Increase Your Printer’s Lifespan

Did you know that color printers have a lifespan that’s perfectly acceptable for both personal and professional use at the price they come, even while laser printers generally last a bit longer? Basically, you end up replacing inkjet printers every three to four years, but laser printers generally last a few years longer. Some users have reported a handful of personal grade laser printers that have been churning out pages for a full decade. Wow! But no matter what kind of printer you use, here are a few tips that will help you maintain your printer in tip top shape for as long as possible!

Tip 1: Go Easy on a Paper Jam

In case of a paper jam, never force the paper out. This can not only damage the printer, but also leave bits of torn paper inside, which could cause harm later on. To get the paper out smoothly, most printers have a hatch attached at the back that can be easily removed. Once this hatch is removed, you will gain access to the paper wheels and you should be able to see the jammed paper to get it out.

Tip 2: Avoid Shutting Down the Printer in an Improper Manner

Turn off your printer when not in use. This can prevent drying of ink and it also helps to keep the printer functioning at an optimum level. Remember to use the printer’s power button and then remove the plug if need be. Don’t turn the power off if you are in the middle of something.

Tip 3: Avoid Cheap Toner/Ink Cartridges

Often times, we are tempted to use either compatible, refilled or remanufactured ink/toner cartridges, which is something we all should avoid. That is like buying a compatible spare part for a car instead of buying the original parts. It may somewhat perform the same function as the original, but it would not last as long and it could affect the performance of the vehicle itself. In addition, we need to look at how such companies manufacture their products. In the case of remanufacturing cartridges, what actually happens is this: the manufacturer would first purchase empty toner cartridges from end users. They would then strip the toner cartridge to its bare minimum and they would then reassemble them after a little bit of cleaning. The area of specific concern here is the toner drum. There is a set lifespan for this item and no amount of cleaning would extend it.

Lifespan of Cartridges

The lifespan of an ink cartridge varies, depending on how often and how much you print. Light users might replace their ink two or three times a year, while heavier users may go through cartridges every few months (cartridges left sitting for a year or more may dry out as well). If you want a more concrete answer on how many pages you’ll get out of a cartridge, consult the manufacturer for the rating on a specific model printer and cartridge. A typical answer will be something along the lines of 350 pages at a five percent coverage. That means a cartridge can print 350 pages with an average of a five percent surface area inked on each page.
The lifespan of a toner cartridge varies greatly, depending on the type of laser printer you have. Cheaper toner cartridges cost under $100 and output 2,500 to 5,000 pages. More expensive toner cartridges are meant for printers that do a lot of printing (a very common reason to have a laser printer in the first place) and will yield tens of thousands of pages. Some of the most expensive, heavy duty cartridges will even yield hundreds of thousands of pages. It just depends on what you buy!

And finally

The lifespan of a printer depends on the sturdiness of the machine, how much you use it and how well you maintain it. Printers will eventually fail, but some will last nearly forever. Take good care of your printer and it will take care of you, for a much longer time. And one more thing: to ensure your printer has a long lifespan, you should not base your purchase solely on its speed or its price. The monthly duty cycle indicates the maximum number of pages the printer is designed to produce. Buying a printer that has a duty cycle that is two to three times your expected print volume will help ensure its longevity as well.
Happy printing!


  1. A lot behind a printer’s life is in its design in my opinion. I have an 8-year old HP ink jet printer that still prints like day one. It is a very sturdy machine that rarely jams. I am a light user printing a few pages per week and the cartridges usually last more than a year. The color cartridge is nearing two years now!!! But this is mostly due to the huge size of the cartridges. Never had a dry cartridge but then again, the design has much to do with it because the printer caps the cartridges when they go back to the side when not printing. I know a few people who have the same printer or printers from the same family just as old as mine and still work.

  2. I agree with you, Luis… old is indeed gold! Though the normal life span is 3-4 years, you could go on for eight years and counting because of also the way you have used it. Look at the way people treat a printer in offices… Seen the film, Office Space? It epitomises how a printer is treated when the paper gets stuck! And this is a perennial problem when too many people in the office print on the same printer simultaneously… at the end, everyone has a frayed temper and the printer gets blamed for it, even though it’s just a victim of a printer jam!

  3. You mean that you always take your car back to the vechicle manufactor for repair and replacement parts? Thats just silly and the most costly thing that you could do.

  4. My machine gets the crap beat out of it, maybe thats why any printer I ever get lasts about a year. I also shut it down improperly all the time. This is helpful, thanks

  5. HP inkjets are not what they used to be. Anything HP touched in the inkjet division in the last two years has been crap, in my opinion. I have had over 8 of them die on customers. Same goes for Lexmark.

    Laserjets are a completely different story, however, as HP makes top notch machines there.

    About the only inkjet I recommend anymore are the Cannon Pixma series – and I have had FANTASTIC luck with them.

    Tyler Thompson
    PCM Editor-in-Chief

  6. PricklySponge says:

    I dont do any of these things and have had the same HP Laserjet 4P for thirteen years.

    It’s an amazing printer

  7. Older inkjet printers were made a lot better than todays. If you buy the manufacuters cartridges, you’re spending almost as much as the printer costs. Nothing wrong with third party cartridges, been using them for 15 years now.

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