PCL XL error on HP 4050's

Reinhartlaw used Ask the Experts™
This past month we have been receiving printer errors. The first one, users have been calling in with this pop up that says "Interactive Detection Services". It doesn't stop them from printing or doing anything so we are able to close it. The problem we're starting to have now is that out HP 4050 printers are starting to print out this error:

PCL XL error
Subsystem: IMAGE
Error: IllegalAttributeValue
Operator: ReadImage
Position: (Always different)

We have other 4250's and 4350's that don't receive this error. After much googling, many say it's driver issues. We have already tried applying the most recent PCL6 UPD to them which does nothing. Some suggested to change the "Print Data Optimization" in the printing preference, which did nothing. Since their on the print server, if we setup direct IP printing to the printer, it prints fine. Others suggest to install the PCL5 driver, which in the long run will not work out since from reading, it does not like to print certain things on word documents.

Wierd thing is, certain PDF's will print out the error, some emails will print out fine, some not. (Always with a different "Position: #"

We are starting to get more and more calls about this so any suggestions would be much appreciated.

Thanks in advance!
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We have a lot of old 4050s.  I use PCL5 on all of them and haven't had any issues.  I use the HP driver NOT the MS update one on XP but I use the MS driver on 7.  I have had a lot of issues with PCL6 drivers and HP printers.  We direct IP print to the printers.  Have you checked to make sure the Jetdirect firmware is updated?  It has some serious security holes that allow hackers to reflash the card.  I'm not sure what the symptoms are of a reflashed card.
Have you tried switching to a post script driver or will that not work for you?  Also i am curious about how the print server is the one throwing the error as if you print direct it is fine, this usually means the driver is somehow corrupt on the print server.  I take it you are printing over ethernet?


Joel: I'll double check the Jetdirect Firmware.

R_Edwards: You are correct, we can't use Post Script. All printers are networked. I might have confused things. The "Interactive Detection Services" errors are random and a seperate issue aside from the PCL error.. As of right now, i'm not sure if they are connected with the PCL errors.
PCL XL errors are reported because the printer believes that the print stream is corrupt in some way.

The printer is able to do this because the PCL XL language (the 'official' name for PCL6) is very highly structured - so any departure from this structure is relatively easy for the printer to recognise.

The reason for a corrupt print stream could be:

A badly written, or corrupt printer driver.

This is more likely to be the case if the error is consistently exactly the same (including the Position value) for the same input (i.e. the same document, within the same application, being printed again via the same driver).

Corruptions are being introduced between the PC and the printer (for example: bad cable, connection, port, network, etc.).

This is much more likely to be the case if the errors are intermittent and apparently random.

A fault within the printer itself.
Probably much less common - usually (but not only) if Jetdirect card is bad.

If the errors are apparently random (indicating corruptions possibly caused by hardware faults), then attempt to identify the culprit by a process of elimination: replace components (one at a time), starting with the most obvious: cables, connectors, ports, cards, etc.

If the errors are consistently the same (indicating a possible driver fault) you could switch to a different driver, which uses a less-structured Page Description Language (PDL) like PCL5; if you do this:

You will not get PCL XL errors.
But other PDLs may sometimes generate different error messages.

If the PCL5 interpreter detects an invalid sequence, it just ignores it, and then carries on the best it can, but no error messages are usually produced - exceptions to this are things like 'Out of Memory' errors, but these can also occur with valid streams.

PostScript probably sits in between PCL5 and PCL6 in terms of how easily the language interpreter in the printer is able to detect corruptions in the print stream, and react to them by generating PostScript error pages.

You may still get corrupt output.
This could be very noticeable, or hardly noticeable at all, depending on the degree of corruption, and just where it occurs in the print stream.

PCL5 can usually 'recover', by 'synchronising' on the start of the next escape sequence, but other PDLs may not be able to do this, because it is more difficult, or impossible, to find something unique to 'latch on' to - hence they tend to abort the print, and produce an error report.


In the end, for all our 4050's we have switched them to the UDP PCL5 driver and have been printing successfully. These printer will eventually be phased out so this will work for the time being. Thanks

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