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2015.12.07 Envious of the HP Envy 5642 Printer

posted Dec 7, 2015, 4:06 PM by Troy Cheek   [ updated Dec 7, 2015, 4:06 PM ]
A couple of months back, I needed to do some scanning and printing for a nephew.  No problem, as I had my trusty Kodak All-In-One Printer.  Except that in the month or two since the last time I'd printed anything, the Kodak had decided it no longer knew how to print yellow.  What had probably happened was that some ink had dried in the print head.  While the old HP printers I'd been buying for years had print heads built into the ink cartridges, the Kodak had permanent print heads.  This made the ink cartridges cheaper, and the whole point of the Kodak printer was that it was going to save me money on ink.  Of course, I always knew there was the chance that the print heads would give out on me, which is why I ordered a replacement off Amazon a long time ago.  I just checked and the order is still "pending."  I hope they never try to fulfill it, as I'm pretty sure that credit card hasn't been valid for years.

Not printing yellow was kind of a big deal, so I searched quickly for a replacement printer.  I figured one of the same model would be cheap and common since it was several years old by then.  Instead, I found them to be quite expensive and rare.  A little more searching revealed why:  Kodak had stopped making printers.  The few which were still on the market were something of a collector's item.  Oh, well.

A little more research and a quick trip into town netted us the HP Envy 5642 All-In-One Print, Copy, Scan, Photo, Web, Make Your Coffee In Morning Printer.  It was quick and easy to set up, did the job we needed it to do, and didn't even cost that much.  It's much faster and cheaper than the old Kodak (which has now been donated to a family friend who needed to scan but didn't need to print color).  Don't go looking for it, though.  The 5640 series has already been replaced by the 5660 series, apparently.

Is all fine and well with the HP Envy 5642 All-In-One Printer?  Well, it was until just a couple of days ago.  I bought a USB 3.0 hub, which plugs into one of my two (2) available USB 3.0 ports in the back of the computer and gives me four (4) ports up front where I can actually use them.  However, the hub came with no drivers, as it wasn't supposed to need any.  What that actually meant was that it was supposed to work with the drivers available from Microsoft.  And I had a moment of joy as Windows 7 did indeed find and install the drivers for the new USB 3.0 device.  This feeling of joy came crashing to a screeching halt as Windows declared it could not find drivers for the new USB 2.0 device of the same name.  I rebooted a few times, unplugged and replugged the cable, but the result was either that Windows could not find drivers and failed to install the USB 2.0 device, or Windows declared that the Unknown Device needed no drivers and have been successfully installed.  In either case, the end result was a USB 3.0 hub which was not backwards compatible with USB 2.0 devices.  That wasn't too bad, since I had numerous 2.0 ports available all over this and other computers.  It was just the thought of a USB 3.0 port that didn't support 2.0 like it was supposed to bothered me.

I searched the web, downloading various drivers for the USB ports on my motherboard and for the chipset in the USB hub.  In my haste, I forgot to set a System Restore Point before installing the drivers.  I guess I'm lucky any of my USB ports still work.  But aside from one reboot where my keyboard and mouse stopped working, things went along surprisingly smoothly.  Then I made the mistake of downloading some kind of "driver manager" which was supposed to scan my system and download the drivers I needed automatically.  As soon as I started installing it, I knew I'd made a mistake.  I kept asking me if I wanted to install other helper programs, search bars, browser extensions, etc.  I declined, declined, declined, and eventually used the Task Manager to just kill the installer program.

It was too late.  Several "Potentially Unwanted Programs" had installed themselves, which goes to show no matter what anti-malware software you have running, it won't protect you from what you install yourself.  Armed with my Anti-Everything USB drive, I went to work exterminating the programs that installed themselves every time I rebooted or left the computer alone for a few minutes.  Eventually, I got a handle on it.  The last problem was something that somehow that tells Firefox to load a file instead of a webpage every time it is launched only if pinned to the taskbar.  I still haven't found that, but I did figure out how to pin without it.

Fixing all that took a couple of days.  Somewhere along the line, I needed to print something.  I couldn't.  No error message, mind you.  The print job queued up normally, then just disappeared instead of printing.  I figured between all the drivers and uninstalling programs and clearing of registry keys I'd messed up the printer.  No problem.  I still had the original installation files for the printer driver.  A quick re-install and... Still nothing.  An updated version is available on the website.  Download.  Nothing.

Long story short, it turned out that I was not the only one with this problem, which quite possibly had nothing to do with the USB hub, drivers, or malware.  I was unique in that my printer worked at all in the first place then suddenly stopped working.  I tried all the suggested fixes and finally found one that worked.  While Windows 7 had no trouble locating, downloading, and installing the drivers for the HP Envy 5642, it turned out the solution was to install the drivers for the HP Deskjet 6980 series.  The procedure is as follows:

How To Add An Alternate Driver:

  1. Click on your Start menu
  2. Select Devices and Printers
  3. In the Devices and Printers folder right click on your HP ENVY 5640 and left click on Printer Properties
  4. Left click on the Advanced tab
  5. Left click on New Driver
  6. When the New Driver window opens just hit 'next' until you see a list of Manufacturers on the left and a list of Printers on the right.
  7. Select HP as the Manufacturer on the left
  8. Select Deskjet 9800 as the printer on the right. If Deskjet 9800 doesn't appear than select 'Windows Update' on the bottom left and once the update completes you will be able to select Deskjet 9800.
  9. After selecting Deskjet 9800 hit next to complete the New Driver Wizard
  10. Under the Printer Properties window select 'Apply' but don't hit OK
  11. Select the General tab
  12. Rename your printer back to HP ENVY 5640
  13. Hit OK
  14. Lastly, right click on your HP ENVY 5640 one more time and left click on Printing Preferences
  15. Left click on the Paper/Quality tab
  16. Left click on the 'Normal' dropdown for Print Quality on the bottom right and change this to Fast Normal
  17. Hit Apply and OK
Once that works, you go back again and select the HP Deskjet 6980 series instead because it allows the automatic two-sided printing.  You might be able to select that driver to start with, but I'm not taking any chances now that I have my printer working again.  Why am I listing this here?  Why not just bookmark the solution?  Well, I found this solution on exactly one (1) webpage in the entire world wide web, and I just know if I have this problem again in the future after I've forgotten how to get this printer working, that page will have changed or become unavailable or something.

Incidentally, this hack is only supposed to fix cases where the printer can print most things but not from Microsoft office products, implying a problem with the Microsoft products.  In my case, nothing including Firefox or Notepad++ could print, in addition to Microsoft office products and Windows 7's own "Print a Test Page."

Now that I have the printer working again, I forgot what it was that I wanted to print.