In the past several years 49.xxxx service errors have become one of the most common errors associated with all models of the HP line of printers. In this article, I’ll discuss the meaning of the error, what causes it, and gives some tips on trying to fix it. Yes, I said try. Given the nature of the errors each one is unique and what might work on one will not work on another. So patience and a little bit of luck might be needed. Read on…
First, the 49 error is an internal communication problem. The firmware has had a critical error and the formatter processor has aborted its operation. XXXX refers to the address of the fault. This doesn’t mean much to end users but HP likes to record these so if they start seeing a high level of errors with the same fault address they can focus on making changes with the firmware or other parts to prevent the error from recurring.
HP’s service manual says the 49 error can be caused by a bad print command, corrupt data, invalid operations, firmware, formatter, or possibly by accessories like an EIO card or memory. Some reports even say extra trays, duplexers, envelope feeders, etc., under certain circumstances, can cause this error.
With the amount of 49 errors and the ranges of fixing them I wouldn’t necessarily say it’s caused by a bad command or corrupt data. That’s HP’s way of saying ‘it’s someone else’s fault.’ The truth is there are lots of other manufacturers out there that aren’t having this problem.
Many of these 49 errors are happening with newer software, file types like PDFs, special fonts, formats, or pages pulled off the internet. So, the reality is, HP’s driver/firmware software doesn’t seem to be keeping up with the rapidly evolving software industry. I will say that recently I was checking out some firmware fixes for a few printers and was surprised to see several 49 errors being addressed in the firmware updates. So HP is aware of these issues and attempting to correct the problems.
Isolating the problem
Many times, users power off, and when they power back on the printer starts working. Shortly thereafter, or within the next few days, the 49 error reappears and a service call is needed.
I suggest the following steps to isolate the 49 error problem:
(1) Power off the device and disconnect any communication cables; Network, USB, or Parallel cable.
(2) Wait 30 seconds and turn the device back on. If the error is still present then we know we have a device error – move to step #3. If the error goes away, see Communication between the computer and network (below).
(3) Unplug the printer and remove any accessories like EIO cards, memory, extra trays, duplexer (if removable), and envelope feeder. If the error goes away when you power back on, start reinstalling the parts one at a time, powering off before installing each part until you find the part causing the error. Once you’ve isolated the problem part, before replacing that part, check for any firmware updates and then reinstall the part. Some firmware updates fix this type of issue.
If the 49 error is still present after removing everything possible, try a cold reset or NVRAM initialization (see service manual for details). A cold reset resets minor stored memory settings like control panel settings or internal and external jet direct settings, so, if possible, know these settings before proceeding or remove the jet direct card. NVRAM is more evasive and clears out more of the internal memory like error logs and certain counters.
If the 49 error persists, it’s time to replace the firmware DIMM, if there is one, or to replace the formatter board. On extremely rare occasions the DC controller or power supply can be at fault. Check the service manual for specific 49 errors related to these parts.
Communication between the computer and network
More than 95 percent of the recent 49 error faults are communication/software related. If the printer is connected to one PC we simply see what file was sent to the printer last (usually still in your computers print queue). Note the file and delete the job from the queue.
The printer’s service manual says to download the latest and greatest firmware or driver. I, personally, have fixed lots of the 49 errors just by changing the driver. Most HP printers have three drivers; PCL 5, PCL 6, and Postscript so first, simply try another driver. I usually go with PCL 5 or PCL 6. Most of the errors I see are when using the Postscript driver. HP likes to show the fixes beside the driver and firmware so check them out. As I mentioned earlier, I was surprised at the amount of 49 errors being addressed on the few I looked at.
Once the driver or firmware is changed, reprint the problem print job. If you’re still getting an error, try downloading a generic universal print driver, which you can find in the same section as the firmware and driver downloads on HP‘s website.
Converting the document
If, after trying all drivers and updating the firmware, you are still getting the 49 error, convert your document to another software application. For example, convert a Word document to a PDF or vice versa. The logic behind this is that you probably have a command in the document that the printer doesn’t know how to handle. When you convert the document to new software the data is reformatted.
Still getting the 49 error?
Most errors should be fixed by following the above steps. Still, I know of cases where all of these steps were tried and the printer still gives the error. As I stated earlier, the causes of the 49 error are vast and each one is unique. As a last resort, find the offending print job and try printing it to a different printer. I did see on firmware released this year HP has added an auto recovery feature. Read more here: Auto Recovery Feature for 49.xxx Errors
For printers on the network, trying to isolate the issue can be frustrating and time consuming. If you have a server print queue, check the queue for the offending print job. If print jobs aren’t stored in a server print queue, you will have to go around individually to each workstation to find who is sending the offending job. Once found then follow the steps in the previous section.
I’ve found that most 49 errors occur when someone has recently installed new or old software, downloaded something off the internet, created a new file, or tried altering a document by changing fonts, color scheme, adding a picture, or formatting. Ask questions! Look for something that has recently changed, even the smallest detail can be the most important.
Kevin Gumpp is a certified printer technician and freelance writer for Market Point. If you have a question for Kevin regarding this topic or have any other printer repair related questions or topics you would like more information on, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.