How to reset HP printer "ink system failure" errors

This page contains information on dealing with "Ink system failure", "Scanner system failure" and similar error messages on HP printers and multifunction devices. Often the errors appear after replacing ink cartridges, sometimes during printing, other times there is no apparent reason. Before attempting to reset any error, make sure that there is no obvious problem that might be causing it (eg: no ink in cartridges, cartridges over full, ink on the cartridge chips/contacts, missing cartridge chip etc.).

Resetting HP 3110 & 3310 "system failure" errors:

(might work on other similar models as well)

1) with the printer turned on, switch off at the power point (or remove power cable from printer). Don't shut down using the "power" button on printer!

2) press and hold OK and CANCEL buttons at the same time

3) replace power cord or switch on at the power point (while still holding the OK and CANCEL buttons)

4) the printer should power up

5) follow on screen prompts to set the date, country etc

6) switch printer off when prompted

7) turn printer back on (using the POWER button) and check that the error is gone

Resetting HP Photosmart C6180 & C7180 "system failure" errors:

(might work on other similar models as well)

1) press * and # at the same time

2) press 1, 2, 3 and “support R0632M” should display

3) press > and “information menu” should display

4) press > and “configuration menu” should display

5) press OK and “hardware failure status” should display

6) press OK “failure status: clear”. Press OK to clear

7) press CANCEL

8) press CANCEL

9) press CANCEL

10) turn printer off, unplug power cord for 2 minutes, plug cord back in then turn printer back on.

Most Epson (and other) ink printers use a waste ink tank or ink pads to contain the ink used during print-head charging or cleaning. Every time you replace an ink cartridge, press the "clean print-head" button, or even just turn your printer off or on, amount of ink is pumped out of the ink cartridges into the waste tank.

After a certain number of print-head priming/cleaning cycles is executed, the waste ink tank fills up. To prevent the ink from overflowing and leaking out of the printer, Epson printers are programmed to shut down before the tank is full. Usually there is no warning this is about to happen. One minute you're happily printing, next the printer comes to a grinding halt with all the warning lights flashing like a Christmas tree and a message like "some parts inside your printer have reached the end of their useful life and need replacing", or "your printer requires servicing" or something like that. The printer refuses to do anything. When this happens, you can either take your printer to an Epson repairer and have it serviced, or deal with the waste tank yourself and reset the printer error. Click here to find more information on waste ink tanks and how to deal with them.

To reset the waste ink error you will need to download a reset program. This resets the printer counters back to 0 and the printer should work again. If you have older Epson, you should be able to find a free reset utility at:

Note: SSC have stopped updating the reset utility for new printers few years back, so if your Epson is more recent, you might have to find the software elsewhere. You can find resets for most Epsons by doing a google search for: "maintenance error reset Epson XXXXXX" (enter your model number instead of XXXXX eg. TX800W). Be prepared to pay $10-15 for this.

How to use SSC reset utility for Epson printers

The SSC software (if available for your model) is quite easy to use, but some people may find the instructions below helpful. You might want to check the forum on the SSC website, before deciding to download, or use the program. The program is not authorised by Epson.

After you download the software, install it in "program files". Make sure the printer is connected to computer via USB or parallel cable and turn the printer on.

A new icon should appear on your desktop somewhere. It looks like a little printer. Click it and a window like this should open. Select a printer model from the lower dropdown menu that matches yours...

If you have several printers installed on your computer, select the one you are wanting to use the software with this time - from the top dropdown menu...

This is what the window should look like for an Epson R310 printer...

Click the "Ink monitor" tab and the window should change to something like this. Click the "Refresh" button to check that the software is communicating with the printer ok. If it isn't, you will get a message: "Printer not ready" or similar. If so, switch the printer off & on again, then try again. If you can't get the software to communicate - it will not work...

If the window looks like this (above), the program is communicating ok and you are half way there. Close the window and a new icon should appear in your tool bar (near the clock in right bottom corner)...looks like a printer with rainbow above it. Right click it and menu like this should pop up...

Left click the "protection counter", and select "reset protection counter". A dialog box should open with question: "Have you replaced the ink pad?" Click yes. If the reset works, you should then get a message: "Waste counter was reset" (or something to that meaning). You can then go back and click "protection counter" again, then "counter value" which should now be zero. Turn the printer off for couple of minutes, if the lights are still flashing, then turn it back on again and it should work as usual. You can resume using the printer, but you should think about dealing with the waste ink pad.


Epson printer setup / automatic updates...

