Last year I bought my inlaws a Chromebrook primarily out of frustration with the constant issues they seemed to find themselves in with the PC I gave them. I'm not one of those people that blast Microsoft for these problems - the issues were definitely user error. However, their support surface area needed to be drastically reduced. They didn't need a full computer. They needed a browser, so a Chromebook seemed to make a lot of sense.
Fastforward a year and everything has worked out very well except for a few minor usability things like an external monitor and waking for sleep, etc. but we've found workable workarounds for those things. However, printing on a Chromebook (much like any other platform) was a continuous pain in the ass. My personal solution to printing is very effective and simple - I don't print things. This isn't a workable solution for our parent's generation. I knew this going into the Chromebook decision, but I had high hopes that Google Cloud Print would be a savior. It was not, but to be clear the issues I've been having are not the fault of Google Cloud Print or the Chromebook. It actually turned out to be the Brother printer I bought for them (HL-L2340DW). This, like all the other Brother devices I've bought over the years is actually quite good, but the firmware I was running had some issues. Google Cloud Print was working after initial setup and then would stop. I would be support calls saying printing wasn't working and I would refresh the WiFi connection on the printer and the system would come back alive. They've had WiFi issues in their house for a long time so I falsely assumed that was the culprit. After several iterations of this, I moved the printer back into the closet where the WiFi router lived and plugged it in via the USB port. I thought I had it solved and told the inlaws they had to deal w/ that logistical inconvience.... except the problem persisted. This was the first clue I had that the WiFi wasn't the problem.
I noticed that each time I went to fix the problem the printer was reporting to be in "Deep Sleep". After some googling I found that there were several reports of this problem that all seemed to be centered around this Deep Sleep state. My new working theory was that the built in power savings mode in the printer was causing it to loose connectivity with the WiFi and never able to restore it. In fact, I couldn't seem to get it to wake from Deep Sleep at all. Rebooting was the only thing that seemed to wake it up and after doing that it was disconnected permanently from the WiFi. As one might expect with a problem of this nature, a firmware update reported this problem to be fixed. Here are the steps I followed to apply this update and I can report that this indeed fixed my issue:
- You need to download a firmware updater tool and run it from a PC or Mac (the inlaws Chromebook wasn't going to work).
- Plug the printer into your PC or Mac via USB before running the updater tool. Perhaps there's a way to do this wirelessly, but in my case I did it wired.
- The tool will work you through the update process and once complete it will reboot the printer
- Get your printer's IP address on your network. There's a few ways to do this
** You can print the network settings from the printer itself using the LED and hard buttons
** Go to your networker router and find the IP address in the DHCP table or static IP address listings. If you go this route, as I did, I would recommend giving the printer a static IP address rather than DHCP. My gut tells me this will jive with the Google Cloud Print service much better. And while you're in there you might want to allow connections from the printer and authenticate by mac address so that you don't have to mess with SSID's and passwords. If you're struggling to find your IP address, you might want to use the printer's LED + hard buttons to find the MAC address and then use that to find the IP address in your router's web interface. IN my case, the printer's host name was some cryptic string I didn't recognize. I found it by MAC and from there found the IP address.
- Fire up your browser and log into your google account. Do this to ensure you have a fresh auth token with Google and navigate to the Google Cloud Print administration page for your account.
- Delete any pending or queued print jobs you might have in your Google Cloud Print account.
- Open a new tab in your browser and navigate to http://#.#.#.# (where #.#.#.# is your printer's IP address that you looked up in the steps above). This will take you to the printer's administration web interface.
- From here we need to re-register the printer with the Google Cloud Print service. The official documentation for doing this is here. The crib notes are:
** Click the Network tab
** Click the Protocol tab
** Ensure the Google Cloud Print checkbox is checked
** Next to the Google Cloud Print checkbox click the Advanced Settings link
** If you've register this printer with Google Cloud Print before (like me), then like the Unregister button. In my case, things still didn't work after the firmware upgrade if I didn't re-register the printer like this. Your experience might differ, but I would recommend doing this just to remove troubleshooting variables.
- Now flip back to your other browser tab where the Google Cloud Print admin web is running. Delete the printer from your account.
- Now flip back to the Brother administration web page tab and click the Register button that should be displayed after the Unregistration process finished.
- After the Registration process in the Brother admin page, flip back to the Google Cloud Print tab and after clicking the Refresh button you should now see your printer
- Finally print something to test out the connection
I'm in the process of testing the printing process over a period of a few days to ensure the sleep issue is truly gone, but everything looks good so far. Hope this helps someone else out there.