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


425 Comments

  1. Wanless Southwick says:

    My network printer’s OFF-line problem was caused by the printer port being set to “WSD Port” instead of “Standard TCP/IP Port.”

  2. julius says:

    ooohhh… Thanks a lot this worked for me.

  3. Ana says:

    Seriously, thank you so much! I’ve been deleting and reinstalling my printer every time and now, I’m saved!

  4. ThankfulGuy says:

    Not sure how to move this link to the top of a google search but it should be. Thanks for the help.

  5. BBJ says:

    Thank u very much just a life saver.

  6. Thanks your soled out my problem.

  7. thank you so much.your article was really helpful for me..it really helped me with my issues

  8. James says:

    Fantastic. You were right it is a simple fix and very well expanined.

  9. nice post thanxs for sharing.

  10. Sam Sharma says:

    Thanks for sharing this blog with us. Its working with windows 10 computer also. Thanks again

  11. AD says:

    YES!!! Thank you!!!
    LOVE YOUR WORK!

  12. Sandy says:

    I have Windows 10, and when I right click on the printer, nothing happens. Manage printer option only lets me see my queue, print a test page, and other nonsense.

  13. nice robin blogs wonderfull and more work

  14. Corne Bergakker says:

    Hi Sandy.

    Please see if this helps. Open Control Panel. Open Devices and Printers. Right-click on the printer and select printer properties. Click on the ports tab. Click on Configure Port at the bottom.

  15. Debbie Gore says:

    Trying your directions. When I click on configure ports an error comes up saying error cannot configure ports. Yikes. Help. My printer was fine, then I could not get online and had to uninstall a firewall and since then cannot access printer

  16. Debbie Gore says:

    Also, it keeps telling me my printer is off and it is on..Thanks

  17. Nat says:

    Worked for me

  18. Xolo Msolo says:

    Thank you very much it worked on my windows server 2012 r2

  19. Travis Kurtz says:

    Um… That worked!!!!!!!! Thanks

  20. Tia says:

    I just wish I came across your blog a lot sooner. That was pretty quick and easy.

    Thanks a lot!

  21. Tia says:

    I just wish I came across your blog sooner.
    That was quick and easy.

    Thanks a lot!

  22. nice article more information

  23. Hemant Rathore says:

    yes, its working perfectly thanks for this artical.

  24. Davy Boy says:

    Sandy right click on printer icon and choose printer Properties (not properties at bottom) then printer properties box opens, then Follow Robins instructions. Copied below

    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.

  25. Thank you so much for posting this. This problem was driving me crazy and I was so glad to come across your post! Such a simple fix…..I just Found your site and it led us to discovering that our network printer had it’s SNMP group name disabled. Set it to “public” and the printer queue immediately started working.

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