When installing any late model Epson printer - you may be given an option to register for automatic driver updates, somewhere during the printer setup process. If you tick or click 'accept driver updates' (or similar button), the printer software will download and install the latest printer driver (via internet), every time one is released by Epson. In other are giving Epson a permission to periodically adjust your printer driver and firmware.

That may not seem like a bad idea. Lot of recent hardware and software tends to update itself regularly and just about every time you turn a computer on, there's some new update waiting to be installed. So...why not update the printer driver?

Printer driver updates are different to most other software updates...

Printer updates are permanent and may include irreversible changes to the printer itself. Even if you delete the updated printer driver then re-install the original driver from CD - it won't achieve a thing. Driver update can't be reversed or deleted once installed.

Printer updates can stop hardware working. Driver update can change the ink cartridge recognition protocol and even perfectly working printer can stop working with 'ink cartridges not recognised' error - after receiving Epson update. If you're using compatible, refillable etc cartridges, continuous ink or even older Epson genuine cartridges, you're not printing anything - until the cartridges are replaced with brand new, genuine Epson ones.

Are there any benefits in installing updated printer drivers?

You may need the latest printer drivers when connecting a new device to the printer or after installing a new operating system. If the new device or OS is released at later date than the printer, the appropriate driver will not be included on your printer installation CD and you may have no choice, but to download the latest driver version from Epson.

If you're not having any issues, there's no reason to update! Driver update is not going to make your printer run any faster, it's not going to improve the print quality, it's not going to make it any more economical and it is definitely not going to fix cartridge recognition problems.

Can printer updates be enabled later...if required?

Yes...if you decide you actually do need a driver update for some reason in the future, you can always download it manually later on. Just click: File>Print>Printer Properties >Maintenance...then click the 'Driver update' button. That's it.

How to install printer driver & avoid receiving any updates.

1) Switch off or unplug your internet modem. This is optional, but recommended. If you were to click a wrong button during the setup by mistake, there's no harm done - if not connected to the internet. Just go back a step or two and change the setting or abort the installation and start again.

2) Insert printer installation CD and enter setup.

3) Select 'Custom' or 'Manual' Setup option, not 'Express' or 'Automatic'. You will get no option to un-tick (decline) driver updates if you use 'Express Setup'.

4) Click "No" in the first window (below) and "Decline" in the next. Also tick "Do not display this message again".

Note: Sample screenshots below are from an Epson Artisan 730 printer setup and other models messages will be slightly different. Principle is the same.

5) When the printer setup finishes, you can plug your modem back in (or turn it on), but make sure your virus firewall is activated before you do.

Most properly configured firewalls (including Windows) see any system update as a virus and will block it - unless you enable the update, by clicking the 'Unblock' button. Make sure to click "Keep Blocking" (as in above pic)!!!

Even if you follow all the steps outlined above, watch out for special ink offers and other attempts to sway you into registering for updates. Warn everyone using your printer - to never click any "offers" buttons (as below).

Just click "Already purchased" or simply close this window - to get rid of this message.

As you can's not all that difficult to avoid Epson driver updates - just be careful what you click.


Ink cartridge cannot be recognised is a fairly common error experienced by many Epson printer users. And receiving one of these messages can be most frustrating, because 'cartridge(s) not recognised' error usually translates into 'printer not working'. In other're not printing anything until the error is cleared.

If your printer is currently non operational - with 'Ink cartridges cannot be recognised' error (similar to above), don't panic. The solution can often be as simple as switching the printer off and on again. If that doesn't work and the problem on.

What causes 'Ink cartridge cannot be recognised' errors?

There is no simple answer to this...there can be many causes. It can mean just about anything from cartridge declared empty by the printer to outdated or faulty chip, missing or incorrectly installed (not clicked in properly) cartridge, ink on the chip or printer contacts. It can also indicate some hardware fault with the printer itself.

Note: It's perfectly normal to see 'Ink cartridges not recognised' error with almost empty/empty Epson ink cartridges.

What does 'Ink cartridges cannot be recognised' mean?

9/10 times, the 'Ink cartridges cannot be recognised' or similar message, doesn't mean there is anything wrong with the actual ink cartridges or printer. All Epson (and most other makes) ink cartridges use IC chips these days and they're used for one complicate using non-genuine cartridges, refilling ink cartridges or using a continuous ink system.

So what does 'Ink cartridges cannot be recognised' error really mean? It's your printer telling you: 'stop being difficult...get with the system...go and buy some genuine ink cartridges...and I might print again'.

