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


443 Comments

  1. Emil says:

    OMG.., it turned out to be that simple. Thanks for showing the way to fix this network printer problem. I really appreciate it.

  2. Jeff says:

    This even worked on a Microsoft 2003 server that suddenly took the network printer offline.

    Thanks!

  3. Len says:

    Thanks. It worked on a Win7 client printing to an HP Color LJ4700, too.

  4. Chris says:

    Thank you so much. This issue was driving me crazy!

  5. Juliana says:

    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…..

  6. John says:

    This has been a major problem for a couple of years, stopping me from using wireless printing on my network. A friend and I spent all evening trying to sort it out as I was sick of wires everywhere. In desperation we finally started to search the internet for inspiration and soon found this gem of a piece of information. Within minutes all was up and running.
    Many thanks for sharing the tip.

  7. Hero award first class!

    Why would they DO that?

    But thanks for posting the fix!

    Cheers
    David G

  8. Steve says:

    Priceless, very helpful, thanks

  9. Lin K. says:

    Sadly, this did not solve my problem. Did as instructed but nothing changed. Tried turning printer off and on and rebooting but still nothing. SNMP query shows it is NOT enabled but it is still offline. Sigh….

  10. Dave E. says:

    It worked! Thanks for the input….

  11. Steve R says:

    This fix worked in Windows 7 with an HP LaserJet M4345 MFP. Thanks for the tip–you saved me hours!

  12. Tim T says:

    This was so helpfull ! wasted loads of time trying to get my Xerox online again before I found this.

  13. Jason says:

    This also happened with a Bizhub C353 printer as well. This fixed the problem. Thank you.

  14. jim says:

    Thanks. Worked like a charm after several days of frustration.

  15. Tanya says:

    Thank you very much. This issue drove me crazy.

  16. WEndy says:

    It is showing my printer online but now it won’t print.

  17. Don Gregory says:

    Thanks fort eh input!! I had this Offline problem with Windows 7 and a Samsung SCX5530FN and the simple solutuion described in your post, corrected the issue.
    Cheers, Don G

  18. Don Gregory says:

    My email should read “Thanks for the input!!” Regards Don G

  19. Jeff K says:

    Worked for new Dell Windows 7 PC too. Thanks, saved a lot of time.

  20. Parag says:

    Worked on Windows 7 Professional & HP LaserJet P2050.

  21. Kara says:

    It says its online now but it still won’t print…

  22. Coxy says:

    Thanks for the Post… For me, when I went in to change the snmp tick box it wasnt ticked. I then ticked it and applied and it remains offline. Then I go back into the driver and untick it, apply again and it immediately comes back online. My only remaining problem is that the printer itself, keeps going offline after every five minutes or so. Is there anyway I can find out why this is happening? I have two identical printers in my printers and faxes box at different TCP/IP ports but only one of them keeps going offline. Really confusing!

  23. Coxy says:

    Further to my last post, here is a solution I found:
    In the print server Registry go to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\Print
    add a new DWORD “SNMPLegacy” with the value “1”
    Restart Spooler.
    When I did this the printer remained online and didnt change. (You may have to remove and re-add the printer one more time)

  24. Robin Wilson says:

    Thanks Coxy – I’ll add a reference to your comment to the main instructions in this post so other people can try it if my method doesn’t work for them.

    Cheers,

    Robin

  25. Sahvel says:

    And with that, I say Thank You. Your fix works. I must add, I was the one that turned off SNMP on the Kyocera device that started the problem.

  26. Ernst from Munich says:

    Hi Robin,
    great! I’m a silly user and could – nevertheless – fix the problem.
    Thank you very much!

  27. Craig says:

    Thanks! Brought my Brother HL2270DW back online in windows 7

  28. Gargamel says:

    Brilliant – a simple solution which worked for my brand new Lexmark Pro5000. Nice one.

