Best practice: Getting the most from your printer

Best practice: Getting the most from your printer

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.

Technical issues

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.

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Need a refund? No problemo

Need a refund? No problemo

Need a refund, huh? OK – straight to the back of the queue!

Nah – we're not like that at INKredible. While we make it our key priority to ensure all our products are shipped on time and in perfect working order, we know that on very rare occasions the odd one does slip through the net.

We want you to stay with us as customers – which is why excellent service, before and after purchase, is at the heart of all we do.

So here's a useful guide to what you can do if something's not quite right with your INKredible order.


Technical issue 

You hook up your new ink cartridge to your brand new printer, send a document to print and…there's a click, a funny whirr and a sort-of strange clacking sound. Apparently it's all a bit, well, broken. 

While your product might be faulty, don't rule out a technical issue. We'd encourage you first to take a look at our blog, FAQ and help sections. There's plenty of information on here covering a range of topics – from printer calibration to paper jams. 

It might be there's some useful bit of troubleshooting info on there that you can use to sort it all out and be back printing quality prints and documents in no time!

It really is faulty

OK, that odd whirr, annoying clack and funny click really do mean there's something wrong. 

No worries. Our super-friendly team (yep, even at 5pm on a Friday!) will be more than happy to assist you with any problems. Give them a bell on 0844 804 00 88 or fill out the online form here

They might be able to diagnose the problem. If not, they'll be happy to sort out a refund for you. Here's our ethos: If we can't identify of fix the problem you will be given the choice of a full refund or replacement goods. Can't say fairer than that. You won't pay an additional postage costs either. 

Change of heart 

Absolutely no problem. We often buy stuff we don't actually need (thinking of the toastie machine that's lying dormant in the INKredible kitchen). 

If you order the wrong product or change your mind and decide you don't want it, you're entitled to replacements or a refund to spend on more goodies.


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Printer security tips

Printer security tips

Think your printer isn't susceptible to security breaches? Think again, argues Tom Coley.

Printers aren't always the first device people think about when it comes to security protection – desktops, tablets and mobiles are more of a target, right?

Well, you'd be surprised, making it important that you take simple steps to protect the security of your printing set-up, whether you're a small business or a home user. 

We take a look through some of the possible threats and what you can do to combat the problem and protect your private data.

Possible threats

Did you know that your printer might, just like a computer, have a hard drive? Yep, it could, and it could have lots of sensitive information stored on it.

While it's unusual for a simple budget printer to have an internal storage system, it's possible that a sophisticated multifunction might – and here we have a potential security leak.

Last year, a news team in the US bought some used printers and reported all kinds of personal data stored on them.

The more advanced machines out there use internal hard drives to store data, meaning they could hold details of your print jobs, scans and faxes.

While this in itself might seem insignificant, if you throw out your printer, sell it or, unfortunately, it gets stolen, you could be unwittingly handing its new owner a wealth of personal information.

Now, if you're just printing out birthday invitations then you might not be too concerned, but what if you use your printer to produce your tax return, or write personal letters you wouldn't want anyone else to see?


In businesses, the problem can be exacerbated, especially if a company uses a network to host its bank of printers.

Here, if your network is left 'open', it could be open season for anyone wishing to gain access to your infrastructure. And if you've just been printing your annual accounts, that's unlikely to make you very happy.

There are other threats, too. The emergence of the cloud has given rise to a number of apps that allow users to send documents to print via the internet. While this is to be welcomed – it means you can print from more or less anywhere from a variety of devices –  it means your printer is accessible from the internet by, potentially, anyone.


So what can you do?

Because the issue of printer security is something of a neglected topic, it's not surprising many printer users simply don't think about the security of their device.

And if you don't print 'sensitive' documents, then you might not need to give it any more thought.

However, if you're interested in protecting your printer, take a look at the following tips:

First thing to do is find out if your printer actually has a hard drive. This can be a little like looking for a needle in a haystack though – the best way is to ask the printer maker. Failing that, your printer's manual might be able to tell you.

If it does, there are a number of things you can do to make your device secure. If the hard drive is removable, you can simply open up the printer and take it out. If selling the printer, you could simply destroy the hard drive.

Alternatively, and if you've got a bit of technical nous, you could connect the hard drive to a PC and remove any files. This is a good idea if you want to 'clean' your printer on a regular basis.

When it comes to networks, one simple way to protect these is to implement a password system. This would make your infrastructure much harder to crack.

Importantly, ensure you change the password on a regular basis – as you're supposed to with your email accounts. (No, we don't either...)

