/ 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.

Comments
Guest
Disenchanted says:
6 August 2017

When trying to rectify this problem, please do not fail to address also the fact that the printer manufactures are deliberately mis-stating the facts when they say that the ink is about to run out – as they do. This leads to perfectly usable cartridges being scrapped.

Guest
Pat Doody says:
19 August 2017

Epson XP 710. Up until today third party cartridges worked fine. Having installed two replacements cannot get anything to print. Tried everything including diabling print monitor. No joy… Feed up with Epson

Guest
ISITme? says:
26 August 2017

I have had 4 printers in 2 years all suffered from buying compatible cartridges. Somehow EPSON has got in the game and don,t know how but it is like they are BIG BROTHER looking over your shoulder, interrupting printing, saying not EPSON Inks taking over my pc and printer

Guest
Bob Nicholls says:
1 September 2017

Have used compatible cartridges from purchase of Epson printer, today replaced an empty for new and get a message ‘unrecognised cartridge’ – put an old empty ‘original’ cartridge in and got the message ‘low ink replace cartridge’ Not best pleased with this and the only explanation I can think has caused this is was an automatic printer firmware update from about a week ago.

Guest

Your right Bob update caused it. – Warning to all Epson and other make owners — on installation – block any updates , on Windows block any printer updates . As there s an “arrangement” with MS+ printer manufacturers many updates now say – “security updates ” and are forced on Windows 10 Home.

Guest
Simon says:
3 September 2017

HP have messed my printer up totally with forced updates… any ideas what printer to use instead… i dont want to be foced to use their ink.

Guest

Simon as of October last year the EFF -electronic frontier foundation contacted HP CEO to rescind their devious “update ” disguised as a “security update ” to date he has refused giving all sorts of excuses . Your best bet is an ink tank machine where you fill it yourself but they are expensive could be £200+ 8000 people have signed a petition to remove the blocking –so far no joy

Guest
Bill Matthews says:
4 September 2017

Your article says “you absolutely should be able to use compatible ink – manufacturers have signed up to a voluntary agreement”
Are you doing enough to hold them to account?

Guest

“Should be able to” doesn’t imply– guaranteed to Bill but I am sympathetic to your point . Typically companies “speak with forked tongue ” they have reigned on their “promises ” in the face of Profit. It makes trusting companies advertising comments look foolish. Just like– the English Health Service is “safe ” in our hands while slyly privatising it ( in stages ).

Guest
Ron Ibbotson says:
3 October 2017

I had this problem recently with an Epson WF-2510. Solution? I uninstalled the software, deleted every trace of Epson on the PC by going to the bottom left of screen , clicking start and typing “Epson” in search program and files. I deleted everything with that word in by using the right click menu. I then reinstalled the disc and un-ticked the initial box that wants you to connect to the Epson site.
Works fine now with 3rd party inks. I won’t be doing updates.

Guest

Ron you are living proof all my posts about removing all traces and not ticking connect to Epson works but I have to say the latest ones are built into the firmware so re-installation wont work in their case

Guest
B DiBell says:
6 October 2017

My HP recently refused to use the third-party ink that has been working fine. It keeps saying to remove and check one cartridge or the other – or both. That makes no difference. I’m not about to buy HP ink in case it’s the printer itself that is the problem. I will be buying another printer, and it won’t be HP.

Guest
Nikki says:
20 October 2017

After an update 2 days ago my HP C4480 has just decided that my cartridges are incompatible, despite quite happily printing with them for a week or so after being changed. I had always previously used the HP own brand but couldn’t afford them currently as my new job pays less that my previous. Really disgusted with HP for pulling a stunt like this, as when I was trying to find out why this had happened, I discovered that they are marking the cartridges in some way to not be recognised if not their own brand. Have tried all the fixes that I can find, unable to find the firmware that was released on Oct 12 2016 on the HP website that is supposed to remedy the problem. Anyone one know where I can find it, and do I have any way to get my printer working again as I’m stony broke and cannot afford a new printer (obs never again HP or any other company that pulls such a low down trick) or cartridges. Thanks

Guest

Very sorry to say Nikki , I posted previously that HP have TWICE said that they would rescind this –and lied . Due to shareholder pressure -guess what ? they went back on their word TWICE . For those who think I am quoting from OLD news , listen up-Thursday -September 14 -2017 -that’s TWO -O-ONE-SEVEN .What they have done is force HP,s Dynamic Security Feature to block cartridges .BUT Nikki -there is hope (well you can try it ) go to HP.s support page and search for a firmware update to your printer that DISABLES it and install the NEW firmware . IF the update is the same as the one installed and it doesn’t work get back. Support page- : https://support.hp.com/us-en/document/c05308850 Nikki PLEASE -for the sake of other posters let me know if this works –or not.

Guest

It would be interesting to know whether providing printer updates that prevent a printer working with third party cartridges constitutes criminal damage.

HP has provided downloads that will reverse the effect of the software update for those who are aware that this exists but why are HP still producing firmware updates that prevent use of third party cartridges?

Please can we have legal advice from Which?

Guest
Teresa Walker says:
23 October 2017

I have an Epson XP-530 and tried everything to get it to accept the compatible ink cartridges I have purchased and still saying not recognised, help please.

Guest

Teresa- the problem with many “fixes ” for Epson is like HP they upgraded your firmware and its -non-violate . In other words its into the processor and wont be affected by unplugging/re-installing/old drivers etc .This type of update for your XP Expression series is an OPTION , so you must have chosen that option . That’s no help for you but for other Epson users beware of this. BUT if its just the driver that is blocking third party inks then RE-install your printer from scratch using the installation disc or original download and it will work . Making SURE you DON’T allow updates . An American tech. company can overcome it BUT it costs as much as a new printer.

