Solving Zombie Printer Firmware Problems- HP Laser Printer Firmware Updating and Troubleshooting

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Agenda

  • Welcome

  • Overview

  • Demo 1,2,3

  • Q & A

  • Wrap Up

 

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Transcript

Hello and Welcome to Metrofuser's webinar. This is Will Demuth Chief operating officer at Metrofuser I will be hosting today.

 

The metrofuser webinars series are complimentary technical education that is designed to keep you informed of industry challenges and changes. We do that by bringing you industry thought leaders to discuss topics and strategies.

 

If desired, we would like to be a resource for you regarding today's material as well as general printer technical support.

 

Today's webinar will be recorded and will be available in 24 hours. I am excited to introduce today's speaker Mark Makuch. I have worked with him for over 20 years since our early days at Depot. 

 

He is a subject matter expert on HP laser printers, and reverse engineering. Again I encourage everyone to submit their Question and we will address them at the end at the Q/A portion of the webinar.  

 

Today's Topic is Solving Zombie Printer Firmware Problems.

 I will turn it over to Mark. 

Hi everyone - OK, so firmware is the code inside your printer that enables it to start up, print jobs and interface with the user. It is typically updated twice a year to address security issues, implement new features and fix bugs. Sometimes however, these updates will introduce new bugs, deactivate functionalities and open new security loopholes. Generally, you want to be running the most current version of a printer’s firmware.

Some people say if it ain’t broken, don’t fix it (ie don’t upgrade your printer’s firmware if there is currently nothing wrong with it) but some people like to be on the bleeding edge, with the latest and greatest (whether it be the newest iPhone or the newest update to Windows 10, and say heck yes I’m going to upgrade even if my printer doesn’t really need it). Probably the best thing to do when a new version of firmware is released is to be aware when it has been released, but to wait a period of a few weeks or even months and monitor online discussions/forums and talk to other technicians to see if any others are having problems with this new version of firmware. 

If you find that no negative issues have been reported, then it is probably safe to go ahead and install it. If you hear that people, other techs are experiencing and reporting undesirable issues, then don’t install it and maybe wait a few more months for the next version. Do your homework, because in most cases, once you upgrade, you cannot revert to previous versions.

Firmware is generally not something to get excited about – it is just there in your printer, working invisibly behind the scenes and you shouldn’t even know that it is there – it should just work and allow your printer to function as expected. Aside from its user interface, it works mostly in the background. Most people, for the life of their printer, don’t even know what is or that the option to update it even exists.

So what does firmware do ? Firmware is basically your printer’s operating systems like Windows is the operating system for most computers. It enables your printer to communicate with other devices. It enables your printer to fax and scan, copy, connect, process and print jobs. It allows for your printer to be secure and protected from network threats. It enables you to interact with your printer either from the control panel or from a connected PC or other device.

In some cases, a printer’s firmware is stored on its formatter board. This can be problematic because if the firmware goes bad/gets corrupted, the entire formatter would need to be replaced.

**In other cases, a printer’s firmware is stored on a removable module like a compact flash card, SSD, eMMC card, or a hard drive. This is the most desirable scenario, because in these cases, if the firmware goes bad/gets corrupted, it can either be wiped and reinstalled or the removable module can just be removed and replaced.

Ithink the obvious question is  - So how would you know if your  HP printer’s firmware needs to be updated? You can run a configuration page from your printer. The firmware version and date code will be one of the first items listed, then check HP’s Drivers and Downloads site to see if a newer version is available. If your having printing problems and are wondering if you might need to update your firmware, some of the most common indicators that you might need to update are error codes 49.xx.xx or 99.xx.xx, slow printing or excessive pausing during print jobs, garbage characters printed instead of the job you sent, toner rubbing off the page or print mode/fuser mode issues, ‘Insufficient Memory’ errors, ‘Expected Drive Missing’  errors to name just a few. Generally speaking, if you’re experiencing an issue that the service manual doesn’t address, it’s always a good idea to update your firmware to see if that resolves it. - You will not have been the only person to have experienced the issue you are having and it may have already been resolved by a recent firmware upgrade.

Depending on the vintage of your HP printer, the method of updating its firmware varies. Printer models made prior to 2012 require a computer connection to update the firmware. Printer models made after 2012 utilize a - simplified method that uses a thumb drive rather than requiring a connection to a PC. Let’s take a look at three of the most common methods used to update firmware on both some older and newer printers. For these examples, we’ll be using a LaserJet M605, M3035, and M605.

Demo of Firmware updates

 

Thank you Mark we will move to Q/A portion but first we would like to quickly talk about how a metrofuser can assist on this topic. 

  • The first line of assistance is our One on One Product Experts. These folks have 10-15 years of industry experience. Contact me if you would like me to connect you with one of our product experts.

  • Metrofuser hosts over 7000 online assets available 24 hours a day located at Laserprinthelp.net and Metrofuser.com. There will be links on the dashboard of this webinar to quickly access the relevant content.

  • We also offer Instructor led, hands on training in NJ and CA as  as onsite at your location. 

  • Finally technical support by phone for both active customers and pay per call.

We will use the remainder of our time to Q/A

First question is:

  1. How would I know when new firmware is made available for my HP printer ? Visit HP.com. Click on ‘support’ then click ‘Download Drivers’. Click the PRINTER icon then enter your model number.  This will take you to the download page.

