Brother laser printer has stopped printing
Before reading this post, you should probably understand that I dislike printers. Be they Brother printers, HP, Epson or from the factories of any other manufacturer, I’m not a fan of any of them. I’d rather not have one in the house at all.
So why do I dislike printers? Sometime around 1998, I got a job in IT (that morphed into an SEO job). It was my job to visit clients and fix their IT issues. Roughly 80% of IT issues are related to printers. The reported problem was always the same:
“The printer used to work fine, then it just stopped working”Every computer owner on earth
Printers don’t work. They don’t. I have no idea how an entire industry has thrived by selling products that simply don’t work. Don’t get me wrong, a brand-new printer might work for a little while, but it will stop working. Probably when you most need it.
So why do I own printers? The simple answer is that I’m a parent, and kids need to print stuff for school, or hobbies or to ensure that their parents spend a big chunk of their income on printer consumables.
I have owned many printers over the years and apart from one old HP Mono Laserjet that lasted for years, every other printer has crapped the bed and given up just a couple of years after being spat out of a factory.
But enough of my moaning, let’s get into this ‘connecting to lan’ problem…
The LAN problem on our Brother hl-l3210cw
After 18 months of ownership and around £200 in toner refills, our Brother hl-l3210cw stopped working. This has happened before when something our home network changed, so the first thing I did was press the green WiFi button on the printer control panel.
After several minutes of waiting, the small LCD readout on the printer displayed a message informing me that the attempt to connect to find a WiFi network at ‘timed out’.
Connecting to LAN timed out – the troubleshooting process
- The computer next to the printer had a full-strength connection to our WiFi, so I know the network is fine.
- None of our devices can see the printer, so the issue is related to the printer, not the computer next to the printer.
- When I search for WiFi networks on any other device I can see around 15 networks, all owned by our neighbours, none with a ‘hillarious’ name like ours.
- I switched off the printer and it think about what it’s done. Then realised it can’t think without electricity so I switched it back on.
- I printed a network status page from the printer, this informed me that the WiFi process had failed. Well duh.
- The Brother website recommended updating my drivers, which is somewhat challenging if you connect the printer to the network/lan.
- I wandered around our house looking for other devices that appeared to be struggling with the network and found out that our smart meter was also disconnected. Bum.
Time to introduce my Pi-Hole
For privacy and to protect my family from the darker side of the Internet, I have a device called a Pi-Hole running on my network.
The Pi-Hole filters network traffic and blocks things we don’t want coming onto the network, or going out from our network. I have added some devices on our network to bypass the PiHole. For example. our Google TV won’t operate if it is ‘filtered’ by the Pi-Hole.
The Pi-Hole acts as the DHCP server on the network, which is all good and groovy. Usually I have no problems with every device being traffic-filtered by the Pi-Hole.
So I logged into the Pi-Hole and added the Brother hl-l3210cw to the filtering exclusion list. I added it via MAC address (not IP address), so it should survive any shifts in what IPs the DHCP hands out.
I also added the smart meter to the exclusion list while I was in the Pi-Hole interface. The smart meter started working again. Great.
The printer did not start working again. Not great.
The solution to our Brother hl-l3210cw timing out on connecting to plan
I had to entirely disable my Pi-Hole. This solution is not good for many reasons. My wife asked if we could simply switch off the Pi-Hole when we want to print. Sadly this wouldn’t work because when the Pi-Hole is switched off you need to configure another device to act as the DHCP server (the ISP router for example).
The Pi-Hole only filters traffic out of, or into our LAN from the outside world. It shouldn’t be filtering internal traffic. My assumption is that when we print from a Mac to the Brother network printer the Apple Bonjour printing service needs to go out to the web for some reason. Or maybe the Brother hl-l3210cw needs to go out to the wide web when printing from a local (lan) device.
So this issue is resolved but in a crap way. Do you have any better ideas? Let me know in the comments section!
Last Updated on March 4, 2023
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