/ Technology

Has a printer update rendered your cartridges redundant?

Printer software update

You fire up your PC, turn on your printer and send a file to print and then… ‘cartridge not recognised’. The printer won’t print. So what’s changed since yesterday? You may be the latest victim of a printer update.

Third-party ink cartridges are generally a fraction of the price of printer-branded inks, but we’ve heard reports of printer updates rendering these cartridges unusable.

We asked Which? members to share their printing problems and a number of them sounded like they related to software updates. However, with some printers set to automatically update, it can be hard to pin a specific problem to a specific update. Ian C told us:

‘I bought compatible inks. After a few weeks they suddenly stopped working, with a message saying they were incompatible. Replaced them with new ones but had the same problem.’

Tony G had a similar experience:

‘Lo and behold, my printer has started rejecting – that is, not printing when I use third-party cartridges – but when I then replace them with printer-branded ones it seems to work fine.’

We tried updating the firmware on three second-hand printers in our lab and the printers worked just as well with third-party ink before updating as they did afterwards. So updates won’t always stop your cartridges from being recognised.

HP printers rejecting ink cartridges

However, there have been some very recent victims. Just last week we heard a number of reports from members whose HP printers have stopped working with the third-party inks.

Mr White’s printer ink cartridges have been affected by the latest update:

‘I own an HP 3055A printer which uses the popular 301 cartridge, today I changed the cartridges and find that the printer will no longer print as it detects that a non-HP cartridge has been installed. A printer update was reported as being available from HP when I turned the printer on – on the 7 March – and I updated prior to installing the new cartridges. After installing the new cartridge the information screen on the printer showed the message “incompatible cartridge detected”.’

Rob Stone has also suffered at the hands of a recent update to his HP Officejet 6600 and said:

‘I’ve been using third-party inks with no issues for several months. It was when I accidentally ran an HP update from my PC that the problem occurred. The error message said “There is a problem with the printer ink or system. Turn printer off, then on. If problem persists, contact HP”. It prevents me from moving to any other menu on the printer.’

Your right to use third-party printer inks

As iPhone 6 users suffering at the hands of the ‘Error 53’ message know only too well, update issues aren’t only a problem for printers. But, fortunately for affected phone users, Apple released a fix.

It may not be quite so simple to roll back a printer update. We’ve previously spoken to printer manufacturers about software updates, with Brother, Canon and Epson telling us that reverting to a previous firmware version wasn’t usually possible at all. HP stood out from the crowd by saying that you could roll ball its updates, but it’s not an obvious or simple process.

In light of this latest glut of update issues, we’ve approached HP to find out what’s causing the problem and whether it’ll be possible for those affected to get their printers working with their inks again.

You absolutely should be able to choose to use third-party ink in your printer. The big consumer printer brands have all signed up to a voluntary agreement which includes a provision around not preventing third-party ink from being used in their printers.

If you’ve suffered a ‘printerruption’ as result of a printer software update – or which you suspect is as a result of a recent update – we want to hear about it.

James Dinius says:
24 June 2018

Yep. Firmware update on my EPSON XP-330, cartridges stopped working immediately after. Doesn’t take a genius to do the math. Isn’t this illegal???


Epson have got good corporate attorney,s – good connections to Congress -good speech writers James you should read their T & C ,s they sound so reasonable while at the same time stopping you from using third party cartridges , William Shakespeare couldn’t have written a better story although it turns out like a Stephen King novel. In their “eyes ” they are not doing anything illegal and even with this countries laws in place they mean nothing when up against a giant US conglomerate . With Donald about to take over trade in this country with his American First policy and TM about to cave in to his demands the future for the British public looks bleak .


Your last sentence, Duncan: You keep telling us that, but what do you propose we do about it?

What American goods do we have to buy for which there is not a European or rest-of-the-world alternative?

America’s big problem is that their industries have lost the home market. Trying to hurt your allies seems a desperate response.

The EU’s decision to target Harley Davidson and other specific brands or products in its retaliation against the latest import tariff increases is not to demonstrate that they will have massive individual impact but to drive home the point to the industrial heartlands of America [where such products are made] that have supported the President’s protectionist policies that it could be a self-defeating exercise. Time will tell where all this ends. My own view is that it will go the way of PanAm and TWA from whose collapse and loss of global dominance America has never really recovered or adjusted.


John-I would like a resolute NO ! from TM or her Cabinet to allowing US conglomerates to destroy British internal democracy by suing local regional/district councils policies because BRITISH voters would rather have British firms etc running their local affair than a foreign country like America TELLING the voters -do that/vote for that and we will sue you . Would Americans allow that to happen in the USA ? In other words our country RUN from Wall Street / the White House . Well do I say UK=satrap of the USA hegemony / Empire = Costa Rica etc . I have already posted here and supplied links to a vote on keeping trade deals like this SECRET and not allowing Parliament to vote on it until its a fait accompli. I have already posted that Richard Branston has collected £2 Million of YOUR money because he didn’t get a NHS contract taken from NHS resources , of course a £Billionaire always needs another yacht in the Bahamas .


You haven’t answered my questions, Duncan, and I suspect you have not even asked the Prime Minister to give you the assurance you are seeking. This is getting too far off-topic now and, as you say, you have said all this before, so best leave it until we know what’s really happening.


Thats the problem John its going to be forced through and then its a case of — live with it . Not good enough for me nor the British public. Donald has already announced he will hit the Germany car industry hard if he is not obeyed . The US is living on the biggest debt balloon in the world , worthless bonds -money printing and the dollar relies on gold backing it and many countries repatriating their gold and now the dollar is being undermined by other countries using local currency . Just watch gold prices John.


What has all that to do with Printer software updates?


Control/power Ian , its not in our hands , its in the hands of the “second level American army ” — the commercial wing , backed up by US legislation that overrides foreign legislation . Read your history , every Empire introduced its laws into those it ruled – even before Rome , its taxation , its trade rules and the satraps obeyed . Nothing has changed , just another Empire giving out orders and the ruled countries fearing to disobey this time from sanctions . Ink is just a symptom of a growing control from abroad .