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How to Keep Your Printer Working Longer

Person interacting with the HP Envy 6055e home printer
Corbin Davenport / Review Geek

It’s easy to tell when your printer is reaching the end of its life. From poor print quality and paper jams to slow print times and weird noises. There are lots of clues that your device might not live to print another day. However, many people don’t realize they can prevent their printer from meeting an early demise.

While no device lasts forever, you can take steps to extend the life of your printer. From making simple changes to how you print to performing routine maintenance (yes, it’s important), we’re highlighting the best ways to keep your printer working longer.

How Long Do Printers Generally Last?

As we start talking about extending your printer’s lifespan, you’re probably wondering how long you can reasonably expect yours to last. The average printer will last three to five years, depending on the make and model of the device.

Additionally, how long your printer lasts depends on factors like how often you use it, how you print, and whether you perform routine maintenance.

How Can You Make Your Printer Last Longer?

Ink cartridges in the HP Envy 6055e home printer-3
Corbin Davenport / Review Geek

Now we dive into the heart of the matter: tips for increasing the longevity of your printer. Some of them are actions you can do every time you print to help your device last longer, while other tips relate to things you should do every week or month.

  • Invest in ink and paper: You might think you’re saving by scrimping on these printing essentials. However, the short-term savings aren’t worth the damage that cheap paper and off-brand ink can do to your printer. As a result, we recommend spending a bit more on paper and sticking with branded or approved ink cartridges.
  • Replace your ink before the cartridges dry up: Speaking of ink cartridges, it’s wise to replace them around the time you get the low ink or low toner warning. This warning typically appears when there’s around 20% left. You might think you still have plenty of ink because your prints don’t look faded. Don’t be fooled though. Dried-out cartridges can cause unnecessary wear and tear on your printer.
  • Exercise care when replacing ink cartridges: How you replace your ink cartridges is just as important as when you do it. Before replacing one or more cartridges, read your manual. It might not be the most exciting reading material, but it contains the information you need to replace ink cartridges without harming your machine. Additionally, you’ll want to avoid touching the bottom of your ink cartridge. Fingers in this area can harm both your printer and print quality.
  • Know how to use your printer: Reading your printer’s manual isn’t just important when it comes to replacing ink cartridges. It’s also a great way to ensure you know how to properly use your device without wearing it out before it’s time. For example, if you don’t understand your printer’s settings, you might end up printing the same document several times to get it right. If this is something you routinely do, you can needlessly wear out your printer.
  • Keep the manual feed tray closed: This piece of advice doesn’t apply to every printer, but it’s helpful for the ones that have a manual feed tray. When you aren’t using this tray, be sure to fold it into the printer. It might be annoying to do this every time, but it’s less annoying than dealing with printer damage when the tray gets bumped or broken.
  • Clean your printer regularly: Did you know you should be cleaning your printer? You’re not alone if you didn’t realize this. Thankfully, there’s no better time to start. Wipe down your printer once a week and clean the interior every month. Because each printer has different cleaning recommendations, we recommend consulting your printer’s manual for specific guidance.
  • Keep your printer in standby mode: You probably know that you shouldn’t switch your printer off and on every time you use it. However, you also shouldn’t always leave it on. What’s the solution? Standby mode. This mode helps prevent your printer from heating up when it doesn’t need to and allows it to rest when it’s not in use.

What to Look For in a New Printer?

Indicator lights on the HP Sprocket Studio Plus 4x6 Photo Printer
Jason Montoya / Review Geek

Now that you have some tips and tricks to make your printer last longer, you can expect to extend the time between printer replacements. At some point, you will need to buy a new printer though because even proper use and maintenance can’t make a printer immortal.

To help you select a new printer that will keep you happy for years to come, here are some considerations to keep in mind while printer shopping.

  • Consider whether you want an inkjet or laser printer: We could go into a lot of detail here, but laser printers are better for text and documents, while inkjet printers are better for photos.
  • Think about whether you need a multifunction printer (MFP), or all-in-one: If you need to do more than print, you might want to consider a printer that can also scan, copy, and fax
  • Make sure you know the lingo: It can be overwhelming to shop for a printer when you don’t understand the terminology, but we have a quick overview to help. PPM means pages per minute, DPI stands for dots per inch, and duty cycle refers to how many pages a printer can print per month.
  • Explore your connectivity options: The days of having to be tethered to your printer are over, thanks to options like Wi-Fi and cloud printing. You’ll want to take advantage of this flexibility, so look for printers that offer the connectivity options that work for you.
  • Take into account ink and paper costs: It’s easy to just think about the cost of the printer when you’re shopping for a new machine. However, don’t forget to price the ink and paper that a device requires. Many people make this mistake and end up with a printer that has expensive tastes.
  • Consider whether you print different-sized documents: Most people just need to print standard 8.5″ x 11″ documents, but you might have other printing needs. If you do, make sure the printer you’re considering can handle different paper sizes.

After thinking about these considerations, you can check out some great picks for printers to find one you’ll love for years to come.

The Best Printers of 2023

HP ENVY 6455e
Best Printer Overall
HP ENVY 6455e
Epson Expression Home XP-4100
Best Budget Printer
Epson Expression Home XP-4100
HP Color LaserJet Pro Multifunction M479fdn
Best Home Office Printer
HP Color LaserJet Pro Multifunction M479fdn
Epson Expression Photo XP-970
Best Photo Printer
Epson Expression Photo XP-970
Canon Pixma TR150
Best Portable Printer
Canon Pixma TR150
Canon Maxify GX6021
Best Ink Tank Printer
Canon Maxify GX6021
Shannon Flynn Shannon Flynn
Shannon Flynn is a freelance writer for Review Geek. This attorney turned writer has been creating content ranging from blogs to eBooks for nearly a decade. She has written on topics in several industries, including healthcare, retail, and law. However, she has a special interest in writing about tech products, including smart home devices, e-readers, Apple products, and Nintendo gaming. She also has a passion for trying out different apps and all things LEGO. Read Full Bio »