Printer firmware is the software or operating system that controls the basic hardware functions of the printer. It is stored on the programmable memory (compact flash or DIMM) on the Formatter. Firmware can be thought of as a software layer between your printer driver and the hardware itself.
As the printer ages, it is inevitable the firmware will need to be changed or upgraded. New versions are periodically released to address issues that have come to light. To improve performance or to add new features to the printer. To fix existing hardware or firmware bugs. With the ever-changing software platforms, compatibility issues arise so the firmware will need to be changed or upgraded to keep up.
If your printer supports it, your firmware can be upgraded. Check the manufacturer’s website for availability. You should know what version you are currently at. Older models such as the HP 4100 and older are not upgradeable. Whereas the newer models such as the HP 4200 series and newer are upgradeable by either reflashing the DIMM or compact flash. Some models such as the HP 9050MFP when an upgrade of the firmware is done it also updates the fax module, DC controller and input and output device controllers as well. So when the MFP models are upgraded everything is covered in the device. All the control cards for each device are included in the upgrade file. Upgradeable colour printers are set up similarly, so when the upgrade is performed everything is upgraded at once.
Firmware versions can be found on the configuration sheet. This can be printed from the information menu. Printers with control panels can access the firmware version from the Information: Configuration menus, look under the Device Information section. HP firmware versions usually look something like 20021010 05. 007. 03. The first part is the firmware release date and the second part is the firmware version.
There are two schools of thought on upgrading firmware. Once an upgrade of the firmware is performed you will not be able to go back to the original version unless you have a copy of the file or access to it to downgrade it. My school of thought is if it’s working there is no need to change or upgrade the firmware as there is no reason to. There is no need to change anything unless there is some kind of enhancement which would make the printer faster or use less toner or something to justify the upgrade. On the other hand, if you re having problems or strange things are happening with no reason to explain why. Then a firmware upgrade is the first, cheapest place (its free!) to start. You will know immediately if your problem has been corrected. The upgrade is completed in a matter of minutes and you will be able to test the printer soon thereafter.
After reading the readme file for your printer model you have a few choices on how you want to proceed. The firmware can be upgraded/changed a few different ways depending on the operating environment of the printer. The file can be downloaded say to a laptop and then sent over the USB port while the printer is in the ready state. If the printer is on a network attached to a print server you can use tools from HP that will find your printer and walk you through the upgrade procedure. Web Jetadmin is a utility program from HP that can be used for this and many other functions regarding HP printers. The upgrade file can also be sent using FTP protocols also. They’re also an easy install utility program available for upgrading some of the business printers. HP. com/support will have the procedures to get it done.