Archive for August, 2013

How To Reformat An Older Computer

August 29th, 2013 No comments

Cleaning out your attic or garage could reveal one or more older computer systems that you have forgotten you own. These computers may run Windows XP or another older operating system, but they can still be put back into service with a little work. Even the smallest hard drives can be utilized for extra storage and backup space. You can also donate unwanted electronics that still run to schools and other educational resources that need devices for teaching word processing and research skills. Before you put your old computer to a new use, consider reformatting it. This process will remove all of the old data and help the system run at its best.


There are a number of ways to reformat a Windows XP computer. If the desktop or laptop is more than five to six years old, it is likely that the manufacturer did not develop drivers for supporting a newer operating system. It is best to reinstall XP rather than trying to upgrade to Windows 8 in most cases. You can use your original recovery or backup discs if you still have them. For computer owners without these tools, other options range from simple to advanced.


Using The Windows Backup Disc


Nearly all consumer and business computers sold through the big name electronics retailers came with discs containing the operating system and all native drivers. If a component of the computer required a driver to run properly, it would be included on that disc. Most were labeled Windows XP Recovery discs. If you can find the original discs and documentation provided by the manufacturer of your older computer, reformatting is very simple. However, don’t let a missing CD stop you from working on the system and preparing it for reformatting. These discs won’t include the files needed for any printers, game controllers, fax machines, or other devices connected to the system.


How To Discover What The System Needs


Taking on the challenge of finding the necessary drivers is easy when you follow the right steps. Try this troubleshooting guide to discover the files your computer needs after reformatting:


  1. Examine the computer for a model number. Most manufacturers give their products model names and codes, but a serial number is usually the best option for in-depth information. Visit the manufacturer’s website and check out their Support section. For example, has a Support program that returns the specifications and necessary driver files for download on any computer if you provide its model number.
  2. If the system drivers aren’t available on one page, find the name and model number of each component and search for it separately. A sound card made by a popular company should have download files available from that manufacturer. You should be able to find at least a PDF file of the manual for the computer with a simple search, so use that to determine which parts rely on drivers and which are natively supported by Windows XP.
  3. Spend extra time focusing on additions like wireless adapters, modems, graphics cards, card readers, and visual output ports. These parts tend to need their own driver files, while most hard drives and motherboards are less likely to need specific files that aren’t provided with Windows XP.


Saving Your Files


You will need to remove all of your files and information from the computer before beginning the reformatting process. The reinstallation of a fresh copy of Windows XP will clear the hard drive. You can create a partition to preserve content on the same computer, but most computer users will be more comfortable with data transfer. Try an online storage service or use an external hard drive that connects via the USB port. Don’t forget the bookmarks from your browsers, game save files, or passwords that are recorded by your browsers for your favorite websites. Be sure to delete sensitive or personal information during your preparations to ensure it is completely erased in the process.




You will need a copy of the Windows XP operating system on a disc in order to complete the process. This could be your Recovery Disc or a new license purchased from Microsoft. You will need the disc and the corresponding product key before beginning. When you are ready:


  1. Check that your computer manufacturer does not offer operating system restoration support through the Internet. Many companies do this instead of sending out Recovery Discs, so your model number and original product key may be all you need to begin reformatting.
  2. If you aren’t using an automated system from your manufacturer, open your CD drive and insert your disc. Turn off the system and start it back up again.
  3. You should see a blue screen as the computer boots which states “Press any key to boot from CD”. Pressing a key will allow the computer to boot the operating system installation program on the CD. Follow the on-screen prompts to complete the reformatting process.
  4. Do not create a partition during the process if you are attempting to wipe the system for security or to get rid of a virus.


If this sounds difficult or overwhelming, there are also some programs that can streamline the process.


Starting Up Again


Your computer may have issues with the display or sound output when it first starts up again after reformatting. Wait to connect periperhals other than basic input devices until you have the system drivers loaded again. Keep driver discs and downloaded copies of other needed files on hand so they can be installed immediately.


Check For Infections


If you chose to reformat due to a virus or malware infection, run your antivirus scanners as soon as the system is running again. Scan all incoming files and programs before uploading them as well to ensure you aren’t just reinfecting the system. New downloads can be retrieved straight from the manufacturer’s website once you manage to get the reformatted system ready to access the Internet.

Categories: Performance, Troubleshooting, XP Drivers Tags:

Why Did My Device Suddenly Stop Working?

