Connecting printers via USB2.0 issues

When first time connected, the printer is not recognized (the system notifies you with “unknown device” message, or it “sees” nothing at all); even if it is recognized it works unstable: prints not a complete page, or some pages fall out from the task, or it goes to “sleep” and doesn’t wake up after (so you need to switch it off and on to make it work), or when you try to print with it, the computer brings out “ErrMsg: Error Writing to LPT1”…

If you have one of the problems described above you may not try to reinstall printer drivers a number of times, trying to find a “newer” version on different resources, start with your USB cable right away! Yes, USB cable, however irrational this suggestion may seem at first sight. Microsoft brought another thing to have fun with for all printer manufacturers when it released service pack 2 for Windows XP. This OS is the reason of described above issues. Accordingly, all of these issues are covering almost all kinds of printers; this is especially true for GDI printers.

So, start by changing your USB cable. But don’t simply change one cheap cable for another – it won’t change anything at all. You should have USB 2.0 FullSpeed cable. USB 2.0 FullSpeed cable is easy to distinguish since it has (in some cases) ferrite ring (wire thickening) and almost always by corresponding marking (see the photo below).


This kind of cable is much more noise protected. One of the main important USB cable characteristics is the signal damping intensity. It is defined by the marking (for example 28AWG or 26AWG, and so on, up to 20AWG). According to the marking (first two numbers) you can define the maximum cable length, when the cable is able to work properly with USB2.0:

28 = 0.81 m
26 = 1.31 m
24 = 2.08 m
22 = 3.33 m
20 = 5.00 m

The maximum length of the USB cable should be no longer than 5 meters (as to the 20AWG). If longer distance is required (the distance between the computer and printer), you need to use active repeaters (for example USB hubs).

Another way of solving this issue is to forcibly decrease the speed of the computer’s USB-port: it is usually done in BIOS Setup; and all you have to do is to indicate that the port is no longer 2.0, but 1.1. After that you can forget about high-speed devices…

So – having a good, proper cable is always better.

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