Almost every printer built in the past 30 years or so has built-in memory of some kind. In fact, today, most devices are as complex as any other computer on your network, or your mobile device. They include hard drives, operating systems, system memory, and even applications. Actually, your printer not only has the same capabilities as your other devices, but they also pose the same risks to your network’s security!

Why Printers Need Memory

Your printer uses memory and storage to help print faster and more efficiently. Memory allows your device to receive complete, ready-to-print files from your computer as fast as your network allows, so even if your computer slows down, your printer won’t!

Like any other computer, printers have both RAM (volatile memory) which clears when the device is powered off, and non-volatile memory, like a hard drive, which stores data until it is deleted. To purge volatile memory, shut down the device, and unplug it for at least a minute.

Non-volatile memory is more concerning. For example, if you just printed a confidential document. Most printers use memory in a configuration known as a “circular buffer.” Data is sequentially written in the memory until it gets to the end, then it starts again at the beginning.

Eliminating Printer Memory

Before returning a leased device or disposing of an old system, make sure to purge any and all personal information. Your MFP may have saved print logs, documents, scans, or faxes on the hard drive or in the memory. To reset your printer, turn it on, unplug it for at least 15 seconds and then plug it back in. That should clear the device.

For home printers, if you printed copies of your credit cards, and now you want to sell your printer on eBay, you need to print enough non-personal information to use up the entire circular buffer. On a business-level device, this can take a while. For most home devices, printing 5 to 10 complex documents like photographs should do it!

More advanced MFPs often have an internal hard drive as well as memory. Before returning your device, check with the manufacturer to see if it’s possible to wipe saved data, or remove the hard drive to protect your information.

Want to learn more? Call us today and let us show you how to protect your personal data, or add additional security features to your printers.