I've just about had it with Hewlett-Packard and their Photosmart C6180 All-in-One. One of my biggest problems can be found on HP's IT Resource Center forums, in replies to "Photosmart C6180 - the usual problems". There are at least dozens of people reporting the same driver-related problems with this device, probably affecting hundreds of users. I bought mine new off the retail shelf less than a year ago, and HP doesn't seem to give $0.02 about any of our problems, even after countless emails, online chats, phone calls, and escalations. (Though the HP software has progressed from version 7.x to version 9.x in that time, only the 7.x version is still compatible with the C6180, and not even a service release has been made available.)
Many of the problems are related to the network support, particularly with scanning. I've already decided that fighting with the full scanning support usually isn't worth the time, but this problem isn't related to the scanning. (And for the moment, even after this ordeal, the scanning appears to be mostly working!)
I was just doing nothing out of the ordinary under Windows XP, and noticed that Explorer (the shell) was terribly sluggish. Opening a new "Windows Explorer" window took 30+ seconds. Interestingly, the desktop icons usually remained active, while the taskbar would appear hung. Other applications appeared unaffected.
On anyone else's computer, I'd suspect malware (viruses/worms/spyware/etc.). I did a few checks just to make sure nothing was amiss. My current user account was a non-administrator, and even running as another test user had the same disappointing results.
There are a number of issues that can cause Windows Explorer to "hang", which almost all take some time to diagnose and fix, if even possible without a new user profile, or in extreme cases, a reinstall of Windows.
After a bit of experimenting, I finally started stopping and disabling some of the Windows services. Stopping and disabling the "Net Driver HPZ12" finally fixed the hang issue. Interestingly, there is also a different "Pml Driver HPZ12" service that I was able to leave running without any noticeable issues.
This page now has over 1,300 page views, and is currently the most visited post on this blog! (If only HP would take notice, and just fix the issues...)
I feel obliged to mention, I've found new hope for my HPC6180 as I was working on my Ubuntu Linux Router Upgrade Project. Not only is the printer functionality comprehensively supported, but also the scanner, and apparently even the fax! While I'll share the details in a future post, the make and model configured in my "Printer configuration" applet shows as "HP PhotoSmart C6100 Foomatic/hpijs, hpijs 2.8.2.z". The scanner works with the "XSane Image Scanner" (0.995) applet.