Printers - they cost a ruddy arm and a leg, don't they? All the more reason to keep them in tip-top shape then! While it might be easy to simply place your printer on the desktop and leave it untouched, a little best practice and TLC can make your printer last well into its old age, says Tom Coley.
General care and maintenance
While there are some online guides that suggest you should be as fastidious when it comes to cleaning your printer as when you brush your teeth, at INKredible we're not so demanding.
We recognise that you can't be cleaning your device every five minutes - which is why a little regular care to keep things nicely ticking over is more important than any kind of obsessive maintenance.
A good marker is to give your printer a once-over every month or so. Just a general inspection and a spring clean.
Get hold of some proper printer cleaner or even a printer cleaning kit. While it might be tempting just to stick some washing up liquid in a bucket and use a cloth, a little investment in a proper cleaning product is a good idea. And if you use it sparingly, it should last ages.
Stick some printer solution on a cloth and wipe the outside of your printer – and remember to always turn your printer off at the mains before you clean it or look inside it.
Perform a simple maintenance check by opening the hood and checking all the inside parts are looking OK. You can also clean these parts too – we recommend consulting the printer manufacturer's guidelines for how best to clean its inner parts though.
And when your printer isn't in use, there's lots of printer covers you can buy to keep your machine snug as a bug!
Getting what you want from your printer – prints and photos
Right – on to the business end of things. Making sure your printer is printing as effectively as possible.
You'd be surprised how a little tinkering can help you really improve your prints.
Optimising for photo printing
How to make your photo prints better? It's really not that difficult – you've got nearly all you need at your fingertips.
While it's easy just to bring up a photo and send it to print on default settings, there are a number of adjustments you can make to your printer's settings that can really help.
Access the settings panel and take a look at things like quality, resolution, format, size, and colour and see how they affect your print-outs – maybe even print a few sample pages to compare differences.
As an example – take a look at the different printing modes you can use. For standard mono prints you're best off with 'draft' or 'standard' mode (its name depending on printer but you get the gist). But by switching to 'best' or 'optimum' you'll notice a big difference.
And you needn't use up loads of unnecessary ink. When it comes to printing something standard, switch back to draft mode and you'll recoup a bit of ink.
We also have a range of guides on printer and monitor calibration we think you'll find useful – why not check them out.
Sadly, printers occasionally break down or decide to stop working randomly. But before you pick up your printer and throw it through the nearest window, hang on a sec – you will probably find the problem is entirely fixable.
Take a look at our dedicated set of support topics – we're pretty sure you'll find a guide that'll troubleshoot your problem.
Software updates and online support
Keep an eye out on your printer manufacturer's website for any important updates that are released.
One of the most important are printer drivers, which help your computer communicate with your printer – so they're really key when it comes to photo printing. These are released fairly regularly, so be sure to check now and again. You'll find driver updates really do improve the productivity of your printer in the long run.