Q. We're getting rid of our HP all-in-one printer and buying a new one. I know printers store a lot of our info and I would like to know how to erase it before we pass it on. Thanks!
-Paul in Las Vegas, Nevada, listens to Kim's national radio show on KXNT 100.5 FM/840 AM
A. Before you get rid of any electronic gadget, you should think about what information of yours it might be storing. It's especially critical to wipe computers, cellphones and tablets, but other gadgets you might not expect can store data as well, including printers. So, thank you for your good security question, Paul.
Standalone consumer printers don't actually have that much storage space, and it wipes when you turn off the unit. All-in-one printers have a bit more internal storage to support the scanner, copier and fax features, so it might store documents a bit longer, although probably not very many. That means there's a little less to worry about than commercial copiers that have hard drives.
Tip within a tip: When it's time to get a new printer, trust this advice. Purchasing an EcoTank Printer from Epson will cut down the cost you're spending on ink over time. Epson EcoTank printers come with two years of ink already included, so you can finally kiss those annoying ink cartridges goodbye. Click here for more information on Epson's line of affordable EcoTank Printers, and start saving on ink today.
So in cases where your printer dies, you don't need to worry. No hacker is going to pull the memory chips and reconstruct whatever data might be on them if any. Just be sure to remove any memory cards from the card-reader slots before throwing it out.
If your printer is still in working order, however, then keep reading for instructions on how to know if it's storing your information and how to wipe it.
One clue your printer is storing data is if your printer has the ability to reprint documents you printed, scanned or copied days or weeks before. Maybe it lets you reorder jobs in the print queue, or includes a private printing feature. Private printing is where you send the document, but it doesn't actually print until you're standing at the printer.
If your printer can do any of these, turn it off and turn it back on again. Then check if old print, scan, copy or fax jobs are still available for reprinting. Go to the menu to see if you can find a log of past prints or faxes. If the data is gone, then you're done. However, if you're still seeing it, you should perform a hard reset.
The general way to do this is to turn the printer ON, then unplug the power cord from the back of the printer. Next, unplug the power cord from the wall. Wait for at least 15 seconds. Then plug the power cord back into the wall, and then the back of the printer.
If it doesn't turn on automatically, turn it on with the power button. Check to see if your information is still available. If so, you'll need to do a factory reset.
Warning: Aside from documents, a modern wireless printer connected to your network, or smartphone or tablet, might have stored connection information. You definitely want to make sure that's gone, which means either deleting it in the menu settings or initiating a factory reset.
The directions for a factory reset vary by manufacturer, and sometimes printer model, so you'll need to check your manual. If you don't have the manual, get it from the manufacturer's website, or an online manual site.
Usually, the manual will direct you to the appropriate spot in the printer's menu system. On an HP, you can look around for the "resets" menu. This lets you do a partial reset, a semifull reset, or, on some models, a full reset. In this case, you want the semifull reset. That will wipe out any personal information and return basic settings to the default.
Once you've gotten rid of your old printer, you can turn your attention to buying a new one. At Komando, we recommend you take a look at an EcoTank from our sponsor Epson. It's an all-in-one printer that has a major difference: no ink cartridges.
Instead, it has ink reservoirs you refill from bottles. The benefit is that a bottle of ink is much easier to make than a cartridge, so the price is lower. In fact, a bottle of ink is just $13 (vs. $20 for a typical Epson cartridge), which makes a set of four (Black, Cyan, Magenta, Yellow) just $52.
Even better, Epson said that a single set of bottles will last for two years of printing! Of course, everyone prints a different amount every year, so Epson got a bit more specific and said that for the cheapest models each bottle set should last for 4,000 black pages and 6,500 color pages.
Consumer Reports did some math and figured out that with a regular Epson printer you'd need 20 sets of cartridges costing a total of $800 to print the same amount. In other words, you save $750 in ink costs with an EcoTank.
We should also point out that all EcoTank printers come fully filled and with a bottle of each ink color, so out of the gate it should last for two years before you need to buy anything else. Click here to learn more benefits of an Epson EcoTank printer.
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