Archive for February, 2007

Vista Driver Problems – How to Troubleshoot

February 24th, 2007 No comments

Are you having errors, struggling with your computer locking up, or even seeing the “Blue Screen of Death”? If you are running Windows Vista, the problem can probably be attributed to a third-party driver that is faulty. The device drivers that come with Microsoft Windows Vista have a digital signature that tells you that the driver has met a certain level of testing and that it has not been altered. Any hardware that carries a “Certified for Windows Vista” logo om it will come with drivers that have a digital signature from Microsoft which indicates that the product was tested for compatibility with Windows Vista.

That being said, not all third-party hardware manufacturers are willing to take the time and effort to submit their products to Microsoft for certified testing and aren’t really interested in having the digital signature from Microsoft assigned to their drivers. Because of this, uncertified drivers are a big problem for Vista users.

Lucky for you, Windows Vista comes with a great utility called “Driver Verifier Manager”. It is not a new utility, (it came with Windows 2000 and Windows XP) but the version that comes with Vista has some new features which make it easier to use.

Vista comes with two versions of the Driver Verifier Manager — a command-line version and a GUI (Graphical User Interface) version. This tutorial will cover the GUI version.

Once enabled, the Driver Verifier Manager will go to work in the background and will perform a series of extreme stress tests on the selected driver(s) in an attempt to cause the driver(s) to fail. (The tests that the Driver Verifier Manager performs will occur as you use your system over time,under normal circumstances. It might take some time to identify a problem, if there is one at all. Don’t expect immediate results.)

If the driver does fail, it will cause a BSOD (Blue Screen of Death) and a “Stop Error Message” that will contain information that you can use to determine and eliminate the problematic driver. If after a few days, the driver doesn’t fail and cause a BSOD, then the driver may not be the cause of the problem. Either way, you will have to disable the Driver Verifier Manager once you are done troubleshooting. ***Once you enable it, the Driver Verifier Manager will remain active in the background until you disable it.***

To launch the Driver Verifier Manager, click the Start button, type “Verifier “in the Start Search box, and press [Enter]. When you do, you’ll encounter a UAC (User Account Control) and will need to respond accordingly. You’ll momentarily see a Command Prompt window and then the Driver Verifier Manager will launch and display a wizard-based user interface.

The “Create Standard Settings” option is selected by default, and in most cases this option is the best way to start. When you use this option, the Driver Verifier Manager selects a standard set of driver verification options. (If you later decide that you want to perform more specific tests, you can select the “Create Custom Settings” option, which will display all the available driver verification options and allow you to select the ones that you want.)

Remember, when you are done troubleshooting, you need to to disable the “Driver Verifier Manager”. To do so, use the “Delete Existing Settings” option.

Selecting the “Display Existing Settings” option will show the driver verification options that have been activated and will list the drivers being tested.

Once you enable it, the Driver Verifier Manager remains active and performs its stress tests in the background. If you select the “Display Information About The Currently Verified Drivers” option, the Driver Verifier Manager will display statistics on the utility’s current actions.

The Driver Verifier Manager provides you with several options for choosing which driver you want to test. Usually, it is the unsigned drivers which are most likely to be causing you problems. Select the ” Automatically Select Unsigned Drivers” option and click “Next”, you’ll see only those drivers installed on your system that are not digitally signed by Microsoft. If there aren’t any unsigned drivers, an error message will appear.

If you suspect that signed drivers designed for a previous version of Windows may be installed on your system and causing problems, select the “Automatically Select Drivers Built For Older Versions Of Windows” option. If you select this option and click Next, you’ll see a list of drivers that are digitally signed by Microsoft but are designed for previous version of Windows — most likely Windows XP. If there aren’t any signed drivers for an older version, an error message will appear.

While not really a very sensible option when it comes to standard troubleshooting practice, you can select the Automatically Select All Drivers Installed On This Computer option. If you select this option, the Next button will change to Finish and you’ll be prompted to reboot your system. (As a general rule of thumb, it is better to troubleshoot a single or a small set of possible problems as it will be easier to determine the cause.)

If you want to see all the drivers installed on the system and be able to pick and choose which ones to test, choose the “Select Driver Names”

Select the “Automatically Select Unsigned Drivers” option and click “Next”. Here is where you will see the list of drivers installed on your system that are not digitally signed by Microsoft. Next, click “Finish” and then restart your system.


How to Download and Update Your Drivers

February 10th, 2007 No comments

There is a big difference between updating and downloading your drivers.

You know the CD that comes with your speakers or mouse? That contains the drivers to your device. They have to be installed on your computer to let your computer “talk” with the device. Sometimes, that driver can become corrupt. This would be a time to reinstall the driver. (Either from your CD, or by visiting the manufacturer’s website and entering your device information and downloading the driver) Another time you would need to install the drivers from the CD is if you are going to use your device with another computer. Again, either install the driver from your CD, or download it from the manufacturer’s website.

To update your drivers means that the manufacturer has come up with a new version of the driver. Maybe there is a problem that they have heard a million complaints about and they have found a fix to it. Your CD will not have this update on it. To run an update, you need to visit the manufacturer’s website, identify your device, download the file and install it. You will be amazed how much better your device runs, and in many cases, also your computer as a whole. For this reason, instead of using my CD, I always check the manufacturer’s website to see if there is a more current version of the driver that I need.

What if the manufacturer has shut down or no longer supports your device? Search for “your device name” and “driver” and you’ll find many 3rd party websites that will have the driver you need available for download. These websites keep a big database of drivers, both from new and non-existing computer hardware manufacturers. The drivers offered by these websites are usually free software downloads. While some sites may require membership fees, that’s a minimal amount you have to invest to have unlimited driver downloads from the site.

Categories: XP Drivers Tags:

Do I have USB 2.0 on my Windows XP computer?

February 8th, 2007 No comments

How you can tell if you have USB 2.0 on your computer, and why it matters:

If you plug a USB 2.0 device into a USB 1.1 port, Windows XP will display a warning message indicating that it will drop back to the slower data transfer speed. (USB 2.0 clocks in with a data transfer speed of 480 Mbits/second compared to USB 1.1′s 12 Mbits/second.)

1. Right click on “My Computer” and select “Properties.”
2. Select the Hardware tab and click the Device Manager button.
3. When Device Manager appears, click the + sign next to the Universal Serial Bus Controllers branch.

If you see an entry containing the words “Enhanced USB Controller”, then the system has a USB 2.0 controller. If you see an entry containing the words “USB Controller”, the system has a USB 1.1 controller.

Note: This tip applies to both Windows XP Home and Professional editions.

Categories: Troubleshooting Tags: ,