Can 'Ink cartridges cannot be recognised' error be fixed?

Generally yes, unless you have received Epson driver/firmware update. If for example the printer fails to recognise one or more ink cartridges after you enabled an update, there may not be great deal can do about it, other than buy new Epson cartridge(s). Once an update is in your system, there's no getting rid of it. Printer driver update can not be removed by deleting files, programs etc. Even formatting your hard drive and re-installing the original printer driver (from disk) will not achieve anything. Why? Driver update can permanently change the printer firmware (in the printer itself) - and there is no easy fix for this. The only thing you can do at this point is disable future updates and either buy a set of genuine Epson cartridges, wait until updated compatible, refillable or CISS cartridges become available, or throw the printer out and buy another one. This time, take extra care and don't enable driver updates in the process. Find more information on Epson driver updates here.

Note: Some printer model drivers may not offer the option to disable driver updates during the set up process. With these printers, you may have to manually de-select the updates after the printer is installed and/or set up your firewall to reject/warn of any system updates trying to upload to your computer. Each printer and operating system deals with driver updates in different way, but the general principle is the same.

If you suspect your printer problem was caused by a driver update, you can confirm this by checking your Epson printer driver version. You can find it in "Printer properties" on "Maintenance" page (see below). To work with driver version 6.9 for example, you need cartridges/chip version 6.10 or higher (eg 6.12). The version # is printed on some chips, but not all. If your chips are lesser value than the driver version, there is a fair chance that a new driver or update is the cause of the loss of cartridge recognition.

Note: Even with higher value chips (than driver version), recognition is not guaranteed...but is more likely.

How to fix Epson iInk cartridges cannot be recognised' error?

Ink cartridges cannot be recognised errors not related to printer driver update, or an empty cartridge can mean that either a cartridge is not clicked in correctly, the chip is dirty, faulty, or the chip contacts (in printer) are damaged. Try following the steps below to determine which it is. Make sure the printer is powered on - unless advised otherwise.

1) Remove/install the 'not recognised' ink cartridge. Epson 'ink cartridges cannot be recognised' error can simply mean that the cartridges are not clicked in properly. Non genuine cartridges and particularly CISS cartridges can take a fair amount of force when installing - more than Epson genuine cartridges. Close the printer lid and/or press the 'Ink' button on printer - when finished. If the error disappears and the printer now says 'Charging ink' or returns to the usual 'home' display, the problem is solved. If the 'Ink cartridges cannot be recognised' message returns, try repeating this process once before moving to the next step.

2) Remove all ink cartridges and inspect the cartridge chips. If dirty or inky, wipe all chips with damp tissue then polish with dry. Fit cartridges back in printer. If the cartridges not recognised' message returns, go to next step.

3) Remove all ink cartridges, close the printer lid and turn the printer power off. Power the printer back on and fit only the originally ;not recognised' cartridge. Close the printer lid and/or press the 'Ink' button,, wait while the printer is 'checking ink cartridges' and see if it now recognises the 'faulty' cartridge. If yes, fit all the remaining ink cartridges, then close the lid and/or press the "Ink" button. If the same error returns, try repeating this process once more, before moving on to next step.

4) If you still have the original cartridge set that came bundled with your printer (or any other cartridges) try installing that set. If the error clears, this would indicate your other 'not recognised' cartridges/chips may be faulty. If the same Ink not recognised' message displays with the replacement (for same cartridges), go to next step.

5) Remove all cartridges and inspect the chip contacts (in printer). Epson printers use a series of thin gold plated wire contacts that the cartridge chip slides and presses against - when cartridge is installed. These contacts can corrode, or stick to the chip, particularly if they ever had any ink contamination. The wires can sometimes bend, or even get pulled out - with cartridge, when it is removed. If this is the case, there may not be that much you can do to fix it, other than getting the printer serviced.

Note: If you can find the missing wire contact and it's not damaged, sometimes it's possible to push it back in it's slot. It's fiddly and you need good eyes, but it can be done.

WARNING: Switch printer off at power point or disconnect the power cable before performing any printer repairs. Also be very careful not to bend or damage some other part in the process.

6) If all the wire contacts appear ok, try cleaning them with damp cotton bud or similar until they're all spotless. It is a good idea to unplug the power cord any time you're working on the chip contacts. When finished, install all cartridges back in printer, plug the power cord back in, turn printer power back on and....see what happens.

Date Posted: 20 December 2019