Guest
Teresa Walker says:
24 October 2017

Thank you I will try the re install, is there any printer out there that will work with compatibles without costing me a fortune please

Guest

I am looking Teresa, unfortunately they are few and far between . Have you considered an ink-tank printer you buy refills to top therm up. Problem is they are much dearer . Also dearer to buy but long term cheaper to run are laser printers , no heads to clog up but they aren’t cheap. I will keep looking.

Guest
Teresa Walker says:
26 October 2017

Thank you Duncan.

Guest
Teresa Walker says:
30 October 2017

Unless someone out there cracks the cartridge chip or Epsom let us use compatibles we’re done I think so laser printer it is for me and the XP-530 goes in mothballs as they say.

Guest

My next printer will be a laser one Teresa . Dear but long term page costs are very low . There is a US company that can reprogramme firmware but it costs as much as a new printer.

Guest
Kevin Ratcliffe says:
1 November 2017

Having the same issue with this printer. Figured a way around it?

Guest

Kevin I don’t know the printer you are using but what is happening is that manufacturers are imposing a form of DRM ( digital Rights Management ) this is a big issue in the USA where most of the popular browsers that you use will be including it , if not already . The latest Firefox is only allowing apps from its own store and removing “old apps ” that it doesnt like as its introducing DRM , Google Chrome will be the same. I have tried fighting this along with US organisations but its being introduced by Congress as it brings profit to big business USA . What you need is a programme that will remove DRM I personally dont have that . Its possible to obtain it at a price from US tech companies but as I said above its dear. This isn’t the old -change the chip in the ink container story that some websites have a way of overcoming , this is into the basic CPU operation . For those now wanting away from DRM get the latest PaleMoon browser downloaded – freeware / open source no DRM etc etc otherwise you are going to be blocked from downloading many photos/videos etc.

Guest

Hi Duncan, thanks for the link, unfortunately my printer is not one of those listed on that page – they all appear to be office jet printers whereas mine is a typical home printing photosmart (C4480), so none of their ‘released’ patches work. When I looked on the HP website there were no firmware patches under my printer type. It’s even more annoying as I had set all updates to request permission before being downloaded apart from Microsoft security ones so I guess it must have come in on one of those.

Guest

Bang on Nikki, shrewd thinking . MS/Windows 10 has an “agreement ” with big US printer companies to download printer “updates ” as “security updates ” which bypass your printer manual programming . Funnily enough it was a high tech,US website I got that info from . You have to specially BLOCK those updates something that a Win 10 HOME user cant normally do. Even the Professional version will still (after a while ) bypass your instructions . Only an Enterprise version of Windows can block all updates—tricky – but money counts .Their excuse ? much needed security updates must be applied to “safeguard the win 10 system . See you don’t own Win 10 -Redmond /WA do and by implication your own computer thats why I have Linux.

Guest

Wavechange -take note of Nikki,s reply only CERTAIN printers can be unblocked –a very sly advertising “initiative ” .

Guest

@ldeitz Hi Lauren – This Convo is 18 months old. Please could you let us know if Which? is still looking at this problem? As I mentioned above, it would be interesting to know whether providing printer updates that stop a printer working with third party cartridges constitutes criminal damage.

Thanks Duncan. I forgot to mention that I have an HP OfficeJet 7510 and that is not listed. I have no intention of installing updates.

Guest
Amy Sung says:
23 October 2017

I am a designer and used to print heavily on full color and on photo paper, owning 2-3 “prosumer” level 13×19 printers at all times. For past 15 years, I manage to not feel not completely victimized by printer manufacturer’s extortion practice by using 3rd party ink 50% of the time to balance out my overall ink cost. I have come to realize that Epson, HP, Brothers – they are all the same in their ink practice. I have no problem paying high price for a printer, but I do have a huge issue with nuisance when it is manufactured and intended to hook users for more ink. Now, I am so fed up with these printers that I have switched to complete digital work flow, gotten rid of the 2 printers at home, reclaimed precious desktop space, and enjoying cleaner air at my workstation. When I do need a print done occasionally, I make a PDF, go to my neighborhood library or print shop downstairs and pay for a print. That also helps me stay active by getting a 10 minute walk. At the end of the day, we are printers manufacturers’ victims because we choose to be. We could render their business obsolete by changing the way we work, going as digital as possible. Printer manufacturers should take a page off Apple – I pay premium for their products (and have multiple devices) because they work, they don’t give me a hassle just so that they could make an extra buck in “less obvious ways”.

Guest
bishbut says:
25 October 2017

Do these printers work using their own brand refilled inks?

Guest

I know what you are getting at Bishbut , refill using some type of syringe in the original containers or you could by an ink-tank printer.

Guest
janet Abrahams says:
10 November 2017

Yet another victim of epson updates. I had no idea that this would prevent my using compatible ink cartridges, i believed that the update was necessary for the printer to continue to work properly. now it will not accept the cartridges that it previously accepted without a problem. I can’t get help from their online techs because all they say is the non genuine ink may have damaged the printer! i am not about to spend about £30 on a set of genuine cartridges, on the off chance they will work. may as well buy a new printer for very little more and start again. it won’t be an epson though.

Guest

I wish I could give you a positive reply Janet but Epson are pretty set in their dogma and are not about to be accommodating. Its in the firmware, the next printer you install, DO NOT let it set up automatically but block “updates” manually which might be worded as “security ” by both the company AND Windows .