August 27th, 2013 No comments

It’s a sad but true fact of life that your printer, scanner, or other computer device is most likely to stop working right at the moment you need it the most. Scrambling to discover why your connected peripherals are no longer recognized by Windows XP can increase your stress when you are already under a heavy workload. To keep your homework assignments or work presentations running smoothly, learn the right ways to troubleshoot issues that cause the computer to report a device not working.


Check For Simple Issues


Always start by double checking that a very simple problem isn’t the culprit. For example, try disconnecting and reconnecting any cables between the device and your computer. Many times a USB plug or printer cable is simply loose and unable to properly communicate between the two pieces of equipment. You may even need a new cable if there is physical damage to the exterior. Try connecting the device to another computer to discover if it is the printer or your operating system. If your scanner or camera simply won’t power up at all, it is unlikely that the problem lies with the drivers or software.


Dealing With Common Problems


Once you are sure that the device itself is still functioning properly, you can proceed to discovering the disconnect between the computer system and the peripheral. In many cases, a simple driver issue is the cause. The files are easy to lose, move, accidentally delete, corrupt, or overwrite. Uninstalling something unfamiliar in your computer’s “Add or Remove Programs” window could lead to speakers that no longer emit sound or a flickering black and white monitor. There are a few basic steps to take to find out if you are experiencing Windows XP driver problems.


 Start With The Device Manager


As with nearly any task involving Windows XP drivers, your work will begin with the Device Manager. Accessories that worked well at some point in the past may or may not show up in this window. If the device driver was not successfully installed in the first place, you should definitely see warning signs. Open this tool by:

  1. Click on the Start menu button at the lower right corner of the screen, then click once on Control Panel.
  2. Double-click on System, then click just once on the Hardware tab. You should now see the Device Manager button, which also needs a click.
  3. The Device Manager window will display all of the devices currently connected to your computer. If they are installed, an accurate listing should be found under the correct categorization. Devices with detected driver issues will display a bright yellow icon with an exclamation point in the center. Look for the device that is not responding and double click on it.
  4. If there was an issue detected, the window that appears may have a button labeled “Reinstall Driver” near the bottom. Clicking it will open the Hardware Wizard, which connects you to Windows Update for automatic driver updates.

 Replacing Missing Or Corrupted Drivers


Checking the database provided by Microsoft for Windows XP may very well solve your problem. Manual installation is also possible. It may be the better option if you have visited the manufacturer’s website and they offered an updated file to deal with issues with previous driver versions. In other cases, you may need to rollback a driver to a previous version if the newest updates introduces issues.


Manual Device Driver Updates


When you are ready to install the latest and greatest update to the drivers, start with the process listed above. Open the Device Manager through the Systems window, then double-click on the device in question and hit “Reinstall Drivers”. Then:

  1. Click on “No, not this time” when the Hardware Update Wizard requests a connection to Windows Update.
  2. Choose the “Install from a list or specific location” option on the next page. Click next.
  3. Use the first option and the subsequent file location browser to point the wizard to the files you have downloaded. Uncheck the “Search removable media” option unless you have the files loaded on a CD or DVD.
  4. Hit Next and let the wizard handle the installation process for you.

Rolling Back Drivers And Restoring Your Settings


It is immensely frustrating when your printer or external hard drive was working just fine yesterday, but it won’t respond today. If you just updated or reinstalled the drivers when the problem occurred, try rolling back to a previous version:

  1. Open the Device Manager with the above instructions. Find the driver you are experiencing issues with and double-click on it.
  2. Select the Driver tab and click on the “Rollback Driver” button. This will allow the computer to search out the previously installed file and use it once again.

Sometimes the older driver files are simply too corrupted or were accidentally deleted, making them impossible to reinstall. You can also try restoring your system to a previous point if you had Windows XP System Restore Points enabled when the device was working. To give this a shot, try:

  1. Start the process in the Administrator profile for the system. Open the Start menu, then navigate through the Accessories menu to find the listing entitled System Tools. Click on this, then click on System Restore.
  2. Selecting the “Restore my computer to an earlier time” option will allow you to bring back deleted system files and restore registry settings that might be interfering with the device.
  3. Choose a save point from a time when you know the device was working properly. Run through the rest of the menus and allow your system to restart.
  4. Check to see if it functions properly again on the newly booted system. If not, use the on-screen prompts to reverse the restore point.

It’s unusual that a device will need a full uninstallation and fresh installation to start running again. In most cases, you can use the steps above to solve driver or registry problems in just a few minutes. Be sure to solve any virus infestations or hard drive errors that might be leading to corruption and damage of your driver files.

