Unbricking a HP LaserJet M1212nf stuck in an “initialization loop”

I recently helped to repair a bricked HP LaserJet M1212nf printer that was stuck in an “initialization loop”. It booted up normally, but after 10-20 seconds the printer stopped to accept any kind of commands and the text “initializing” was shown on the LC-Display. It then restarted and the whole boot/init started over again and again.

My first approach was to make a hard reset, i.e. set the printer to factory defaults. This can be achieved by:

  1. Turning off the printer
  2. Pressing and holding the “Start Copy” and the “Cancel” button. (Easy, both are below each other.)
  3. Turning on the printer

After setting the initial configs (language, country) the initialization loop reappeared —  the problem was not fixed by the hard reset.

Next, I tried to reinstall the latest firmware which failed due to the loop — there simply was not enough time to upload the firmware I would guess.

I then tried to find out if there is some kind of low level bootloader that would accept a firmware image (many devices nowadays have such a semi-failsafe mode) when the printer is turned on — but did not find any info on that either.

My final approach was just to try out if there would be a firmware upload possibility right after a hard reset (steps as described above). I had recognized that the initial settings/configs right after a hard reset were not affected by the reboot loop. To my surprise this actually worked. I was able to upload the firmware when the first init-setting appeared. After updating the firmware the loop was gone and the printer worked again as before.

I hope this description helps others who are also affected by this problem as I have not yet seen any other solution in the HP forum. I can only guess how the “initializing loop” occurred: maybe an automatic firmware update failed and bricked the printer. Anyways, the 200+ MB printer driver software by HP is a PITA and their web site is a maze…

6 thoughts on “Unbricking a HP LaserJet M1212nf stuck in an “initialization loop”

  1. How did you upload the firmware without the loop disconnecting the connection to the computer? The printer only appears connected for a couple of seconds before the loop starts again. Then the software crashes when the printer is gone. Plus, it is the firmware that created the loop. How did the same firmware resolve it?

    • Hi Susan! I had noticed that, after a hard reset, the loop did not appear immediately. For some reason the printer let you enter some basic settings without interruption. It was only after the initial configuration that the boot loop reappeared. So: this time frame right after a hard reset can be used to trigger a firmware update (via PC).
      I can only speculate why the boot loop occurred. My best guess would be a corrupted image on the printer (either through a previously failed firmware upgrade or due to corruption on the printer itself). Re-installing the image might have overwritten the corrupted parts. The printer is still working without any issues.

  2. Thanks. So right after I boot, the green light (power) blinks, the language and location question appear. Then a few seconds later, the Initializing begins and the amber light starts blinking. Are you saying those few seconds were enough to load firmware? It is only a few seconds later that the loop happens. I am not sure the computer even sees the printer (via usb) in those seconds when the language and location questions are there.

    I am sure it is a corrupt image from bad firmware that they should have removed from their website years ago considering the hundreds who have complained (meaning thousands affected).

  3. The application of the fix was already two years ago, but as far as I recall I triggered a firmware update (with the Upgrade utility via USB) right after the hard reset, when the first life sign (I think that was ‘initializing…’) appeared. Then I started keying in the initial configuration. In the described case there was just enough time to transmit the firmware update via USB. — Kai

  4. Thanks. I must have a different variation of this problem then – one more like what most other have encountered. I even tried using a Windows 7 computer instead of a Mac (although the Mac has an actual firmware utility while Windows does not). The computer tries and tries to load the software, but cannot because of the computer continuously attaching and detaching with the loop. Hard reset doesn’t do anything to the timing, in my case, even if I haven’t selected the language, the loop takes over, and then it is a matter of seconds again until the reset (which crashes the Mac application). Thanks for your info. Helpful to know what you tried.

  5. I must be missing something. I’ve gone as far as hard reset as well, issue persists, but only is connected to the network and grabbing an IP address.

    There is no USB port aside from the printer to PC USB connection on these printers. This seems to be a really common issue with the M1212nf, as I have five or six that are doing this, but only when they are connected to the network, which sadly is a critical element.

    If disconnected from the network, it boots up fine, but obviously completely useless for more than one computer.

    I’ll have to research how to update the firmware, HP hasn’t provided that info to me as of yet.

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