You just got yourself a new device and the printer cannot be installed and the error message is driving you crazy? There are a number of possible reasons why a printer cannot be installed, such as an unknown printer driver, cables, settings or the USB port used.

The good news is: Only in the rarest of cases is there a hardware problem that would require a complaint about your new laser printer or inkjet printer. We’d like to help you with our 13 tips to find and fix the causes of your printer problem. Usually the problem can be solved quickly with a manual installation if the printer installation does not work with Plug & Play.

Tip 1: Is your printer even connected to the computer?

This question sounds a bit banal, but many users get so excited when setting up new devices that they forget about things like the cable connection: First, you should check that the printer cable or USB cable is properly connected and that you are at activated the WLAN module on your computer with a wireless connection so that a connection to the network can be established. If you would like to use your new printer wirelessly in the network, please note that some printers must first be connected with a cable to set up, which you can remove later.

In addition, your printer must of course have power, so also check this cable and, if necessary, the power strip. If there is a gap in the cable connections, your computer can not recognize the printer and consequently cannot install its software properly.

With an older computer, please note that the first USB standards do not support bidirectional communication. Therefore, always use the USB ports with the higher standards as printer connections. If your new printer is not recognized by the PC, test all the USB ports available to you if you are unsure which USB port has which standard.

Tip 2: Printer cannot be installed because of the firewall

Today most printers and multifunction devices use bidirectional communication with the computer. This means that not only can your computer send data to the printer, but the printer can also send information to your PC. If you have set the parameters for the firewall too tight in your settings , this communication is not possible through the security software.

As a test, set the security settings of the firewall to a lower level if there are problems with the detection and installation of your printer. You can only completely rule out the firewall as the cause if you completely deactivate it as a test. However, do not forget to reactivate the firewall afterwards.

Please also consider at this point that most virus scanners have their own firewall . This software can also prevent your new printer from being recognized and installed correctly.

Tip 3: Not every printer is recognized on the first try

If you have problems installing new printers , a very general problem can also be responsible. Often the PC operating systems are busy elsewhere (e.g. processing files from programs) and therefore do not notice that you have made changes to the peripherals (= connected devices) of your PC. For the computer, it is as if someone were telling you something in a moment while you were concentrating on an even more important task and therefore did not notice what was being said. Then the information goes under.

So send your operating system the request for printer detection again. To do this, simply unplug the printer cable as a first step and then plug it back into the PC or printer after a few seconds.

Tip 4: Is your printer even Plug & Play capable?

An automatic detection and installation of the printer only works if it has plug & play capabilities . This means that you basically only have to connect the printer to the mains and to a suitable USB port in order to start the installation of the printer software using this function. You will then be guided through these step by step.

If your printer is not a plug & play device, there is no avoiding manual installation of the printer driver via the device manager in the control panel. The installation wizard belonging to the device manager guides you pretty well step by step with its instructions through this process and all settings. You can find extensive explanations in our guide ” Installing a printer – How do I set up my printer?” There we explain every step necessary to a successful installation.

Extra tip: Install an older printer manually, but the printer cannot be found? solution

You went to the control panel and selected “Hardware and Sound” or “Devices and Printers”.

Under Devices and Printers you clicked with the mouse button on “Add printer”. When your printer is connected, it will usually be searched and found and guided through the installation.

But if the device is not found , click in the next step on “The printer you are looking for is not listed.”

Click on “Add local printer or network printer with manual settings” and select either “USB001” or “LPT1” and then on “Windows Update”.

A list will soon appear from which you can select your printer. Now you can install the driver.

Tip 5: Are there no suitable printer drivers for your printer?

In the case of Plug & Play devices, the operating system gets the printer drivers from its own program libraries. If your printer model is not known there, the printer cannot be installed because the PC logically cannot load a driver automatically.

Sometimes updating your operating system can fix this problem . With the updates Microsoft also supplies printer drivers for newer models from the printer market, but also drivers for scanners and multifunction devices. If the installation of the printer software still does not work, you can install printer drivers manually .

Before you do this in the device manager of the control panel, the first step is to get the original printer driver from the support page of your printer manufacturer such as HP, Epson etc. Drivers from other sources are generally not recommended because there is a risk that the Printer drivers got malware onto your computer. You will also receive the latest update version of the printer software in this way.

Tip 6: Windows 10 blocks the installation of the printer drivers

Can an operating system block drivers ? The answer to this question is clearly in the affirmative. Older versions of Windows do not annoy you with the fact that the printer driver cannot be installed due to a lack of digital signatures . For PC with Windows 10, Microsoft is pretty consistent at this point for reasons of system security. Even with Windows 8.1 you can be confronted with exactly this problem when installing the printer and the associated printer driver and an error message appears.