What To Do When Windows Update Can’t Find Drivers

August 21st, 2013 No comments

Investing in a new peripheral or upgrade for your trusty computer is always exciting. However, even the most well prepared computer owners can face a daunting set of challenges when trying to get their latest device to communicate properly with their laptop or desktop. Only a handful of very simple devices, like USB flash drives and input devices like keyboards, are natively supported. Windows XP simply doesn’t include the drivers needed for a wide assortment of optional accessories. Your computer may attempt to locate these files automatically, but many computer owners are left stumped when that process fails.


How Windows Update Works

When you attach a peripheral to your computer, the operating system will recognize it and attempt to discover what it is and what type of files it needs to run. If the device is recognized properly and the drivers are already present, you won’t need to do anything else. Unrecognized or supported attachments will usually triggers the Windows Update program to run the Hardware Update Wizard. A window will appear to help guide you through the installation process. Windows Update requests permission to search Microsoft’s database for compatible drivers, which is a good step to try. However, only a handful of devices can be installed this way because there are simply too many manufacturers and items for the database to cover them all.


Error Messages

If trying the online search through Update fails, don’t despair. There are many other options for locating appropriate drivers if your device didn’t come with an installation disk or detailed instructions. Start with a visit to the manufacturer’s website. Unless your item was built decades ago or the company has disappeared, you should be able to find drivers through their website. Start your search by visiting pages designated for support. You may need to get the model number of your equipment before you can properly utilize the support system, since most manufacturers need to know the exact model you have to connect you with the right drivers. Unfortunately, many drivers provided by manufacturers are simple files, not automatic installers. Trying to install these files on your own is a little more complicated than just double clicking on them.


Using Windows Update For Manual Installation

Computer owners that find the drivers they need and download them can utilize Windows Update again to streamline installation. One of the fastest ways to bring up the window is to reattach the unsupported device, but you can also access it without having to remove and reconnect the device.


Try these steps:

  1. Click on the Start menu by navigating to the Windows logo located in the lower left corner of your screen.
  2. Click once on the Control Panel tab to open it. Double-click on the System icon, then click on the Hardware tab.
  3. Open the Device Manager and wait for it to load completely. Your unidentified equipment should appear somewhere in the list with a yellow warning icon next to it with an exclamation point. If it doesn’t, try disconnecting it and reconnecting it.
  4. Right click on the name of the device, even if it doesn’t match the actual name of the item, and click on Update Driver. You can also simply double click the name.
  5. The Hardware Update Wizard should immediately open. Follow the same process as you originally tried, but choose to look for the driver on the local hard drive rather than letting Windows search for it online.
  6. When the file dialog window opens, navigate to the folder that holds the downloaded driver file and select it. Windows should then open the file and begin installing it. If an error occurs during this process, you may have an incompatible driver file.

Alternative Installations For Printers

Printers, digital cameras, webcams, and scanners often do not appear in the Device Manager. If you are trying to install one of these items and you can’t seem to locate it with the following steps, don’t panic. Windows XP often handles the drivers and settings for these items separately, depending on how the device is recognized. You may need to visit the Control Panel again and try a different approach.


For printers (including all in one models with scanners and fax machines):

  1. Open the Start Menu once again, then find the Control Panel tab and click on it.
  2. Double-click on the Printers and Other Hardware icon. Look for the tab labeled Printers and Faxes and select it with a click. Locate the printer that you are trying to install. It may be represented by a generic icon with a yellow caution icon on it. Right click on the icon and select Properties from the menu that pops up.
  3. Select the Advanced button, and click on New Driver to open the Add Printer Driver Wizard. This program works in the same way as the Hardware Update Wizard, so follow the instructions for the previous installation method starting with step five.
  4. If your device isn’t shown when you open the Printers and Other Hardware window, look for “Add Device” on the left side to initiate the basic installation process.

 For scanners or cameras:

  1. Open the Control Panel once again by utilizing the Start Menu. Find the icon labeled Scanners and Cameras and give it a double-click.
  2. Find the device you are trying to install, or reconnect it if the computer isn’t recognizing it yet. Double clicking on the icon should open the Scanner and Camera Installation Wizard, which again runs in basically the same fashion as the original Hardware Update Wizard.
  3. If your device isn’t shown when you open the Scanners and Camera window, look for “Add Device” on the left side to initiate the basic installation process.

Your printer or camera may have specific software in addition to the Windows XP drivers that is necessary for transferring files. Check the manufacturer’s website to be sure that there are no additional files needed other than the drivers.