Updated: Aug 17, 2021
The NVRAM Reset Primer
If you have ever troubleshooted a laser printer, you’ve probably read the suggestion before: Perform a NVRAM reset. Some printer tech support gurus talk about this as a panacea solution to printer issues, but what is NVRAM? And what printer problems can it actually solve?
NVRAM stands for Non-volatile random-access memory and it is random-access memory that maintain data without having access to power. In other words while the printer is off or in standby it the memory will retain data.
When your printer begins to have strange errors, you’ll probably run through some typical troubleshooting service suggestions, such as powering it off and on and perhaps performing a Cold Reset.
Your service tasks list should also contain additional an procedure that can solve many mysterious printer issues —wiping or initializing the NVRAM.
What is NVRAM Reset
Sometimes due to age or electrical variances, the settings stored in a printer’s NVRAM may become corrupted or the chip itself might fail. This may cause all types of unusual behaviors or failures – error codes may be displayed (most commonly a 68 Error), calibrations may fail, image quality may suffer or a printer may lock up or not start up.
An NVRAM initialization clears all settings/values and forces the printer to revert to default or empty/blank settings.
This can force the printer to reconfigure itself and rewrite these values/settings anew, clearing out any corrupt data along the way and replacing it with clean accurate data that allow the printer to work as expected again.
A printer’s NVRAM is used to store settings essential to the printer’s identity and operation. These include the printer’s serial number, network settings, event log, page counts, maintenance counts and service menu settings.
Because these settings are so important to a printer’s functionality, they must be retained even where the printer is powered off so that when the printer is restarted, it can again utilize these settings to start up and run as expected. These settings are kind of like BIOS settings in a PC.
This need to retain these settings requires that a printer utilizes a type of memory that can retain these settings when powered off or may require a small on board low voltage battery to power the memory chip even when the printer is turned off, thus retaining these settings.
Although an NVRAM initialization is sometimes used as troubleshooting method, it should only be used as a last resort and precautions must be taken before it is performed so that after reset, the original values and identifiers can be re-entered.
The easiest way to prepare for a NVRAM Initialization is to print a configuration page and a Usage Page so the information on these pages can be re-entered after the printer’s NVRAM is wiped.
How can NVRAM Reset Perform
The methods used to perform a NVRAM Initialization vary by model, series and generation of printers. Generally, access to the NVRAM Initialization functionality is accessed and performed by holding down a series of buttons during a printer’s startup process.
For instructions for your particular printer, refer to the index of the Service or Troubleshooting manual and look for NVRAM. HP’s newer lines of printers don’t include any mention of or method of performing NVRAM Initializations.
Cold Reset or NVRAM Initialization ?
You might be familiar with the Cold Reset function which can be considered an ‘NVRAM Initialization light’. The Cold Reset and NVRAM Initialization troubleshooting methods are very similar except where a NVRAM Initialization resets all control panel, Service Menu and network settings, a Cold Reset will only reset control panel and network settings.
When troubleshooting, a Cold Reset should always be attempted before an NVRAM Initialization. Because of the possibility of losing certain values and settings and afterward having to re-enter them all, a NVRAM initialization should always be a last ditch effort to correct an issue.
Reset NVRAM Conclusions
An evolution in NVRAM technology came about with the introduction of the floating-gate metal–oxide–semiconductor field-effect transistor (MOSFET), more on that in later articles.
These printer service suggestions are not a guaranteed cure, they can solve a many mysteries printer problems, and are worth the time it takes before moving on to parts swapping or calling tech support.
More HP LaserJet Printer Maintenance Resources
About Metrofuser NVRAM Reset Advisors
Metrofuser is a leading global innovator, manufacturer, and marketer of printer parts, equipment, diagnostics, repair information and systems solutions for professional users performing critical tasks. Products and services include remanufactured laser printer parts, remanufactured printers and service training for HP, Lexmark and Canon brands. The company's customers include office equipment dealerships, online retailers, repair centers and MPS service providers nationwide. Metrofuser has been named to Inc. Magazine’s fastest-growing companies five consecutive years. For more information, visit http://www.metrofuser.com.