  2. What should I do if my HP printer’s firmware is no longer updated by HP? Just because HP is no longer supporting your printer or it has been END OF LIFED, doesn’t mean you can’t or shouldn’t use it anymore. It will still continue to work just as it always has. There just won’t be any further firmware updates. By the time a printer has been End Of Lifed, all the bugs and issues will likely have been worked out and resolved through earlier firmware versions so you should be fine.

  3. I tried updating my firmware but it isn’t working for some reason.  Download the README.pdf file from the same page you downloaded the firmware. In it, HP details several different methods you can use to update your firmware. There will always be a README file that can help. There will be lots of information in that readme about specific changes that have been made - bug fixes, new features and new security protocols, different methods/procedures you can use to update the firmware, it’s a wealth of information regarding firmware for your printer model.

  4. What are limitations of Network operating systems on Firmware performance? Some firmware bugs will only apply to certain operating systems. You might have a print job that prints normally from Windows, but if printed from a linux workstation, it might not print properly. This is a common type of issue that is often corrected through firmware updates.

  5. What resources do you use for updating firmware ? Some things you’ll need are access the - DRIVERS AND DOWNLOADS section of HP’s web site. Tech support forums are always helpful and we’ll list a few of the good ones in the comments here. You might need a thumbdrive for some model printers and service manuals for your model printer are a great idea to have on hand.

  6. How long do OEM support firmware? Generally, enterprise models get firmware updates for about 8-10 years. The Pro series, which is the consumer and small or home office line, generally gets firmware updates for 5-6 years.

  7. When should you not update firmware? Some customers/companies/organizations, for security purposes prohibit any firmware updates or require that their IT staff install them. So always get permission if you’re on site before you update any firmware.

  8. Are there Firmware updates developed geographically or country specific ? Having only ever downloaded and installed firmware here in the US, i am not aware of any regional variances of firmware.

  9. What role does network security play on firmware updates? Network security is one of the pillars of firmware and its many updates. Keeping your printer from being an open security risk on your network is super important. Again, i’m not an IT guy or security expert, but for sure, many of the changes implemented in firmware updates are to close security loopholes and squash network security bugs. Also, firmware updates use CODE SIGNING VERIFICATION (which ensures that they are genuine HP) - that keeps rogue or malicious actors from - surreptitiously installing/modifying firmware remotely.

  10. How can you work around tight security? You shouldn’t be working around tight security to update firmware. Like I said earlier, firmware updates are taken very seriously at some organizations and if that’s the case, you need to consult with the IT staff/admins and either get permission to update firmware or make your case as to why it needs to be done or request that they do it.

  11. What questions should we ask before updating firmware? I’d ask myself if it’s necessary in this case. You might need to ask permission to update. Have i read the readme file and do i fully understand the process before i start it. I’d also make sure, if i’m updating firmware from a laptop, that my battery is full so that it doesn’t die mid way through the process. That can be catastrophic to the printer. 

  12. Whats are the unintended consequence of updating firmware and how to solve ? The worst thing that might happen is that a new bug could be introduced that might not get resolved for another six months until the next version is released. 

  13. Talk about our library of firmware -  Back in 2010, metrofuser realized that there was - great value in maintaining a library, an archive of firmware versions for various reasons. Before code signing verification, many customers desired a particular version of firmware that was no longer available for download from HP. Whether it was because a feature was removed, a bug had been introduced, or compatibility with a particular software was ended, our customers required a certain version of firmware for their printer. With this library/archive, we could always provide this to them. Metrofuser also devised a way to store and burn firmware on demand for various printer models whose firmware was stored on compact flash cards or SOLID STATE DRIVES. This made firmware updating insanely easier to those who weren’t comfortable performing the updates themselves. We know our firmware and we know our customers needs, so it just made a lot of sense.

  14. How do you roll back firmware? You can’t. For your printer’s security and network’s protection, you can’t  roll back firmware versions. HP now uses CODE SIGNING VERIFICATION. This guarantees that the firmware you are installing/updating is genuine/authentic HP coding and not from another possibly malicious source. A feature of CODE SIGNING VERIFICATION is that once installed/updated, it cannot be rolled back to an earlier version.

  15. Should you Turn Off Firmware Updates on Your Printer ? um, Well, you decide. Some printers allow for automatic background firmware updating. There are advantages and disadvantages of updating your firmware as we’ve discussed here today. Hopefully, we’ve given you all the info you need to make this decision for yourself. BUT, for most people, i’d say yes, enable automatic firmware updating if your printer supports it.


 

Thank you everyone for viewing. We hope we removed some of the mystery behind firmware.

Speakers

 

 

 

 

 

Will DeMuth- Product Marketing

Ext 107 wd@metrofuser.com

Will contributed significantly to the burgeoning revenue growth to Depot America experienced from 1999-2003. He did so by providing essential marketing communications and product development leadership. During his time there, the company's revenue grew from $14m to $40m dollars. Since the late nineties, Will has brought innovation and leadership to the industry.


 

Mark Makuch- Operations Manager Ext 105 mm@metrofuser.com Mark brings 31 years of industry experience as a Senior New Products Engineer. Mark started in this industry as a printhead technician and advanced to complex component level repair and later process engineering. Mark holds numerous certifications from various OEMs.

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HP Laser Printer Firmware Updating and Troubleshooting webinar