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


282 Comments

  1. BOSS says:

    Hell yeh..bout time aye…
    thx heaps

  2. Tammy says:

    Awesome…first article I found and it worked. Thanks so much.

  3. Charley says:

    Thank you! Worked for me with a Lexmark printer in Windows 10.

  4. Patrick says:

    When i click Configure Port, it comes up with an error message saying the operation could not be completed
    ‘error 0x0000007b’ Please could you help me on that one.

  5. Carol Malaschak says:

    Thank you so much I have worked for hours trying to fix this and you fixed it..TYVMMMM

  6. Rose says:

    Thank you so much for your March 10 2016 instructions. Worked perfectly on Win10 on Surface Pro. It took me a lot of web searching to find this and it was so worth the time ☺

  7. Natasha says:

    Thanks man!
    You are my hero!!!!!
    With regards, Natasha

  8. David says:

    yep, worked for me on Windows 7

    many thanks, I have been trying to figure this out for ages, I thought it was a firewall problem, but this simple step fixed it

    thanks again

    David

  9. Mark Wesley says:

    thanks for answering that question bingo! nearly ended up buying a new printer or paying for an IT visit!

  10. Terry says:

    Two Windows10 systems on our home network with old Laserjet4100, near identical setups, one had the offline problem, the other did not.
    I have been able in the past to get temporary solution by uninstall/reinstall.
    After a recent failure and replacement of router, 1PC online and functioning perfectly, the other refusing to go online. I noticed that port configs were different and had tried many & various suggestions to no avail.

    Robin’s solution worked instantly. The other PC still has SNMP enabled and reports its Community name as “public” and the Device Index as 1. It continues to work normally.

    Thanks Robin, my wife is over the moon at being able to print again.

  11. Cindy says:

    trying to “configure port” on the machine (Vista) that has the printer connected with the cable and it says “An error occurred during port configuration. Access is denied.” If I try to configure the port on the shared computer (the one showing off line is Windows 7) it is greyed out. What do I do now? It has worked great for several years and now suddenly this happens.

  12. Martin says:

    Muchas gracias por la ayuda,realmente sorprendido de la simplicidad de la solucion 🙂

  13. ian says:

    “thumbs up for me”….taras kul. really useful

  14. Sharon says:

    Thanks, sorted. Ive been trying to solve this problem for ages – was just about ready for throwing it out!!!!!!

  15. Marklw says:

    Thank you very much. A simple fix to a big problem for me.

  16. Anthonyk747 says:

    Windows 10 (upgraded from Windows 7 SP1 64-bit).

    When I try to configure the port, it says: “Error. This operation is not supported.” I’m running as Admin and it won’t do it.

  17. kefealo says:

    Thank youuuuu!

    Worked like a charm!

    Thank you guy for this!

  18. FLKZ says:

    I set SNMPLegacy to 1 in HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\Print

    I recommend this method because it will work with any printer.

    Thanks a lot for the trick !

  19. Alain Vandal says:

    Five years later this solution still works! Thank you for sharing.

  20. Vishvesh Ghanekar says:

    this worked .. thanx

  21. Tafadzwa Namz says:

    Great stuff it works real good

  22. Miss Behave says:

    Sometimes it’s not fixable by the above-mentioned…due to your IT people moving things over to a new server except your printer… (*sigh* the joys of working for a 3rd world campus…) so then you have to call them up and make them realise they need to do that…

  23. Gill H says:

    I’m afraid it didn’t work for me. Still showing offline. It doesn’t let me add ports either. Currently on 192…… But it didn’t work in USB either.

  24. Remco says:

    Where can we do that in Windows 10 ?

    Setting the SNMP ‘group name’ to “public” can also help (thanks PP)

  25. Michael Carley says:

    When clicking on ‘configure port’, I get a message that says ‘this operation is not supported.’

    Brother printer, Windows 10. I’ve been having this problem for a year or two, prior to installation of Windows 10 (had 7 before)

  26. Erik says:

    brilliant! really solved the issue. thanks!

  27. Elaine says:

    After trying this it wouldn’t print but with a different message. I tried enabling the SNMP again but now it says printer in an error state…!

  28. caz says:

    YAY!! THANKS so much this just worked for me with Windows 10

  29. Thanks you for sharing great article.

  30. Don Jenkins says:

    Thank you! This solved my problem on Windows 10 with an old HP OfficeJet Pro L7700 series printer.

  31. greg says:

    looks i’m the only unlucky one here to leave a comment asking for help. i have a brother HL2270DW and win 10 64-bit enterprise. it’s been a pain in the neck for quite a while and I have called brother spent hours to reset every time until I googled your post today.

    I did exactly what you said, reboot the printer and the PC, however it’s still showing offline.

  32. Jo says:

    Thank you so much!! This is incredibly helpful.

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