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


112 Comments

  1. DeborahK says:

    This was the best solution to my problem which started after the last Windows 7 update. I have three difference printers shared on a network and the older printer was always having this “offline” issue while the other two were random (going offline then back online when SNMP check worked – my guess). Didn’t like the hotfix solution from Microsoft so I am really happy I found this blog post. Such an easy solution which has worked like a charm after extensive searches on this issue. Thanks a million!

  2. LL says:

    Thank you so much for posting this solution. Your solution was the one that finally worked, and as you said, it was quite simple. Thank you for sharing, you’re a wonder!!

  3. Nick says:

    It works ! fixed a problem with Samsung CLP360 & Windows 8.1

  4. Rex Williams says:

    Your solution worked GREAT!! Thank you so much for the help.

  5. Chuck says:

    Your solution fixed issue we had with Lexmark CX310dn – Thank you!

  6. adyd says:

    hi guys
    i have a user that cannot print to a network kyocera Taskalfa 3500i.. the printers are manage on a print server with universal drivers.
    when a user wants to install a printer it intalls the driver auto.
    PROBLEM
    I got 14 users printing to the same printer, but recently one of that 14 users experienced a issue with printing “could not connect to printer”. I tryd reinstalling the printer with user privillege it does’nt work(which normally works).. i log on as admin and installs the printer it works, but then all other users cannot print, same error”could not connect to printer” for all other users, i also have tryd reinstalling with user privillege(which normally works. as soon as i add the other users to print to that network printer it kicks the one particular user off, and the user cannot print
    but the weird thing is that the specific user can print when he is alone connected to the printer but as soon as i reconnect the other users as in i start just by one user thats not having this issue it bombs out and disconnect the other user who origanlly reported the issue.
    weird!!!!!

  7. Abdul Manan says:

    Thank you sir and stay blessed…

  8. Angel Espinal says:

    hi, i have the same problem, but i’m having trouble to fix it with this solution, the thing is when i click configure port, it displays a warning saying: an error ocurred during port configuration. this operation is not supported.

    i did the registry DWORD and does not work in my case.

    need help please.

  9. Angel Espinal says:

    I have windows 7, both the printer and the computer are in the same network, it happened just a few changes in my computer, uninstalled team viewer, removed user password, and installed an update from microsoft.

  10. T J says:

    I came across your blog by searching the web. Finally the right solution for my problem! And so easy… :-) Thanks a lot!

  11. Lilly Pina says:

    Finally something worked! Thank you for posting this fix!

  12. Ram says:

    Thanks for your post. It worked . My comp is 64bit hence I have chosen “QWORD (64 BIT)” after restart it worked for me.

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