When HP Instant Ink disables subscription printer cartridges

Illustrating the HP Instant Ink subscription service

HP Instant Ink provides a subscription service that saves the owners of  HP printers money and the problem of running out of ink. Well and good but many subscribers don’t know that  if you cancel your subscription, HP disables the cartridges remotely even if they still contain ink. Of course, that cannot happen if the printer cannot connect to the web.

What is HP Instant Ink?

Launched in 2013, Instant Ink is a service that provides HP printer-owning customers with a convenient and cost-effective way to buy cartridges. Customers pay a monthly fee based on the estimated number of pages they need to print.  The cartridges monitor their ink levels and the printer places an order for replacements when the ink levels are low. According to HP the subscription service  is up to 70% cheaper than buying standard cartridges.

HP Instant Ink subscription payment plans

The following HP website provides the various subscription plans for Instant Ink.


What happens if you cancel an Instant Ink subscription?

HP promotes Instant Ink heavily wherever appropriate online and in computer stores, but but what is  rarely made clear is that  if you cancel your subscription, your cartridges are disabled remotely  — even if they still contain ink.

This means that you will no longer be able to print with the cartridges that HP sent you, and you will replace them with store-bought standard new cartridges. The subscriber of Instant Ink is also required to send the disabled cartridges back to HP or you may be charged a fee. The way HP sees this is obviously that you obtained cheaper ink by using the subscription to Instant Inks, which you have opted out of, so you are no longer entitled to use the ink you obtained as a subscriber.

Unsurprisingly, there are many complaints about this state of affairs on social media from customers who are saying that they were not made aware of it when they signed up for the service.

An Instant Ink subscriber having her ink cartridges cancelled

A woman from Kent in England who subscribed to Instant Ink when she bought her HP printer five years ago, chose a plan to pay around $1.99 a month. However, when she gave the printer to her elderly father, she cancelled the service as he would only need it very rarely. She had no idea that the service  cancellation would result in the cartridges being disabled online in spite of containing plenty of ink.

How to disable HP Cartridge Protection?

HP Cartridge Protection  is enabled by default when you sign up for Instant Ink, but you can disable it if you want to use other cartridges.

Cartridge Protection marks genuine HP cartridges  so that they cannot be used in another printer if stolen. It does not stop refilled  cartridges or alternative cartridges from working in the printer.

Be aware, turning off Cartridge Protection only makes the printer not mark HP cartridges as protected.  Turning off Cartridge Protection will not allow cartridges that have already been marked as protected in a different printer to be used.

There are two ways to disable HP Cartridge Protection, depending on whether your printer has internet features or not.

If your printer has internet features…

Open up a web browser and enter your printer’s IP address on the web address.
This will open up the printer’s Embedded Web Server, click on the Settings option and to the left hand side select HP Cartridge Protection.
Make sure you select Disable HP Cartridge Protection and click Apply or Save if necessary.

If your printer does not have internet features…

Locate the Devices and printers option on your computer’s Control Panel.
Select your HP printer, click on the Cartridge protection tab in the HP toolbox.
Select the Disable cartridge protection option and save.
Note that disabling HP Cartridge Protection will not affect your Instant Ink subscription or enable you to use disabled cartridges. You will still need to buy new cartridges if you cancel your subscription.

This means that you will have to buy new cartridges to replace them, and send back the disabled ones to HP. Note well: customers should also know how to disable HP Cartridge Protection if they want to use other cartridges in their printer. The following link provides the instructions in order to achieve that aim:


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About Eric 275 Articles
I am an experienced PC technician who has been the owner and sole writer of the PC Buyer Beware! website since 2004. I am learning all the time in this very dynamic, ever-changing field.