If you bought an older printer used or received it as a gift and it cannot be installed, there is a little trick. You can force your computer’s operating system to also accept the unsigned drivers and work with them. For this you have to switch off the enforcement of driver signatures in the BIOS or the UEFI (depending on the age of your PC) . You can enter the BIOS by pressing a certain key during startup.

Which key this is depends on the specific configuration of the start options by the computer manufacturer. Both the F keys above the row of digits and the “Del” or “Esc” keys can be used. You can access the UEFI on the login screen. To do this, click the button on the right with the power symbol. Then press the capitalization key (Shift) and at the same time click on the “Restart” position.

If the printer manufacturer does not provide a driver for Windows 10 for your (older) printer, download the driver for Windows 8.1 and test whether your printer can be controlled with it.

In many cases, this procedure works wonderfully in order to continue using the printer sustainably and economically in a simple manner. (Whether the obstruction of further use is the calculation of the printer manufacturer? We do not allow ourselves any judgment …)

Tip 7: System resources are insufficient

Not much space is required for the installation and the drivers are already available in the libraries of the operating system. Did you just think that This may be true, but it does happen that your printer cannot be installed due to insufficient RAM and the installation of the printer driver does not start. This problem occurs with some versions of Windows 10 when you have less than 4 gigabytes of memory and want to install a network printer so that you can use it conveniently on the network.

Microsoft has now delivered a patch for this. If you have problems installing a network printer, you should get all available updates for your operating system and have them installed. The cause is not in the system performance itself, but Microsoft simply set the rules for the firewall too strict for such system configurations.

Tip 8: Run the printer installation as an administrator

If a printer cannot be installed, user rights restrictions may be the cause. You should keep this in mind if you have not logged into your computer as an administrator. The contents of system files are also changed during the printer installation. This concerns, for example, the necessary start of the Windows print services ( spooler ) and the registration of the device through an entry in the registry.

Changes to system files may only be made by the administrator . This means that the first step in printer installation is to log in as an administrator or ask your system administrator to install and share the printer before you can set up the printer driver.

Tip 9: Uninstall and reinstall the printer driver

Sometimes errors occur when installing the (printer driver) software. A new installation after you have deleted or uninstalled the driver software can lead you to success.

Uninstall the printer in Device Manager and then reinstall it. Very often the de-installation helps and the device does its job. If it does not run automatically, make sure to manually restart the PC after uninstalling and installing, to prevent problems that might otherwise arise.

Tip 10: let the Windows troubleshooter help you!

The Microsoft operating system comes with an on-board tool called Windows troubleshooting . It also works in many cases when your printer cannot be installed.

To do this, simply type “troubleshooting” into the search field in the start bar. Windows will then lead you directly to an overview in which you will receive an offer that Windows can fix the printer problems directly. Just follow the instructions and prompts on the screen. There is no guarantee of success, but this trail is definitely worth a try. However, this process may take a little longer.

Tip 11: Sometimes the easiest solution is to do a complete restart

If your printer cannot be installed, the cause is sometimes that your computer did not load all the files it needs for its work when it started up . Such startup errors can lead to many small problems. With Windows 10, they range from missing logos in the tile view to complete “system tags” that appear without prior signs. Often times, the operating system does not correctly recognize RAM bars or graphics cards, ports or WLAN modules when booting up.

Such errors in the execution of the startup options can also prevent the installation of new peripheral devices (e.g. your new printer). So sometimes restarting your computer can solve the problem.

Tip 12: Default printer cannot be installed

If a printer cannot be installed or set as the default printer, we first recommend running a virus scanner in order to detect and remove malware. Malicious programs can also be the trigger if a default printer cannot be specified as such. We have summarized further ideas for solving the problem and also defining instructions for the standard printer in the linked guide.

If the virus scanner and our solution approaches in the linked guide do not lead to a solution, please contact the support of the manufacturer of your operating system . You may also be able to visit a user forum designed for technical PC topics.

Conclusion: You can fix many printer installation problems yourself

One important takeaway is: your operating system isn’t infallible (which you probably already knew). Glitches during startup can prevent your printer from installing. They are more common than some users think. A speck of dust on the hard drive’s laser, a “cold soldering point” or a small voltage fluctuation are all that’s needed. The vast majority of problems with printer installations are due to the virus scanner and firewall settings or a lack of administrator rights and updates that were not performed promptly. Defects in the printer or computer make up only a tiny minority of installation problems .

If all of your efforts to install the printer don’t work, contact the retailer where you bought your printer. There you can make use of the statutory warranty. Make sure to take your receipt or proof of purchase with you.


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