With many devices, such as mice and keyboards, simply plugging in the USB cable causes a PC to automatically install drivers. Most printers, however, don't support this type of automatic installation. Moreover, plugging in a printer without installing its drivers can cause the computer to not recognize the correct drivers later on. To get your office printer up and running, you may need to first remove the broken installation.
When you plug a USB cable into a PC, Windows will automatically search through its known driver files to try to install your device. If it finds a matching driver, the installation succeeds. For many printers, however, Windows doesn't have the correct drivers built in. In these cases, the installation will fail, leaving the printer inoperable.
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Installing Correct Drivers
When setting up a new printer, always install the drivers provided by the printer manufacturer on a CD before taking any other steps. Often, the installation process will specify when to plug the printer into the computer. By running the install disc first, Windows will have the correct drivers ready when it searches for them upon detecting the USB cable. To avoid any other errors, you can download the newest version of the printer drivers from the manufacturer's website instead of using the install disc, which may be outdated.
Fixing Broken Installations
If you plug a printer in before installing the drivers, Windows may attempt to install it even without working drivers. In this situation, the system won't switch to the correct drivers even if you install them later. To fix this error, press "Windows-X" and click "Device Manager" to open Device Manager first. Look for any items marked with a question mark, labelled "Unknown Device." Right-click this entry and pick "Uninstall." Afterwards, unplug the printer and install the drivers before reattaching it.
Other Potential Problems
If you install your drivers in advance and the computer still won't install the printer when you attach it, any one of your components may have a defect. First, make sure the printer turns on before plugging in the USB cable. Try using a different USB cord, and attach the cord to a different USB port on your computer. Plug the printer in directly to the computer, rather than using a USB port on a keyboard or hub. If your computer still won't recognize the printer, the printer itself may be broken.