The Secret Behind Printer Firmware Updates

Feb 20, 2020

printer not working

Optional updates have become the norm in our modern lifestyles over the past years. Your iPhone is continually reminding you to update the firmware to patch bugs and lead you to better user experience. The individual applications on your phone are constantly being updated by their developers, almost at a breakneck speed. Some apps like Facebook and Twitter mandate weekly updates to smooth out ongoing internal issues. We never think twice to remain with our “outdated” firmware once the newest firmware is released.

But when do printer firmware updates run the risk of infringing on your wallet?

Made challenging to access for the average consumer and often hidden behind walls of text, some printer firmware updates are hiding their true purpose. Updating your printer firmware can render your ink cartridges useless in some cases.

What is a Printer Firmware Update?

Firmware is software embedded in your printers operating system, which authorizes it to function. Simply put, the chip inside your printer that communicates with your computer and delegates what is being printed.

Firmware can be updated remotely via firmware updates, which are sent out by the printer manufacturers themselves. These firmware updates affect how the printer works and the way it accomplishes its tasks. Firmware updates can fix minor problems and even improve the way your printer functions, such as printing speed. But running a firmware update on your printer can lead to complications if not researched thoroughly. Some deceptive practices have disguised their firmware updates for ulterior motives.

Why Doesn’t My Ink Cartridge Work Anymore? 

Certain manufacturers in the past, like HP, Canon, and Epson, have stealthily implemented automatic firmware updates for the sole purpose of blocking the usage of your remanufactured and compatible ink cartridges.

But why is HP blocking 3rd party cartridges?

Many factors come into play; from a business standpoint, a large portion of their revenue comes directly from HP Ink Cartridge sales. Usually, their printers are sold at cost (or below cost in some cases) to sell HP ink at a higher price for a more extended period. This is called the “Razorblade” business model.

According to a transcript of their 2019 Quarter 1 Earning Call: Former HP President and Chief Executive Officer, Dion Weisler, stated: “ aftermarket manufacturers were cutting into a share of the business, which leads to a fast deceleration in their aftermarket share.

HP has been no stranger when it comes to quietly stomping out cheap ink alternatives. Starting in September 2016, HP released the first firmware update that effectively blocked Non HP Ink Cartridges from being used in your HP Printer. This update targeted multiple popular models of the HP OfficeJet and OfficeJet Pro series and rendered previous third party ink cartridges useless.

Firmware Updates are often sporadic and come at any moment. Another case of a stealth firmware update as recent as January 2019 was reported to affect the recognition of “Unsupported Cartridges,” which rendered Non-HP Ink cartridge completely useless.

Most printer firmware cannot be reverted once updated. Once you download that update, you will be locked into that firmware forever (or until you upgrade to a later version).

If you use remanufactured and compatible ink cartridges, there are some steps you can take to protect your printer and ensure these firmware updates won't render your printer ink useless.

Stopping Automatic Firmware Updates

The best way to ensure these automatic firmware updates don’t affect your print is to merely opt-out of them. Older printer models may give you the option to decline the update. In that case, simply click NO when the Update Available message is prompted on your printer screen.

Most modern printers do not give you this option, as their default setting is to automatically update. Modern printers will check periodically for new firmware updates and install them without your consent. Firmware updates can take anywhere from 10 to 30 minutes depending on your internet connection. If you leave your printer on all day, the firmware may have already been updated without your knowledge.

If you’re looking to avoid this problem, you must go through a few extra steps to disable the automatic updates.

Note: Not all printers follow the same steps for disabling Automatic Firmware Updates. Most same brand printers have similar instructions, so there may be variation between model to model.

How to Turn Off Automatic Firmware Updates on HP OfficeJet and OfficeJet Pro:

  1. On the printer, select the Web Services icon on the top right corner of the screen. The Web Services Icon is outlined in red below.

  2. Go to Settings
  3. Select Printer Update
  4. Within that menu, you will see an option for Auto Update
  5. Check the box that says NO

This will effectively turn the auto-updates off for most HP OfficeJet and OfficeJet Pro series printers.


Firmware updates are not always detrimental and can be helpful in specific cases. Sometimes they can improve printing speed, patch existing bugs within the system, and allow for smoother operation.

It’s essential to do your research and determine for yourself whether the update is right for you.

If you simply do not want to bother with dealing with the looming threat of firmware updates ruining your third party cartridges, there are hassle-free printer manufacturers out there.

Alternatively, printer manufacturers such as Brother runs fewer firmware updates that render your printer ink useless. Here over at, we love to recommend Brother laser printer products to anyone who is looking for a reliable, high quality, and affordable printer. There’s a reason that the  Brother MFC-9130CW is one of the most popular printers in their line. With crisp results and a fraction of the cost of the competitors, this is a hard deal to pass up. If you’re looking to print more with your printer ink cartridges, the Brother MFC-J995DW is known for its “INKvestment Tank,” which utilizes less ink than the competitors. Pair this printer with our extremely affordable Super High Yield and Ultra High Yield compatible cartridges to print up to 6,000 pages per cartridge. believes in giving the customer more for what they pay for. Our remanufactured and compatible ink cartridges are specially designed to offer a better value than the name brand competitors for a more affordable price. We carry cheap ink cartridges for all the large printer brands such as HP, Brother, Epson, Canon, and Lexmark, to name a few. We support new and older models with the right ink that will work with your printer. We have a 100% satisfaction guarantee to ensure our customers have a positive experience.

To learn more about compatible and remanufactured printer ink cartridges, visit our website at or give us a call at 1-866-658-8125, and one of our Customer Service Representatives would be more than happy to help you.