The causes and how to fix lines on printouts

If you own a printer, chances are you’ll experience some sort of trouble with it at some point, if you haven’t already. One of the most common ailments plaguing printers is horizontal lines across the page – lines you didn’t ask to be there.

The good news is that there are several steps you can take to try to cure this problem before having to call in a professional or replace the printer entirely.

Basic Causes and Fixes

Fortunately, most fixes for horizontal lines fall into this category. It’s always a good idea to start with the simplest, easiest remedies before taking more drastic measures and risking further damage.

Ink level is low
This is one of the most common reasons unwanted lines appear on printouts. If your printer is running out of ink, simply replace or refill your ink cartridges following the manufacturer’s instructions and recommendations.

Often new printers come with ink cartridges that are either low on ink or have ink cartridges that have dried out from lack of use while sitting on the shelf. If you’ve just purchased a new printer, double check the cartridges that came with it.

Settings are incorrect
It can make a big difference in the quality of your printout if your settings are not correct. Check the following:A woman with a hammer about to hit a printer

  • Paper type – Make sure the paper type selected matches the paper you are actually using. Printing photos and the use of photo paper is especially affected by incorrect settings.
  • Print quality – Settings usually offer a choice between Draft, Normal and Best. Select the highest quality possible.
  • Color or black and white – Select “Color” printing even if you are printing a document that is only in black and white. While it may seem counterintuitive, some printers that have separate color and black and white cartridges use ink from both cartridges – even for black and white documents. Choosing the “Color” option will often fix horizontal lines appearing in black and white printouts.
  • Speed – Turning off high speed printing mode often eliminates unwanted lines.

Test, clean, and align
Part of good printer maintenance is periodically running your printer through a cycle of test, clean, and align – even when there aren’t problems. This helps keep the printer operating smoothly. It’s also a good basic step toward resolving problems with your printouts.

Troubleshoot
Most printers have a troubleshooting option. Go ahead and run your computer’s troubleshooting program for your printer. Windows users can reach this through the Control Panel, while Mac users go through System Preferences.

Read the manual
If you haven’t thrown out or misplaced your printer’s manual, it can actually be helpful to take a look through it and check for helpful hints. Manuals also usually have their own specific troubleshooting guides – as well as a tech support hotline.

Defective cartridge
Once in a while, an ink cartridge is simply defective. If the printer is working and you’ve tried everything else, you may just need to replace the cartridge.

Advanced Causes and Fixes

Unfortunately, there are times when the basic fixes just aren’t enough. These fixes take a bit more time and effort, but they can ultimately save you the expense and hassle of either having your printer repaired or purchasing a new one.

Clogged/dirty print head
If the horizontal lines on your printouts are black or in color and are not simply streaks where ink is missing, a clogged or dirty print head is a likely culprit. There are several methods of cleaning print heads, depending on the make and model of the printer. It’s always best to check with the printer’s manufacturer for the recommended method. However, there are some do’s and don’ts that apply regardless of printer brand:

  • DO unplug the printer and remove the ink cartridges before cleaning the print head.
  • DON’T use tap water to clean the print head. Most inks are water soluble, so purified water is effective and relatively safe to use for cleaning. However, tap water can contain minerals and other impurities that can damage the print head.
  • DO use distilled water to clean the print head.
  • DON’T use compressed air to blow out print heads or nozzles. These parts are delicate and can be damaged by compressed air.
  • DO consider cleaning the backside of the print head assembly if cleaning the print head alone does not resolve the problem.

Defective print head
If after cleaning the print head assembly there are still unwanted lines, the print head may be defective and should be replaced.

If All Else Fails

Sometimes there’s truly nothing to be done except to either take the printer in to be serviced or buy a new one altogether. If it comes to that after trying the above fixes, at least you’ll know you did everything possible first.

Online data backup using cloud computing technology

This is a sponsored post on behalf of Bulldog Backup. To find out more about sponsored content on Technology Bloggers, please visit our Privacy Policy.

In the past I have written about cloud computing and how cloud data storage is the future, and at the moment it is playing a key part in backup technologies, as it is now easier than ever before to backup your data online.

One firm that offer online backup services are the Glasgow based Bulldog Backup, they were founded in 2010 and offer backup solutions for both domestic and business users.

I read a statistic the other day that almost 50% of businesses reported a loss of important data in the last two years, probably why more and more firms are investing in online data backup systems!

The good thing is, online backup solutions are getting easier and easier to use, another reason why more and more people are using them. For example, with Bulldog Backup, all you need to is select the package you want to buy, you will then be emailed with your login credentials, then all you need do is login and download the relevant backup client – either Windows or Mac.

When you install your backup software you are asked what you want to backed up, you can choose your entire hard disk, or just a few files – say pictures and music for instance.

