How to factory reset a Brother HL-2170W printer

13 July 2016 by Lincoln Ramsay

I have a Brother HL-2170W printer. It’s great, and has been quietly getting on with it’s job for years.

But yesterday, I went to print something and it didn’t work. The printer has been running wirelessly because even though it now sits near the router, it used to be half a house away and I never bothered to change the configuration. But now it didn’t show up on the network at all.

I upgraded my router on the weekend… so I figured maybe it got confused and just needed some kind of reset to be able to connect again. I plugged in an ethernet cable but it quietly ignored it. Hmm…

I searched and found a guide to get the wireless going. The first thing it suggested was to do a factory reset. That sounded like a good idea. But it had no effect. Hmm…

So I started trying ever-more desperate options. I confirmed the printer was still operational by printing over USB. I confirmed the ethernet wasn’t burned out by running tcpdump (the printer sent a BOOTP probe at boot, but then it turned off the ethernet port).

Just as I was starting to feel hopeless, I stumbled onto a page telling me how to factory reset the printer. It was different to the instructions on the other page. Here is how you factory reset a Brother HL-2170W printer.

  1. Turn the printer off
  2. Hold the Go button
  3. Turn the printer on
  4. Wait for the LEDS to come on (this was near-instant for me)
  5. Release the Go button
  6. Press the Go button 7 times

The incorrect instructions told me to press it 10 times, which caused the printer to reboot and then print a test page. But crucially, the settings did not reset.

Of course after doing a factory reset, the ethernet came up properly so I could connect to the printer and configure the wireless again. I found a setting where you could set the ethernet or wireless as the only interface. I may have disabled ethernet back when I first setup the printer (explaining why it turned the port off).

As a bonus, I noticed the plethora of (probably insecure) services the printer was offering to the world. I turned them all off because nobody even accesses the printer directly anymore. The iOS devices need AirPrint and the Windows 10 devices need to be rebooted (!) if the printer runs out of paper during a job. So everybody connects to CUPS on my server now.