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The Scariest Office Copier Ghost Stories

Brad Samuel

Imagine you are working at your desk one day and your new printer suddenly starts printing a page that says, "Hello. I am your printer. I have become self-aware. Run." 

Spooky, right? That is exactly what happened to a Houston-area man a few years ago. It turns out the man’s 18-year-old neighbor noticed the man had a new — and unsecured — wireless printer. Without password protection to the wireless network or printer, it was easy to force the machine to print anything he wanted.

Of course, this kind of thing is not a real office haunting. (It is, however, a cautionary tale about why it is important to secure all your technology and devices, including printers.)

In fact, in over sixty years of servicing office copiers, printers and multifunction devices, I am not aware of any actual haunted office, ghost or poltergeist. However, there are some real and possibly unsettling phenomenon that can haunt any office printer, scanner or copier.


We’ve certainly had customers tell us their machines have a mysterious squeak that never presents itself when the technician is there. We’ve even had a small rodent meet its demise near or inside one of our machines (its only happened twice that I know of).

But one thing that happens occasionally is called “image ghosting.” This is when someone picks up a copy or print off a machine and sees a faint, ghostly image on the page. This is what happens when a residual image appears on a copy or print and usually the culprit is a malfunctioning imaging drum unit.

When a drum unit comes to the end of its useable life cycle, it may not discharge properly, leaving behind faint traces of the previous printing job. In some cases, humidity or using the wrong paper type can all play a role in ghosting. But if your drum or fuser unit is not heating the toner powder correctly, ghost images can appear when printing.

The good news is that his kind of issue can be prevented with good maintenance. At GFC, all service calls require that the Service Technician not only respond to the issue identified by the client’s call for service but also provide a quality assurance check. The quality assurance check examines all elements of the equipment to determine the need for additional service or parts along with manufacturer recommended preventative maintenance cycles. This process for service ensures the maximum equipment uptime and minimizes lengthy downtime.

It can also make sure you never face a ghosted image on any of your prints, no matter how heavily your machine is being used.  


Of course, we’ve all been in an office or working at home when the printer would just start printing stuff and you’re the only one there. Or phones would ring and ring but when you answer, no one’s on the other end. Or even lights that flash on the intercom, but no one was around. Those can be some dicey nights if you’re working late or all alone.

We can’t explain all of the phenomenon, but I can tell you that one way to make sure your printers behave is a Managed Print Service (MPS). With MPS, you can enable controls to ensure documents don't start printing until the user is there to collect and prevents unapproved usage. Users print to a single global queue, walk up and collect prints at any device. Administrators centrally manage and have full visibility of device activity from anywhere with browser-based administrative tools. That means no spooky surprise, but also less wasted paper, less unauthorized printing and more secure offices.

GFC's professional service technicians can help any organization maintain a printer fleet with preventative maintenance. If you’d like to discover the benefits of a service and support program for your organization, contact us today or check out our Guide to Managed Print Services.

Intro to Managed Print Services Guide CTA

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