Now you may be thinking that online backup storage is a great idea for most people, but you are on a connection which has a limited monthly allowance – say 40 gigabytes, you can’t afford to run the backup system, in fear of going over your allowance.

There is a solution to this too. With most good backup systems nowadays, you can configure how much bandwidth is used for backups, therefore you never go over your limit. You can also choose which files the software should prioritise the backing up of – e.g. give pictures and documents high priority, whilst don’t worry so much about music.

Select how much bandwidth online backup can use

Select how much of your bandwidth Bulldog Backup can use

The best thing is, once you have backed up your files, you can easily access them from anywhere, using your own personal web portal. Bulldog Backup’s portal has a clean layout and is designed to make listening to audio files and viewing images as easy as possible, all as standard. Therefore you can access all your albums whilst out and about, how cool is that! You can also install mobile apps for both iOS and Android, making it even easier for you to access your files on the move.

If you want to go up a level Bulldog Backup offer a ‘Pro’ account which has all of the standard features, with the addition of a ‘SmartDrive’ allowing you to sync files across multiple computers. A SmartDrive is basically a drive that appears like any other hard disk on your computer, only anything you store in it is automatically uploaded to the cloud – a pretty cool bit of tech don’t you think?

A screenshot of a SmartDrive

A screenshot of what the Bulldog Backup SmartDrive looks like – just another hard disk

Okay, so you like the idea of online backup, you can see the potential and benefits, but, what about the costs? Well you may be pleasantly surprised, you can start backing up online with Bulldog Backup from only £2.95 a month ($4.63) with a 1 Terabyte Protect account.

Think that is a good price? I have managed to get a discount promo code which makes the same account cost just £1.25 ($1.96) a month, and that price is fixed for 5 years! Visit the site bulldogbackup.com and use the promo code ‘bullbonanza00’ at the checkout before the 29th of February (this year) to take get started at that rock bottom price 🙂

What do you think about online backup? Will you be investing in it in the near future?

Understanding iCloud

The latest release in the cloud computing world, and the replacement for Apple’s old MobileMe service is Apple iCloud. The new software is designed to work seamlessly between various apple hardware such as iPods, Apple laptops and desktops, and the iPad. There are several applications available with the iCloud software, ranging from ‘Find my Device’, which allows an internet connected device such as the iPhone to be remotely tracked, to Photo Stream, which makes ‘streamed’ photos available on any connected device.

The first, Find My Device, was initially a MobileMe application, which has been migrated to the iCloud software package. Using the service, a user can view the rough location of their device over-layed on a scalable map of the area, as well as a circle indicating the margin of error on the tracking. Along with remote tracking, the program also allows the user to change the password, display a message on the device, or play a sound (even if it is set to silent). A final feature of the program makes use of the cloud storage technology and allows the user to temporarily delete the contents of the device, storing them to the cloud server until told to return to their original location.

Computing from the cloud

Not quite cloud computing!

Photo Stream directly utilizes the cloud storage technology to share pictures between devices. When a picture is taken from an iphone with Photo Stream enabled, the picture will automatically be uploaded to the cloud server, where it will be available to any of the user’s other Photo Stream enabled machines. According to Apple, the service will soon be integrated with their Apple TV box, which would allow users to view any pictures in icloud on TVs connected to Apple TV.

While only currently available in the US, iTunes Match is one of the most popular uses for the virtual computing abilities of the iCloud software. iTunes Match allows users to ‘scan’ their music in any compatible device (even if the music is not purchased from iTunes), and upload it to the iCloud virtual servers, ready to be downloaded to any of the user’s other Apple products in a DRM free format.

‘Back To My Mac’ and iOS Backup are two more erstwhile MobileMe program migrated to the iCloud package. The first is essentially a remote access program, allowing the user to remotely log into any device with the same Apple ID and the program active. The second is a backup program, which allows the user to back up the data and settings on their device to the virtual servers, and restore the device or access the data remotely as needed.

While the iCloud software is very slim as far as system resources, it requires a fairly current OS to run properly. Creating an account requires iOS 5 or later, or for desktops, OSX Lion. For PCs, Windows Vista or later is required to properly sync. iCloud can also sync to Outlook 7 or later for calendars and contact info.

The cost of the iCloud software varies with the amount of services the user chooses to sign up for. Data storage starts at 5 gigabytes free, and added storage can be purchased in increments of ten gigabytes, for $20 per ten gigabytes per year. At the moment, the maximum storage amount available is 50 gigabytes, however Apple has said it is possible for that to go up in the future. Apart from storage costs, the iTunes Match service is a yearly fee of $25.

With the iCloud software, Apple has taken full advantage of the evolving cloud storage technology to bring a wide variety of programs to Apple users, and an increased connectivity between Apple hardware.