How long will your printer last? We can tell you

Printer reliability

Sooner or later, most machines with habitually moving parts suffer some kind of mild (or severe) fault – and home printers are no different.

They have moving nozzles, paper feeders and might even have a scanner on a belt: all prime candidates for mechanical breakdown. If you’re in the market for a new printer, make sure you pick a model from a brand with a good track record for reliability.

Printer reviews – all the latest printers rated for speed, print quality and more

How long will your printer last?

We surveyed over 6,000 printer owners to find out how they rated the printers they currently own, plus any they’d owned over the last five years. This allowed us to compare all the most common printer brands to see which were the most – and least – likely to develop a fault within five years of purchase.

What our survey said

Our survey suggests that just 64% of printers will survive five years of ownership and use – a less than promising statistic. However, the gulf between our most reliable brand (Canon, 72%) and least reliable brand (Kodak, 40%) shows why it’s so important to buy from a company that builds printers to last.

The results indicate that paper jams and issues with the paper feed are perhaps the most common causes of printer faults, making up 15% of all reported problems. Other faults revealed in our survey include print head failure (10%) and ink jet issues (9%).

We also found that more modern printer features, such as wi-fi connectivity, were far from immune to faults: 10% of the issues reported in our survey can be put down to problems with printing over a home wireless connection.

Of course, buying a reliable printer is only half the battle – you’ll also want to make sure you buy a model that produces top-quality prints and that uses ink efficiently. Check out our Best Buys page to find out which printers deliver top results.

What can I do if my printer develops a fault?

If your printer steadfastly refuses to print, there’s still hope – you can exercise your rights under the Sale of Goods Act. Read our guide to returning goods that develop a fault to find out more.

More on this

Which? Best Buy printers – find out which printers aced our tests
How we test printers – a brief overview of our exhaustive tests
Extended warranties – how to shop smarter when buying a high street warranty

Categories: Printers

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3 replies

  1. One issue that affects faster printers never seems to get mentioned. The ink expelled during head cleaning is collected in a tank full of absorbent sponge. Fill this tank and your printer is dead. The ink fouls the rollers etc.
    Clean it – not easy and you get a short extension.
    The answer is to empty the tank and replace the sponge. However the only instructions for my cannon was a you tube vidio in Japanese and the replacement sponge is not available from the manufacturers UK site.

    I tried to find an independent repair but the cost was not far off a new machine. It could easily have been made genuinely replaceable

  2. Guess my printer is an exception……It’s the original printer that I bought and it’s well over ten years….and yes, I do use it frequently. On my third PC, but this one printer is still going strong. Sure, it doesn’t have the ‘bells & whistles’ that a new one does, but hell, if it prints, and reliably, isn’t that what it is all about? You’re probably curious about it, so — it’s an HP photosmart 7150 — and yes, I can still get ink for it (on ebay) at a very reasonable cost.

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