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Monday, September 10, 2001

Prefer separate colour cartridges
Vipul Verma

PRINTERS today are the basic computer accessory and also a great tool in the hands of computer users. However, this is also one of the most ignored computer accessory. Its care should begin right since the time you buy it.

Before purchasing a printer, you must understand and learn a few things properly. If you have already bought it, then you can visit the company’s authorised dealer for understanding the finer points like pulling out jammed paper, replacing cartridge and servicing the printer head. Normally, neither the dealer bothers to demonstrate these points nor are the buyer’s keen to learn it.

For proper working of your printer these are a few basic points. Normally, there is a technique for pulling out jammed paper, which may not involve a lot of effort. However, if it is being pulled out the normal way, that is as we normally do by applying good amount of force, it surely damages the printer. There is no printer that can guarantee ‘no jamming’ of paper. Despite this fact there are techniques to pull the jammed paper, which a user must learn first. Similarly changing the print cartridge and servicing it is also a critical task, which should be performed either after reading the manual clearly or after seeing the demonstration from authorised persons.


Wrong handling of cartridge either while replacing or servicing could render the printer useless. Also, one must understand all controls and indicators of the computer, which are quite often ignored by the users.

Another important thing in effective use of printer is the proper cable connection. These days’ printers are available with the USB port option. You should prefer a printer with USB port and try and use it there. USB ports are more effective and fast for flawless printing. Nevertheless, if you use the parallel port for connecting printer to your computer, then you must make sure that your cable is in good condition.

Old and worn out cables can often create problem and thus may affect the efficiency of your printer. Sometimes older cables can cause poor-quality output, freezes, and other problems because they are not built to handle today’s data throughput (the number of useful data bits transmitted each second). To get the most out of your new printer, make sure you buy a bi-directional cable that is compliant with IEEE 1284 standards.

Another factors critical for the proper running of the printer is the heat, light, dust and humidity. All these are the worst enemy of your PC. Higher temperature can cause your Ink cartridge to leak, which in turn may lead to several other problems like clogging of your printer etc. Similarly light or direct sunlight, which is a source of heat, can cause similar damages. Humidity and dust can also bring down the level of performance of your printer.

So, for ideal working condition, protect your printer from these factors. Moreover, you should also take care, while storing your cartridge, as you should store the cartridges horizontal, not vertical, in a temperature range between 32 and 95 degrees Fahrenheit. Otherwise, you risk toner clumping.

Ink cartridges play a major role, as it is the only consumable in your printer. Avoid buying a PC, which has a composite ink cartridge for CMY i.e. cyan, magenta, yellow. As these cartridges have small ink tanks for each colour, and besides being costly because of less quantity and size, they also involve a lot of wastage, as you might be having good amount of Cyan ink, but if you run out of yellow, then you will have to change the whole cartridge and the remaining ink i.e. Cyan and magenta would go waste. Preferably look for an inkjet with separate colour cartridges so you don’t have to throw out the entire cartridge just because you’ve run out of one colour. However, if you already have a printer with composite colour cartridge, then make sure that you store it in a cool and dry place, when not in use and in an air-tight container. Normally Cannon printers come with an airtight container for storing the ink cartridge, which is available in the market also. Storing your cartridge will not only ensure smooth running of your cartridge but will also ensure long life of the same.

Another important factor for the printer is to save it from dust. This requires keeping it covered with non-static covers, when it is not in use. The covers save it from dust, cat hair etc. and keeps the printer clean for longer life and more efficiency. And do not blow the air using a blower. By blowing air in the printer you risk blasting dirt and dust back into the printer. For better results, buy a small portable vacuum that you also can use on the keyboard. Also check your manual for instructions on cleaning your printer.

For better results of your printer, upgrade your driver with a new one as using the latest driver would yield better results. You can check out the latest drivers at the manufacturer’s Web site. Normally the manufacturers upgrade their drivers for the problems discovered over a period of time and it really enhances the worth of the printer. It is not only essential to keep your printer well physically, but it is also equally essential to use it judiciously and for using the printer optimally, understand the various methods of printing like printing in draft, normal and best mode. Generally, under the default setting, your printer would print under the normal mode, which uses ink lesser than the best mode but more than the draft mode.

For long life of your cartridge, use the draft mode for all printing jobs, which are not very important. This will not only ensure long running life of the ink cartridge due to less use, but also faster printouts. Also make sure that in the paper tray, papers are not filled to the brim. Avoid adjusting the paper guides too snugly as it can cause paper jams.

Another critical factor for efficient use of your printer is to keep your RAM clear. If you are going to print a large amount of data or something, which involves more graphics, it is better to reboot your system before you give print command. This tip may prove specifically useful with old printers as they come with small memory. This will ensure uninterrupted printing. However, for those with latest computer and latest printers, it is not very necessary as the new printers come with higher memory. Nevertheless, rebooting always helps. You can add more efficiency to your printer by using some third party software like Fine Print. You can use this software for printing drafts, which can be squeezed on one, two or four pages depending upon your need. This not only saves paper but also precious printer ink and toner. Another solution is ForeFront’s ClickBook, which handles double-sided printing.

Last but not the least, you can add further efficiency by adjusting the printer timeout period. Normally in Windows, if the printer is out of paper, or it is not turned on, or is simply warming up then a message appears, which reads something like "Windows will Retry in 5 seconds". This is the timeout period. In order to adjust it as per your specification, just double-click on the Printers icon in Control Panel, and then click on the details tab. You will find that the timeout for "not ready" is called Not Selected here. Now set the value as per your specifications and close the control panel. This way you can adjust the timeout for the printer.