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2012-04-16

A+: Recording Symptoms and Error Codes

If you don’t find event logs useful, services are running properly, and your tests rule out power and interference, you must proceed to tests that focus on the hardware or software that appears to be the most likely cause of the problem.

Which test or diagnostic routine is the best one to start with? Before you perform any specific tests, review the clues you gathered from the client. Here’s an example: a document in Microsoft Word would print to a laser printer, but a project in Adobe InDesign would not.

Since all Windows-based programs use the same Windows printer driver, we can rule out the printer driver. Printer hardware or driver failures would prevent all software programs from printing; however, in this case, printing works from some programs but not others when the same printer and printer drivers are in use. Before you can solve this problem, you need more information about the printer. It’s time to use the printer’s self-test (a technique listed earlier in Table 15-5) for more information about the printer.

A laser printer’s self-test usually indicates the amount of RAM on board, the emulation (HP or PostScript), and firmware revisions. The amount of RAM on board is critical, because laser printers are page-at-a-time printers: The whole page must fit into the laser printer’s RAM to be printed.

Thus, there are two variables to this printing problem: the size of the RAM in the printer and the size of the documents the user is trying to print. The self-test reveals the printer has only the standard amount of RAM (2MB) on board. This amount of RAM is adequate for text, but an elaborate page can overload it. A look at the InDesign document reveals that it has a large amount of graphic content, whereas the Microsoft Word document is standard-sized text only with a minimal use of bold and italic formatting.


Your theory is to add RAM to the printer, and it can print the brochure. If you don’t have a suitable RAM module, how can you prove it?

Because Microsoft Word printed a text-only document flawlessly, you might be able to convince your client from that fact alone that the printer isn’t “broken” but needs a RAM upgrade—or a workaround.

Devising a workaround that will help the printer work is good for client satisfaction and will prove that your theory is correct. Have the client adjust the graphics resolution of the printer from its default setting to a lower amount, such as from 1,200 dpi to 600 dpi or from 600 dpi to 300 dpi, and print the brochure again. If a lack of printer memory is the cause of the problem, reducing the brochure’s dots per inch for graphics objects will enable the brochure to print. The client will look at the lower print quality and if the client is not satisfied with the lower print quality caused by lower graphics resolution, at that point you can recommend the RAM upgrade. Point out the provision for RAM upgrades in the printer manual if necessary. Remember, you’re not selling anything, but solving problems.

If the printer will not print at all, other tests are appropriate, such as the I/O port loopback test or hardware resources check.

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