Why You Shouldn’t Use Generic Windows 8 Printer Drivers

Setting up printer

I’ve seen a lot of my clients struggling lately trying to get their printers connected to their Windows 8 computers. Usually they are doing this because they purchased a new computer with Windows 8 pre-installed (more likely) or they upgraded their existing computer to Windows 8 (less likely) and they want to keep using their existing printer.

Failure #1 – Using the Windows 8 generic driver

The first thing most people try to is to connect the printer to their computer via USB cable, turn it on and hope for the best. If they’re lucky, Windows 8 will find a generic or compatible driver for their printer. This may appear to work at first but usually causes strange happenings down the road.

For instance, when I got my first Windows 8 computer, I had no choice but to use the Windows 8 generic driver because Brother, the manufacturer of my printer, didn’t have a Windows 8 compatible driver yet. The generic Windows 8 driver appeared to work at first. I could click print and a few seconds later the document would come rolling out of my printer.

But one day I tried to print 20 copies of the same document and my printer gave up after about 8 copies. I also noticed I could no longer use the duplex (double sided printing) feature. Neither one of these were deal breakers but they annoyed me nonetheless.

Failure #2 – Trying to use the original printer installation CD

Here’s another example. A client of mine used the generic printer driver for her new Windows 8 laptop and once again, it appeared to work at first. But every so often the lines on her documents would get all squiggly or one line of text on a Word document would print crooked.

In some cases, Windows 8 can’t find any generic or compatible driver at which point it asks you to insert the original installation CD that came with the printer. This usually fails as well because the installation program detects an unsupported operating system. In other words, you have Windows 8 and it’s looking for Windows 7, Windows Vista or Windows XP.

Solution – Go straight to the manufacturer

Your best bet is to open up your Internet browser, head straight to Google and search for “[manufacturer] [model] driver”. Replace [manufacturer] with the manufacturer of your printer and [model] with the model of your printer. As an example my printer search would be “brother hl-5370dw driver”.

Brother HL-5370DW driver search in Google

Usually one of the first search results is a link taking you right to your printer manufacturer’s support or download page where you can answer a few questions and download the installation program you need to get the right Windows 8 driver for your printer. Try to limit your click to just your manufacturer’s website. In other words, if you are searching for a Brother printer, only click through to the Brother website.

If you’re curious, following these exact steps for each of the situations I described above, fixed the problem in its entirety.

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