How to Troubleshoot a Dell Printer

By Christopher Capelle

  • Overview

    Dell, a Texas-based manufacturer of computers and printers, has rightfully earned a place in the upper echelon of tech companies. While its line of printers have consistently been top-ranked by users and critics alike, there are always problems with printers, whether it's the fault of the hardware itself, the user or "just one of those things." No matter what type of computer you're using, there are several steps to troubleshoot a bothersome Dell printer.
    How to Troubleshoot a Dell Printer
    • Step 1

      Check the obvious. Make sure the printer is powered on, that the cables connecting the printer to the computer or network are seated firmly and properly, and that the ink carts are installed. If it's a shared printer, confirm that the host computer is on and is accessible via the network.
      Make sure the USB cable works.
    • Step 2

      Switch things around. To see if the USB cable is the culprit, try using a different cable, then try attaching the printer to a different port on the computer or a different computer altogether.


    • Step 3

      Open the print queue. Make sure there isn't one document that is clogging up the pipeline. A document printed on A4 paper, for example, won't print on a printer that is solely configured for 8.5-by-11 inch paper. Delete any offending print jobs from the queue to see if that clears up the bottleneck.
      A jammed print queue.
    • Step 4

      Run the Dell Printer diagnostic software to check the ink level, nozzles and print head alignment.
    • Step 5

      Physically check out the printer to see if there are any paper jams, foreign objects or broken parts. If the paper isn't feeding correctly, clean the rollers using a cotton swab and rubbing alcohol.
      A cotton swab is good for cleaning the inside of your printer.
    • Step 6

      Delete the printer from the computer and reinstall the drivers. For Windows users, open the Control Panel and select "Printers." Highlight the Dell printer, right-click and select "Delete." Mac users can delete the printer by opening System Preferences, selecting "Print & Fax," selecting the Dell printer and clicking the minus ("-") icon at the bottom of the window. Use the original CD to install the drivers or download them from Dell's website (see Resources below).
      Dell's Website
    • Step 7

      Try new ink cartridges. Make sure there isn't a dried up crust of ink clogging the print heads.
      Beware of leaky ink cartridges.
    • Skill: Moderately Easy
    • Ingredients:
    • USB cable
    • Printer drivers
    • Second computer
    • Replacement ink cartridges
    • Cotton swabs
    • Rubbing alcohol
    • Tip: Use the recommended type of paper for each type of printing job.
    • Tip: A direct connection to the PC itself is a better idea than through a USB hub.
    • Warning:
    • Don't let your printer sit idle for more than a week, as dried ink carts can virtually ruin a printer.
    • Today's printers are extremely inexpensive, so if things go bad, think twice about putting any money into repairing it.
    • Buying a serial to USB adapter is also putting more money into outdated technology; so if your computer doesn't have a USB port, again decide if spending that money is worth it.
    • Never use third party or reconditioned ink cartridges.

    © High Speed Ventures 2011