What is a printer firmware update?

Firmware updates could make it impossible for you to print

with compatible printer cartridges that are cheaper.

Here are the steps to keep printing.


The company that makes your printer really wants you to buy their ink.

Most of the time, selling cartridges makes more money

than selling printers, and putting out firmware updates

is one way to force you to buy their cartridges.


Manufacturers might do this by sending out an update

that stops compatible cartridges from working in your printer

for a short time.


Once it's set up, your printer will only work with cartridges

made by the manufacturer until a firmware fix lets you use

compatible cartridges.


With these strategies, printer manufacturers may be able to completely

control how you print, at least for a while.


In this guide, we'll show you how some firmware updates can change

your ability to print.


We'll also show you how to stop firmware updates from taking control of your printer

so you can keep using compatible cartridges

that are cheaper and save you money.



What exactly is a firmware update?

A firmware update is a piece of software that changes how your printer works.

Firmware updates are sometimes released by printer manufacturers,

usually every few months.

You can choose whether or not to get a

firmware update.


Firmware updates can be downloaded manually from your printer's screen,

or if you set your printer to automatically update,

updates will be downloaded to your printer

as soon as they are ready.


Some firmware updates might make it hard to use low-cost compatible cartridges.

Most updates don't block compatible cartridges,

but the ones that do can happen at any time

and can stop your printer from working

right away.

Photo of an Epson printer beside a computer monitor



How do firmware updates stop compatible cartridges

from working?

For a print job to happen, your printer and cartridges need to talk to each other.

When a printer maker releases an update to the firmware that doesn't work

with a certain set of compatible cartridges,

that line of communication is broken.


The printer stops working because the new firmware can't talk to the cartridges.

When this happens, most people will see a message saying "cartridge problem"

on their screen.


This means that their printer no longer recognizes the compatible cartridges.


Since the 1980s, printer manufacturers have been putting out firmware updates

that break compatible cartridges.

As a result, smart printer owners who like to save money

are sometimes punished.


In 2016, an update to HP's firmware stopped thousands of printers

from working overnight.


Soon after, there was a lot of backlash from the public and bad press,

which led to a class action lawsuit that HP settled

for $1.5 million.


In April 2019, HP put out a firmware update that affected a different series

of popular cartridges and the printers that use them.

This was a surprise for people who used

low-cost compatible cartridges.


These tricks may not go away any time soon, which is a shame.

If you want to keep printing with cheap compatibles,

you may need to find a way to keep your printer

from getting updated in the future.



How to stop firmware updates

from blocking compatible printer ink

You should be able to choose what to put in your printer

without having to worry about firmware

that will mess things up.


You can keep printing and save money

with compatible cartridges if you follow

these two easy steps.


1. The best solution is to stop your device

from updating the firmware automatically.

If you quickly change a setting on your printer,

you can print whenever you want with cartridges

that work with it.


This is the best way to keep your printer from stopping

when a firmware update comes out,

and it works for almost every popular printer brand.


All you have to do is turn off your printer's settings for automatic firmware updates.

After you turn these settings off, your printer will no longer automatically

download firmware updates.


This gives you full control over

what you install.


2. Second best thing: Wait for new printer cartridges

Another option is to put in new cartridges that are compatible

and then skip the firmware update.


If you can't turn off firmware updates or were caught off guard

by a recent update and can't print, you'll have to wait

for an updated version of your compatible cartridges

before you can print with them again.


This isn't the best option for people who need to print right away,

which is why they might want to turn off all updates,

but it is still a good solution.


If an update affects an InkJets.com customer, they can send back their old cartridges,

and we'll send them a new set for free when they're ready.


It does take time to make new cartridges that work with your printer,

but once you have them, you can start printing again right away.




Disruptive firmware will keep trying to stop compatible cartridges from working,

but now that you know how to deal with these updates, you can stay one step ahead

of your printer manufacturer and keep saving

with your favorite compatible cartridges.


The more people learn about these annoying firmware updates and turn them off,

the more pressure is put on printer makers to make a change for the better.