/ 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.


@hhennessy Hi Hollie – From the recent posts it looks as if HP is using a firmware update to prevent use of third party toner cartridges.

Same problem on my m254dw. Is there a way to revert back to an old firmware version? Thx

It might be worth contacting HP and asking, DP. From the introduction to this topic: “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.”

Robert Taylor says:
15 November 2020

HP is doing more than make consumer access to third party cartridges difficult. It recently revoked the security certificates for Apple computers on a range of printers including my HP 1510. HP say Apple did it. Apple say they would never do it unless asked to do so by HP. My 1510 still works fine under windows 10 but will not work at all with my iMac. I have tried various approaches with HP tech support and elsewhere but to no avail. I am left with a useless printer and 3 brand new, in box cartridges. HP telephone agents such as “customer service” have no authority to organise redress. I have left several messages with them asking for contact with a manager. I have emailed their customer services asking for contact with a manager. HP just ignore all requests. This is a shoddy commercial practice to try and force people to buy new printers. It certainly works though. I have bought a new printer – from Canon. It is great. I will never buy an HP product again.

Hi Robert – The HP website says that your 1510 is compatible with MacOS 10.14 (Mojave): https://printerdrivers.com/hp-deskjet-1510-driver Which version of OSX do you have on your iMac?

One of the reasons I have stayed with HP printers is that they are usually good at supporting new and older Macs.

Anne C says:
16 November 2020

I have a HP Laser Jet Pro MFP M281 fdw. I responded to a prompt on the machine to update the firmware a few days ago and since then the printer is not responding. The error message is that the ‘supplies are not communicating’ with the printer. Yet, all these 3rd party (and relatively new) toner cartridges worked perfectly well before I did the software update. This is most definitely a ploy by HP to force me to buy a whole new set of HP cartridges. However, I am nor working (due to Covid 10) and to replace all these cartriges will cost over £400! I feel reall angry with HP to do this especillay at a time when people like me are going through hard times. I am totally disgusted with this company. Is there anything you you could suggest I should do to sort this out, please?

Hi Anne – If you search the web for ‘supplies are not communicating’ you will find examples of other users who have seen this message after a firmware update. I suggest you contact HP and ask for advice. It might also be worth contacting the supplier of your toner cartridges, who might be able to help. Unless the Competition and Markets Authority acts, we may all be forced to pay silly prices.

Anne Conway says:
20 November 2020

Thank you, Wavechange, for the advice. The HP forums were filled with people having the same problem as me. One post suggested programming the printer to accept downgrades, and then said to re-install a previous firmware driver. However, HP must have got wind of this because the said previous driver was quickly removed from the HP website. Anyway, I managed to get hold of the driver else where on the net, and this solution totally worked for me. I won’t be trusting HP again with thier ‘updates’ and neither will I be buying any more of their products. To act like this, especially at a time when so many people are enduring financial hardship, is disgraceful. If HP really did sign the voluntary agreement to allow 3rd party ink etc, why are they allowed to behave like this? Yet another unenforcable law?!

Thanks for coming back, Anne and congratulations for getting your printer back in operation. Andy posted about HP having removed earlier versions of firmware from their website on the previous page of this Convo: https://conversation.which.co.uk/technology/printer-software-update-third-party-printer-ink/#comment-1611268

Would you please report this to the CMA, which is responsible for policing anti-competitive behaviour?

Anne Conway says:
20 November 2020

I shall most certainly report this to the CMA and will let you know the outcome.

Thanks Anne. I am surprised that business has not put an end to printer manufacturers blocking third party cartridges. Now that HP is doing this with expensive toner cartridges, perhaps business will help.

booroger says:
19 November 2020

I just updated my Epson WF-4725 firmware and now it tells me I am not using Epson ink and my only on-screen option now is to “Change Ink” and must use Epson inks which currently are on sale in a certain large PC store for £74.90 – the printer only cost £65 so it’s going into the bin and I’ll find a company that allows third party software. I can’t copy or scan either let alone try to print via Word, Excel etc. BE WARNED, DON’T DO THE NOVEMBER 20 FIRMWARE UPDATE as once you do, the compatible cartridges will be no good unfortunately. So long Epson after 20 odd years of buying your printers

Jill Holmes says:
19 November 2020

Just performed an “update” of my printer software via automatic download this morning. Since that very moment, none of my third party brand toner cartridges will work. Infuriating.

Jill Holmes says:
19 November 2020

Sorry. It is an HP M281FDW.

Andrew says:
21 November 2020

My expensive HP Color Laser Jet Pro stopped printing and went off line. It permanently displayed “Supply Problem”. This followed a firmware update a few days ago.
Looking on line it appears that this update is the culprit.
Fortunately, after a very frustrating afternoon I found someone on line who had managed to upload the previous firmware version.
HP don’t make it easy but I did manage it. Everything appears as it was – the printers on line printing and scanning. I am surprised it’s actually legal to prevent the use of third party ink.

Hi Andrew – If you have a look at the posts on this and the previous page you will see that HP firmware updates are causing problems for laser printer owners and that providing you can find earlier firmware you should be able to rectify the problem. Best of luck and please let us know how you get on.

I have a HP Laserjet Pro MFP 180nw. It is about 2 years old and worked perfectly. Until the upgrade.
Now it is just locked up with supply error.
This happened to me on my HP 8630 Inkjet. But someone sued HP and they reversed that one. 3rd party cartridges work fine on the 8630.

So, now what? Wait for another Class Action suit? Or just toss a perfectly good, expensive laser printer and all of the cartridges in the dumpster?

I have 3 HP printers and I think I will systematically replace each one. HP cartridges for the 180 are around $225.00. The 3rd party units are about $90.00.

I do not want to buy another printer and run inrto the same problem. I am looking at the
Canon Color Image CLASS MF644Cdw…does anyone have experience with this printer?


Viviane says:
24 November 2020

I had Epson printers for years and the last year I receive a message before every update, which is almost daily!!!! It says that there is a new updat…I click that I do not want it and deny them to activate it but they still do so. Then after this happens I keep getting a message : It seems like you are not using original Epson cartridges etc etc….Hard to get rid of this message in the middle of my screen! It is my right to use whatever I want in my printer and I find this pretty rude to treat customers like this!
I buy in bulk and the 3rd party ink works a treat and cost less than 1/4 of the originals then!
I will not buy a new Epson if this problem has not been solved asap!