Updated: Jun 14, 2019
HP firmware updates to troubleshoot HP laser printer communication errors.
HP laser printer hit the market, but I’ve been around long enough to see the laser printer evolve to keep pace with the technological revolution.
Trouble-shooting printer communication problems has become a time-consuming task because there are more variables than ever to consider (i.e. firmware, networks, the Internet). For many technicians, a routine HP printer service call turns into a nightmare when they discover the dreaded communication error. You know what I am talking about, but if you are new to HP printers or the industry, I am referring to 49.xxxx and 79.xxxx communication errors.
It would be glorious, almost heavenly, if there was more information published on these codes, but a little patience and some basic trouble-shooting can go a long way. As I stated before, laser printers have transformed from basic printing machines into multi-function products that can do virtually anything.
Therefore, printers now have to communicate not only with the computer, but also with various optional accessories. Back in the day, the firmware (the printer’s internal software) was part of the formatter board so communication issues were easy to solve.
Types of HP Laser Printer Firmware
We will begin with the oldest type of firmware. This firmware and base memory were in the form of a dual inline memory module (DIMM) and is allocated to a slot on the formatter board. This adds to the aggravation when trouble-shooting communication errors because the firmware contains the printer’s operating instructions and cannot be removed to trouble-shoot. Doing so will produce a blank display and essentially a non-functional printer.
Next up are printers that contain compact flash cards called flash firmware.
Release around the same time, HP placed the firmware directly on the laser printer's formatter board.
Finally the modern HP laser printers use EMMC cards which stands for embedded multi media cards. These plug directly onto the printer's formatter board.
Determining the machine’s current level of firmware is easy. Print a configuration
page look for the firmware date code in the upper left hand corner. Upgrading the firmware throughout the life of the machine is a good idea especially when the printer and software are experiencing communication problems. For these printers, a list of symptoms that can be cured by upgrading the firmware is available inline.
For printers that use a firmware DIMM or is part of the printer’s formatter board, figuring out whether or not the printer requires an upgrade is a little trickier. First, unlike the machines that have flash firmware, HP does not provide a list of possible symptoms that can be cured by an update.
If you are unsure whether or not the printer requires an update, compare your machine’s datecode to the one most current firmware number. To do this simply print a configuration page and compare it whats listed on HP's support software and driver website.
What about trouble-shooting these 49.xxxx and 79.xxxx error codes? The first step is to isolate the printer from all external devices. Upon installing any optional device (e.g. high capacity feeder, copy module), be sure the printer has the most recent firmware revision to ensure proper communication between the printer and the optional accessory. Start here www.HP.com.
For example, the LaserJet 9000 will display a 49.xxxx error if the printer’s firmware cannot communicate with the new optional device. Disconnect the printer from all I/O interfaces and test the machine standing alone. If the error persists, download the current firmware revision for machines that contain flashable firmware. Next, remove all hardware accessories one at a time (except the firmware DIMM).
If the error remains with a stripped down logic board, either the firmware DIMM has failed or needs to be upgraded. The worst-case scenario is that the formatter is bad. Once again, for printers that use a firmware DIMM, trouble-shooting a 49.xxxx or 79.xxxx error can cause a few headaches.
In this scenario, the communication error will lock up the machine, preventing you from obtaining the latest revision number. Therefore, it is of great value to keep current records on all your customers’ printers.
Trouble-shooting communication errors can often eat a big chunk of the day for a HP printer service technician. Answering a laser printer service call requires much more than just a toolbox. Most of the technicians I speak with on a daily basis are dealing with much more than a fuser or paper jam error. HP Laser printers are becoming increasingly software dependent to make our daily tasks easier. Hopefully, knowing how to approach firmware and the dreaded 49.xxxx and 79.xxxx service errors will make your job easier.