While it might seem like all this is a bit too much like hard work, if you print sensitive documents often it simply makes good sense to ensure the information is protected.


You don't want every man and his dog knowing about your private life - so why let them.


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Colour prints 'could boost student learning'

Colour prints 'could boost student learning'

OK, bit of an odd question to kick this one off. 

When you were at school, how many of the print-outs you used as part of your classroom were in colour? 

Told you it was bit of an odd one. 

We can't remember either to be honest – but we're asking because we stumbled across some new research that makes an interesting link between colour printing in schools and the attainment levels of students. 

However the study, commissioned by Xerox, found colour is surprisingly absent in classroom handouts.


Which certainly is surprising, given the mass take-up of printers and ink and toner cartridges by educational institutions, businesses and individuals around the world.

The study, undertaken by Harris Interactive for Xerox, found seven in ten pupils in grades three to 12 (it's a US study - we guestimate that it's from early middle school to end of sixth form), found seven in ten pupils said that very few or none of their handouts have pictures or charts or graphs that are produced in colour. 

But schools are missing a trick here – Xerox said that colour has been shown to have an impact on comprehension, something the students polled agreed with.

Most (77 per cent) said word or pictures in colour would make schoolwork more interesting, and 70 per cent said it would make their homework more fun to do. 

What's more, the students said they found colour materials especially effective when it comes to learning complex subjects – 58 per cent said they thought they would learn more in science if the accompanying materials were in colour. 

"With shrinking budgets, colour printing does not have to be cost prohibitive," said Leah Quesada, vice president, marketing, enterprise business group, Xerox.

"With the right tools in place, colour can be maximized in the classroom to the benefit of the students."  

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Cloud printing 'next big thing'

Google Cloud Print allows users to print from anywhere

Forget wireless printing. Forget 3D printing (oh, yes please). 

What's the latest thing you need to know about when it comes to printing? Printing in the cloud with Google, that's what.

Harnessing the power of cloud computing technology – the hosting of data on the internet – Google Cloud Print is being hailed as the next big thing. 


Well according to an article over at PC Advisor, it's easy to install, cost-effective and opens up a number of new printing possibilities.

How it works 

Google Cloud Print allows users to print anything (well, almost anything), from anywhere, and from any device. 

Connecting your printer to the web, Cloud Print allows you to send documents to print to any Google cloud-connected printer. 

What this means is that you don't have to be in the same room as your printer. You could be in another building altogether – even in another country. 

Working from smartphones, PCs, tablets and Chromebooks, Cloud Print means as long as you can connect to the web, you can print. 

Controlling everything from your Google account, users can send to print with a single click, and manage print jobs.


And why is it so good? 

Because it gives you greater freedom. According to PC Advisor, you can print from Chrome and a number of apps available on Android and iOS. It means you don't need to be sat at your desktop with your printer hooked up directly next to you. You can more or less print anything from anywhere.

"Take a photo on your phone and send it to print at home to show your partner where you are, for instance," the website suggests.

"Or if you are working on the way to the office, you can send amended files ahead and they'll be on the printer when you arrive."

Neat, huh?

Easy to set up? 

Easy peasy.  All you need is a printer and a Google account. A Google account is free, so if you aren't signed up yet it won't cost a penny. 

What's more, Google Cloud Print should work with any printer. So if you've an old HP inkjet stuck in the garage, it's likely it'll work.

However, PC Advisor points out that it is easier with a Google Cloud Print Ready device.

The machines are ready to go, and register themselves directly with the Google Cloud Print service over your home or office's wireless network.

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Everyone should do their bit for Green Office Week

Everyone should do their bit for Green Office Week

This week marks Green Office Week – a time when everyone should be doing their bit to ensure that their workplace is as eco friendly as possible.

According to Gregg Corbett, marketing director at Avery, the founder of Green Office Week, there is something that every member of staff can do to contribute, whether it is just thinking before they print or switching off their PC at the end of the day. "Empowering staff is the key when it comes to reducing energy usage.

Green Office Week has always been about championing a bottom-up approach, encouraging change amongst employees and office culture, using the week as a springboard to developing more sustainable working practices," he stated.

Mr Corbett went on to say that many office workers are keen to spearhead green office initiatives however don't because they do not want to be seen as nagging. 

"Small business owners must recognise that long-term sustainable change is a two way process, attained through creating a working culture that reflects this and openly values employees' contributions," Mr Corbett concluded, stating that business owners should speak to staff about the best ways to go green and seek their advice in making changes.

Green Office Week runs all week from today through to 18th May.  

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What are you doing for green office week?

