Technology is supposed to make life easier—which makes it that much more of a headache when it doesn’t work.
How wireless printers work
Wireless printers work in one of three modes: Ad hoc, wireless direct, and infrastructure. Ad hoc is the simplest of these; your computer or wireless device connects directly to your printer. Connectivity problems are relatively rare in this mode and typically straightforward to fix.
Wireless direct, an innovative technology that’s gradually becoming a standard wireless printer feature, makes it simpler than ever to print from any device without connecting via a router or cloud-based application. Just connect your devices to the network in the same way you would when joining a new Wi-Fi network with your computer, phone, or tablet, and you’re good to go.
Infrastructure mode remains the most common means for wireless printer networking. Infrastructure mode connects your computer, wireless devices and printer to the network via the same wireless access point, usually in a router. Here, you’re much more likely to run into connectivity problems.
The first step in troubleshooting wireless printer connectivity (beyond making sure your printer’s plugged into a power source, of course) is to ensure that your printer and the devices you want to print from are all using the same, correct information to connect to your network.
This means checking that they’re all using the correct SSID—in other words, that they’re connected to the same network (i.e., yours, rather than your neighbor’s). You’ll also need to make sure your printer and devices are all using the correct network password and are set to use the same security protocol (WEP, WPA, or WPA2).
You should also check that your devices can recognize one another on the network. Typically, your router will recognize the printer and other devices connected to your network via automatically assigned IP addresses using a protocol called DHCP. If you turn off DHCP andassign a static IP address to your printer (which some experts recommend), you’ll need to ensure that the manually entered IP address is correct in all devices connected to the network. In the same way, if you’ve set up your network to connect devices with specific MAC addresses, you’ll need to ensure that those have been entered correctly.
To check that the device you’re printing from is on the same network as your printer, type your printer’s IP address into the address box of your web browser. If the browser brings up your printer’s home page, or embedded web server (EWS), you can be sure they’re connected.
Beyond the basics
There are a number of other, less common issues that can prevent connection with your wireless printer. For example, if you use a virtual private network (VPN) to connect to another network remotely, you’ll need to disable VPN to connect to your wireless printer.
In addition, firewall software on the device you’re printing from can block access to other devices on your network. In most cases, you’ll be able to reconfigure your firewall settings to allow access to your printer from the device.
You may also have trouble connecting with your wireless printer due to interference from household appliances like microwave ovens or cordless phones. Connectivity can also be a problem if your devices are located at too great a distance from the router, in which case you may need a wireless extender.
Finally, it may just be that your router has gotten stuck in an inoperable state. You can reboot it by unplugging, waiting 30 seconds, then powering back up.
The bottom line? With a little savvy, you can spend more time running your business, and less time dealing with wireless printer hassles. Happy printing!