Troubleshooting login at devices

I am PaperCut administrator and users are reporting that they are unable to log into copiers/MFPs with their ID card or badge (swipe card authentication). How should I go about troubleshooting this?

This page will help guide you to troubleshoot issues authenticating at a copier/MFP/MFD running the PaperCut embedded application. We strongly recommend involving your PaperCut partner to assist with troubleshoot this issue as they are experts in 3rd party hardware including copiers and card readers. You can find their details by logging in your PaperCut Admin console > About tab > Support Info section.

For more information on Card Readers specifically, have a look at Common Questions about Card Readers.

Device “cannot connect to server” error

The exact wording of this message may vary depending on the make and model of the device, as well as the version of firmware or PaperCut embedded application, so we can’t tell you what the exact wording of this error will be. However it will generally be some variation of “Cannot connect to server”, “Connect timed out” or “Device connection timed out”.

Unknown card/ID number

You might see the following message in the PaperCut Admin console > Logs tab > Application Log tab:
Unknown card/ID number entered on an external device. Card/ID No:xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx”.

This screenshot highlights a card ID number reported in the Application log tab. It’s showing an Unknown card/ID number because this card number is not linked with any relevant user in the Users tab. You can also check this by using the Quick Find filter under the Users tab.

If the card number you see in the Application log tab doesn’t look right. Eg. it has leading 0000s like 00001234 instead of 1234, then check out the ‘My card reader is reading numbers in a format different to my records. How can I change the format?’ section on Common Questions About Card Readers?

Invalid pin number

This means PaperCut doesn’t recognize the pin number that the user is entering at the photocopier screen. The user can have their pin reset if they forgot what it is. You can do this from the PaperCut Admin console > Users tab > select the username > Details tab > scroll down to the “Card/ID PIN (digits only) field. The field hides the real pin number, so you can re-enter it.

Alternatively, the users can change their own PIN by logging into the PaperCut user interface with their account. Before doing that, the system administrator will need to enable the ability to change their own pin. This can be done by logging into the PaperCut Admin console > Options tab > General tab > tick the checkbox “Allow users to change their card/ID PIN” and then scroll to the bottom of the page and select Apply.

Also, go to the PaperCut Admin console > Logs tab > Application Log tab to see if there are any errors being shown there to help troubleshoot.

The error message received is Invalid Authentication

This error message is shown on the photocopier screen when a user tries to authenticate.

There are a few questions we can ask to help narrow down the issue further…

  • Is this affecting just user or all users? If it is only one user, there’s a chance that they might be set up with the wrong card number inside PaperCut, so that might be worth double-checking by logging into the PapeCut Admin console > Users tab > select the username and confirm their details (password & pin id).
  • Is the user able to successfully login with their username and password? If so, it points to an issue with the card reader, or the user’s card ID number in PaperCut. If not, then maybe there is a problem with PaperCut authenticating users. For the next step see if the user can sign into the user web interface (http://<your-papercut-server-hostname>:9191). If not, then there may be a problem where the user either doesn’t exist in PaperCut, or PaperCut is not able to authenticate this user with the User/Group Sync Source (like Active Directory or G-Suite).
  • If the details for the user looks correct in the PaperCut Admin console > Users tab, there could be an issue with the card itself that it might not actually produce the number you think it does. Depending on the card reader you might be able to plug it into a computer and open a text editor, like a notepad. Then swipe the card. It should show the numbers the card actually thinks it is. We can get your PaperCut partner who supplied the card readers to help with troubleshooting this.
  • Log into the PaperCut Admin console > Logs tab > Application Logs. This page is great to see what sort of errors are coming up when a user attempts to authenticate.

I swipe but nothing happens at all

My swipe card beeps as if it receives the card data, but the MFD interface doest not react? This includes checking if swipe card is enabled and other basic checks.

  • Power-cycle the card reader by unplugging it and plugging it back in.
  • Ensure to check the Swipe card configuration is set up in PaperCut? Card self-association allows a user to associate their card with their account without needing any administrator assistance. More details in this knowledge base article: Authentication Methods.
  • If this was working previously, what changed? Did I update the PaperCut server/embedded application/copier firmware, or have any networking changes been made recently such as a new router or firewall rules?
  • Am I using the correct Embedded App version and a supported card reader? Your PaperCut Partner should help you determine if the card reader model is supported for that specific device.
  • Is the card reader firmware up to date?
  • Did this stop working after updating the embedded app? We wouldn’t expect this to happen, but if it does we certainly want to know so we can help troubleshooting.
  • Set aside the card reader for a moment and try logging in with just the username/password. If that fails, it could be that their account is disabled, their username and password expired. If authentication is only failing for only for domain-joined user accounts, See: Troubleshooting ActiveDirectory Authentication

  • Is this card reader an RFIDeas 241? Try configuring this device for Client Mode (as opposed to Generic Mode) for the best performance. This was added in our PaperCut version 17.2.3 and the advantage of using this mode is that it can provide greater stability of communications on a network that may be flaky or unstable. See: Network Card Reader Technical Overview.

Is this an intermittent problem?

Is this an intermittent issue? Or does it only seem to happen during the busiest times of the day? This could just be a sign that the PaperCut server, database, or Site Server is running into a performance issue and is having trouble handling the load.

We recommend following the steps in our article Troubleshooting and optimizing Server Performance to resolve the issue.

“The Laptop Test”

These can be complex problems to troubleshoot. One thing we can do to narrow down the scope of possibilities dramatically is what we call “The Laptop Test”.

This generally involves…

  • Installing PaperCut MF on a spare laptop (usually the same version as what’s running on the server).
  • Going to the vicinity of the copier and connecting to the same network.
  • Adding that specific copier to PaperCut MF on the laptop.

So, what will that tell us?

If the laptop can connect to the device… then we at least know the device is compatible with this specific version of PaperCut MF and the hardware is configured correctly. There could be a network or firewall issue preventing the device from connecting to the real PaperCut MF server, or the main PaperCut server is misconfigured in some way. Many times SSL or certificates can be a factor.

If the laptop can’t connect to the device… then we’re not sure if this device is compatible with this specific version of PaperCut MF and we can’t be certain that the hardware is configured correctly. There are thousands of types of devices that can connect to PaperCut across over a dozen brands of printer, so we rely heavily on the expertise of our PaperCut Parters to help us determine if this device can be supported.

Categories: Troubleshooting Articles, Authentication

Keywords: mf-only