These days the internet is everyone’s first port of call for most things.
If you need a killer recipe for lasagne, the BBC food website has it. If you are desperately trying to remember the name of that kid from Home Alone, IMDB can tell you. If your printer starts chewing paper and spitting it at you in a ball, the internet can probably tell you why.
But can you, or should you, always trust advice from the web?
Here at Inkredible, we thought that we would answer this tricky question by evaluating some of the DIY fix-it jobs that are out there.
We will start with the ridiculous. The bad, although hilarious, advice that is out there, presented as fact.
1. Hit/ kick/ punch it. We know that technology can be extremely frustrating sometimes. When it stops working and you don’t know why, wanting to smash it up is pretty much the go-to reaction. As a method of repair, this rarely works. Occasionally a well aimed blow might get your old TV working, but we would discourage beating on your printer as you are likely to do more harm than good.
2. Take it apart completely. Whilst getting screwdriver happy may seem like a great idea at the time, there is nothing worse than taking something to pieces, 'fixing' the problem, putting it back together and then looking at a small pile of parts or screws that you forgot to put back in. Unless you are a qualified printer repair person, maybe stay away from the tool kit. The chances are, you won't know exactly what the problem is and sticking a screwdriver into the machine may make it worse.
3. Pour water on an overheated printer. No, just no. If you need an explanation for why this is a bad idea, you should probably stop buying technology.
Now that we have established what NOT to do, we can move onto the slightly more sensible options.
If you are having printer trouble, try these options before taking it in for a potentially expensive repair. The following advice is much more reliable than that above!
1. Turn it off and on again. Although this is simple advice, it is good advice. Turning your printer off at the power supply will reset the printer if there is a system error.
2. Check the ink. Yes, we know it’s obvious but if your documents are coming our more grey than black, it may be something as simple as replacing the ink.
3. Open it up. Don't get a screwdriver involved, but just lift the lid. Open the cover of the printer to check for paper jams (your computer will probably alert you if this is the problem). Take care when doing this as the printer may be hot. Free any paper from the printer by moving the necessary levers. Then throw that paper away as it will probably cause another jam if you smooth it out and put it back in. If the paper isn't rolling through the printer properly, check the paper pickup roller. If it has worn itself shiny, there may not be enough friction to pick up the paper and it is time to replace it. If your printer keeps telling you it is out of paper, when there are still a few sheets left in the tray, test the levers your printer uses to sense paper by gently pressing down on them. Some printers may encounter problems if they are running low on paper, so keep your tray full.
4. Check you are running the latest software. Printers, like computers and smartphones may run into problems if there are not running the latest version of software. Check online to see if there are any updates for the driver or the software.
5. Call Us! Now we don't profess to be experts on every kind of printer out there but we have been around a while to pick up some little gems of information. We may just be able to talk you through any problems you are having and save you an expensive trip out for a new printer.
The internet can offer great advice, so do check online before you spend money on repairs. If you do decide to fix your printer yourself, be careful not to do any further damage as this may invalidate your warranty. Just remember, if it sounds like a bad idea, it probably is.