What are you doing for green office week?

It's Green Office Week this month – what are you planning on doing for the event?

The gang here at INKredible are gearing up for the initiative, which kicks off on May 14th, already, you'll no doubt be excited to hear! 

The week, organised and founded by Avery, is all about encouraging offices to come up with some fun and interesting ideas to make their work spaces that little bit greener. 

The week is structured so that each day focuses on a specific environmental aspect: energy (Monday), transport (Tuesday), waste (Wednesday), purchasing (Thursday) and innovation (Friday).


The emphasis is on fun and simplicity – so there's no big complicated ideas involved. 

Avery thinks it's perfectly possible to make a big difference to the environment simply by making a few small, practical changes.


Here's what the INKredible team are planning on doing for Green Office Week: 

Monday (energy) – turn off those lights that don't get used 

Tuesday (transport) – cycle to work! 

Wednesday (waste) – well we already recycle all our office paper, so we're going to enable the standby mode on office equipment printers and photocopiers 

Thursday (purchasing) – send out some digital invoices 

Friday (innovation) – celebrate our Green Office Week with a trip to the pub (OK that's a joke, we will be doing something innovative, promise...)


What are your plans?

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Broken printer – fix it, or get a new one?

Broken printer – fix it, or get a new one?

If your printer breaks down, is it really worth repairing it, or should you just stump up the cash for a brand new machine? We take a look at your options.

Sometimes printers just break. While for the most part these problems can be easily remedied – it might be a paper jam, for example – there are some problems that will need to be properly fixed if your machine is to get up and running again.


A common problem – and one that often that requires proper repair – is when the printhead fails.

Your printer's head is crucial to its smooth running – it is, after all, the part of the printer that controls the amount of ink that is deposited onto the paper.


While you can expect a printhead to last for a couple of years, depending on how much you've paid for your printer, it's often the case that they break down. This can be for a number of reasons – blocked up by dried ink or overheating due to excessive printing, for instance.

This can have a significant effect on the quality of your prints – but should you invest in a new printhead, or just buy a new printer?

One big change in printing recently is that while the cost of OEM consumables has shot up, the price of printers has dropped. And not just a little, as you no doubt will have noticed – it's now perfectly possible to buy a decent printer for about £30.

We know why – it's because the printer makers make their money out of ink and toner cartridges, because these need to be replaced much more often.

If your printhead problem can't be easily solved, you might need to take it to a repair station to get it sorted by an expert. Depending on the scale of the job, this could cost you £50.


Is it really worth it, when you can pick up a whole new printer for less? Well, we reckon it depends on what you're looking for.

It might be the case that your printer does exactly what you want - in which case, why buy a new machine? It might not be fancy and sophisticated, but it does the job.


On the other hand, buying a more modern printer could be considered a sound investment, especially if you're serous about printing, a step up to a superior machine – on the cheap, too.

What do you think?

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Moving house or office? How to transport your printer

How to transport your printer

Moving house? Changing office? Here's a handy little guide to making sure your printer makes it with you in one piece.

When moving home or relocating the office, there's an awful lot of things to think about, so you'd be forgiven for taking your eye off the ball when it comes to taking care of your printer during the move.

But as us here at INKredible are printer, ink and toner mad, as you can guess we're dab hands at ensuring you transport your printer without a) spilling ink all over your clothes or b) reducing your top-of-the-range printer to a pile of plastic rubble.


If your journey to you new location is only going to be short, we reckon you only need a few bits and bobs to secure your printer.

A sturdy cardboard box, some gaffer tape and bubble wrap should be all you need. Pack your printer carefully in the box, wrap some bubble wrap securely around it and make sure there's plenty of tape to close up the box. Oh, and write 'printer' on the box in large letters.

However, if you're transporting your printer down a flight of stairs or it's going in the back of a removal van you might need to step up your game a little bit.

In which case, it might be necessary to disassemble your machine into its various smaller parts. A good idea is to have a look at the manufacturers' guidelines – these will tell you about any particularly fragile bits of your machine you need to take care of.

Also, be aware, particularly with inkjets, that they're liable to spill if put in an odd position or left at a funny angle. You don't want to be carting your machine down the steps to find ink all over your clothes or carpet, so consider putting some newspaper down and wearing your Sunday clothes.

And if you've got a wait before you move into your new place or premises proper, consider putting your printer somewhere safe for the interim period, such as self storage.

While some of these tips may seem a little over-cautious, it's a good idea to take care of your machine. A little bit of preparation will mean your printer is good to go as soon as you pitch up at your new gaff.

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