Scott Drinkard says:

    THANK YOU! THANK YOU! THANK YOU!!! I’ve had one workstation on my network that has been unable to use one of the printers. It’s been driving me INSANE trying to figure it out. I’ve deleted the port. Removed the registry entries referring to it, you name it, I tried it. I was about to reinstall the OS when I came across your blog article. That was a life saver (or at least a sanity saver).

  4. Marius says:

    My network printers are configured over the WDS protocol therefore I dont have a SNMP option.It’s not supported.What can I do in this case ?

  5. YS says:

    Thank you so much! That simple after going crazy …!

  6. Yvonne Young says:

    Configure port is there, on 8.1, but nothing happens when I click on it..it’s sort of mute…disabled. We really shouldn’t have to go through all of this to get a printer to work!

  7. Cookie says:

    Worked! Thank you for posting this simple solution. I was going to put a help ticket in with the IT folks

  8. KuvanSpacey says:

    I followed these instructions and it fixed my issue. Turns out the cooporate network was blocking SNMP but this fixed it.

    http://spacecitytech.com/blog/removing-snmp-from-xerox-printer-drivers-un-grey-snmp-check-box/

  9. tukang says:

    Thanks it’s help me..

  10. Sven Svensson says:

    Dude! It’s 5 year later, and you just solved a several year old problem for me! Suddenly all printers is online and working! Pat youself on your back and feel good tonight! You just saved me from a mental breakdown! I love you!

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