  29. Bobby says:

    My printer works on my MAC, but not on my networked computer which has Windows Explorer. I found the SNMP box and disabled it. I thought I had fixed it, as the printer changed from “offline” to “ready.” But, surprise, it still won’t print.

  30. Appreciate it from Madden 😉

  31. Jon Speltz says:

    Thank you, our small business saved 125 dollars on a service call by using your blog. Cost us 2 minutes.
    Thanks

  32. Robin Wilson says:

    I’m very glad I was able to help Jon! Given that I saved you $125 – would you feel able to donate a small fraction of that (even just a couple of dollars) towards the cost of hosting my website? If so, there is a donate button on the top-right of my Free GIS Data page at http://www.freegisdata.rtwilson.com

  33. Hwlam says:

    Thank you very much. It very simple and work well.

  34. nyoka says:

    After days of struggling and struggling with users complaining not in a position to print I managed to get the printer online. Thanks thanks thanks

    Regards,
    Nyoka

  35. Shannon says:

    You’re a genius! Thank you so much!!

  36. baby_panda says:

    Robin, I get a message ‘Access denied’ just when I am about to ‘Configure Port’. Would you have any idea how to go about this?
    Many thanks x

  37. […] and Reviews. There is a huge range of things on here – from instructions on how to fix network printer problems in Windows 7 (which are now referred to by Microsoft’s own support site) to reviews of academic and […]

  38. Dave Petrina says:

    Thanks for posting this. It’s been driving me crazy for months.

  39. Diana Phillips says:

    This has been driving me mad for days since migrating all out printers to a new print server, so simple! Thank you for posting this!!!

  40. Mark says:

    I have the same problem with my printers going offline in window 7 (x64). My two printers are one direct connect ( via USB) and second one is wirless both are HP . This problem showed up about two weeks ago ,I have tried the hotfix , printer troubleshooting , removing printers and realted drivers and reinstalling back and restore none seems helped the suitaion.It is became most frustrating and time consuming efforts. Any help on this is very appriciated.

    Thanks

  41. Twit says:

    This change just solved a problem with an HP M4345 MFP printer. Thanks.

  42. Hinda says:

    Great Research Work. Thanks a lot. This problem has been hampering our works.

  43. Nathan Gana says:

    Thanks for this vital info. it actually worked for me on HP 2025dn printer.

  44. Jim Patterson says:

    Switched to a new router, have the same problem. Tried you solution, didn’t work….With my old router I didn’t this problem, any ideas?

    Jim

  45. Jonathan says:

    This fix worked for me, however, the issue should not be the fact that SNMP did not work, as SNMP is enabled on my printer with the community string set to public, as it is configured in the port settings. I believe the issue is the fact that SNMP is being blocked (Port 161) on the PC, as the issue was isolated to one PC amongst 40 other PCs. Troubleshooting this would take longer, so just simply disabling SNMP on the port is the quicker fix.

    Thanks for this

  46. PP says:

    Hello, we had a similar issue with network printer queue appearing offline in Windows Server 2008 R2.

    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.

    Thanks for the lead!

    -PP

  47. Iwan Maessen says:

    Thank you very much,
    This worked also on windows server 2012, just that simple!

  48. Roland says:

    You just resolved a puzzle I was working on for over two days. And made me look smart to my boss as well. 🙂 Thank you so much.

  49. […] steps, and your printer is offline, it could be a simple SNMP issue as explain here at Robin’s Blog, thank Google for the easy […]

  50. Satu Piispanen says:

    I have a network printer (Toshiba), that suddenly went offline. Like Bobby, I found the SNMP box and disabled it. I thought it fixed the problem, as the printer changed from “offline” to “ready.” But, surprise, it still won’t print. First the printer says it is printing, but after a while, it says there is an error. Windows can’t fix the problem, it says that there is no connection to the printer. What on earth is the problem now? All the connections (network wires etc.) seem to work, and the printer has worked fine before!

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