Firmware Update Issues? Check the Formatter Port

A few months ago I went out to a customer site to update firmware on five HP P4015 machines. They had been having unexpected print problems after upgrading their computer systems to Windows 8. Unfortunately this seemingly simple job went south quickly. Let me explain.

I downloaded the firmware on the first machine and it crashed half-way through the update. I rebooted the machine and was confronted with a SEND RFU UPDATE message. I was able to get the machine to a ready state and print some test pages but the network port was no longer working so I had to go to the USB update. Again, the firmware update crashed half-way through.

At this point, it was about 90 degrees in the factory where we were working. They were ready to call it a day due to the conditions. I was only on the first machine and had been there over an hour, for what should have been an hour job to update all five machines.

In desperation I opened up the formatter cage, where you install extra memory, to see if I could find anything unusual or out of place. That’s when I noticed a thumb drive stuck into one of the USB ports on the surface of the formatter board. The thumb drive was for a bar code system they were using. I removed the thumb drive, reinstalled the firmware, and everything went smoothly. I reinstalled the thumb drive after the firmware update had completed and the machine worked fine.

The second machine had the same thumb drive so I removed that before attempting the update and everything went as planned. The next three machines didn’t have the thumb drives so there was no problem updating the firmware.

I have done lots of firmware updates and this is the first time I have run into this problem. Most older models don’t have ports on the formatter board for thumb drives. If you are trying to perform an update and can’t get it to go through, check the USB port on the formatter board. I know, from now on, I will be.

Kevin Gumpp is a certified printer technician and freelance writer for Market Point. Market Point is a HP PartsOne Partner selling HP printer parts. If you have a question regarding this topic or have any other printer repair related questions or topics for which you would like more information, please send an email to


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