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Archive for September, 2013

Can I Use Apple Devices On My Windows XP Computer?

September 23rd, 2013 No comments

While Apple computers were quite popular in schools during the 1990s, many districts switched to Windows as the years went by. This meant that many current consumers grew up familiar with Microsoft products rather than Apple. However, the emergence of popular devices like the original iPod and the iPhone meant that the tech giants had to work together in some way. This allows anyone with a Windows XP computer to connect a device made by Apple and use it properly for years to come. You can have the best of both worlds when it comes to personal electronics by mixing and matching thanks to the power of appropriate drivers.

 

What Kind of Apple Devices Will Work?

 

If you are really a fan of Apple products but want to keep your Windows XP system for now, you can utilize a wide range of accessories. All of the most popular hand held devices feature some kind of cross-platform support. The Apple support system offers numerous ways to locate the right drivers, keep them updated, and find new ones. No matter your level of comfort with modifying your computer system and its essential files, you can quickly get your iPhone communicating clearly with your computer.

 

Age Matters

 

When it comes to syncing products from Apple with Windows XP computers, the age of the device plays a big part in determining how you can do it. For example, older classic or nano versions of the iPod may not be running the current iOS program. This means they can’t work with the automated programs that sync appropriate drivers based on the connected device. However, you can still manually installed even the oldest Apple devices by retrieving the correct driver files from their database.

 

Manual Apple Device Driver Installation On A Windows XP Computer

 

This process varies for newer products, but will work well on a Windows XP system with original iPods. Have iTunes installed first and log in to your account to ensure the process runs smoothly.

 

  1. First, attach the iPod via the USB cable and see if your ITunes account will detect the device.
  2. If this fails, visit the Apple Support website and search for the Troubleshooting Assistant for your specific iPod version. This program will scan for missing drivers and other similar problems.
  3. Check if Windows is recognizing the device even if iTunes isn’t. Open the My Computer folder from your Desktop to see if it appears as a connected storage device among your CD-ROM drive and hard drive.
  4. Open the Device Manager through the Control Panel and System icon to discover if it is appearing there as well. If Windows XP recognizes the iPod, you may need to reinstall iTunes completely after uninstalling it.
  5. The oldest iPod models may require you to download and install the Apple Mobile Device USB Driver. You can find it through the Support website. This should remedy the problem if your computer isn’t properly recognizing the connected device at all.

 

Automatic Updates Are Easier

 

All computer users can utilize Apple’s built in support for driver and software updates, even if they aren’t comfortable with manual driver installation. This program is known as the Apple Software Update. If you have installed iTunes, Quicktime, or Safari you should have a functioning copy on your computer. You may have blocked it from running or accidentally uninstalled it, so a fresh install of iTunes is usually the easiest and fastest way to restore it. There is also a freestanding installer available through the Support site. Running this program will allow your computer to check for drivers when you connect a new iPhone or iPad. It will also let you know if the software itself needs updates, or if an older device has bugfixes available. You can run the updater manually at any time by selecting it from the Start Menu.

 

No Windows XP Support For iCloud

 

iCloud is one of Apple’s latest consumer ventures, but it’s not available for Windows XP users. This cloud-based service allows you to access files on Windows computers from an iPad or iPhone, and vice-versa. However, only Vista and up are supported. You can still transfer files through a USB connection or over the Internet, but not over iCloud.

 

Avoiding iTunes

 

There is a way to remove the driver files from the iTunes installation file and manually install them, but this takes registry editing and is best left to advanced users. For the average computer owner, iTunes is the easiest way to get the drivers properly installed and updated throughout the lifespan of the device. If you are comfortable with the process, you can try:

 

  1. Downloading the iTunes Setup file offered by Apple Support for Windows XP.
  2. Rather than opening the file with a double-click, try opening it with the program known as WinRAR. This will allow you to see the files within the executable. Copying out “AppleMobileDeviceSupport.msi” and “QuickTimes.msi”will provide you with the specific driver files needed for installation.
  3. Follow your preferred method for manual .msi file installation on your system.

 

Following this process will allow your computer to detect the device properly and display it in your My Computer folder. However, this may not allow you to actually access the storage for removing and adding content. You may still need a secondary program, from the manufactuer or a third party, to access your library and edit it.

 

Backup Your Collection

 

Using iTunes is also recommended because it allows you to create a backup of your entire music collection. If something happens to your iPod or your Windows XP computer, you won’t have to deal with the long process of purchasing new copies of every song you wanted to hear. Many people keep their favorite material on their iPhone as a backup for their home computer, but this will only work if the content syncs on a regular basis. Keep your Apple devices working with PCs by updating your drivers and software as soon as new releases come out.

Why Won’t My Favorite Game Play?

September 11th, 2013 No comments

Dedicated gamers often spend hours each day in their favorite virtual worlds, but even the most casual players deserve smooth play and proper display. In most cases, a well equipped and modern system will run both commercial and indie software without an issue. Completing installation should be all you need to do to enjoy a new experience. Unfortunately, numerous issues can get in the way of your enjoyment. If you can’t seem to get your favorite game to start up or run smoothly, turn to the drivers on your system first.

 

What Has Changed?

 

In many cases, gamers will play a game for weeks or even months without issue and then find it suddenly unresponsive one day. No matter the cause, you should always start the troubleshooting process by consider what actions and changes you have made most recently. Uninstalling or installing something can always trigger a host of adjustments that leave your favorite game out of commission. If you can make a complete list of all of your recent changes, you can work your way through them in reverse to see if that fixes the issue. A less time consuming option involves updating various types of software.

 

Starting With The Device Drivers

 

Few programs take as much resources up as games, and nearly all of that power is used for producing high quality graphics. Even games that are a few years old might be too much for your graphics card if it is running outdated or badly designed drivers. If you are receiving errors related to the display or if you didn’t change anything before the game stopped working, you are likely dealing with corrupted drivers. Replace the outdated versions with newer ones by:

 

  1. Clicking on the icon in the lower left corner of your window to open the Start Menu. Select the Control Panel from the right side of the menu, then double-click on the System icon.
  2. Give the Device Manager button one click to open it. Look for a heading labeled display adapters, then double click on it to expand it.
  3. Under the heading you should find at least one listing matching the name and manufacturer of your graphics card. If the information is incorrect, you may have the wrong driver installed. Driver issues may also trigger a yellow icon to appear on the listing.
  4. Double-click on the display adapter name, then navigate to the Driver tab at the top. This window should offer you automatic options for updating the driver through the Windows Update service.

 

Windows Update can only find drivers in the Microsoft database. If you can’t get updated files from the automatic process, you will need to head right to the manufacturer. Nvidia, ATI, AMD, and other consumer video card producers all provide numerous options for matching your hardware with the latest drivers. Visiting the website could give you access to a quick and small scanning program that retrieves exact information about your graphics card and why its not performing.

 

System Resources

 

Games also tend to fail because there simply aren’t enough resources to support it while running. This is a problem that tends to occur most after a fresh installation, but it can still pop up after weeks of successful play. Opening the Task Manager and watching it as you start the game can help you discover background progresses that are sapping your memory or processing power.

  1. Open the Task Manager by pressing the Alt, Ctrl, and Delete buttons all at once. A small window should pop up immediately.
  2. Click on the various tabs to monitor how your system responds to the start up process. If you see spikes in the CPU usage or memory usage during start up, this may be crashing the application without creating error dialogs. This appears like the game simply can’t run. In some cases, you may just need to shut off your antivirus software or turn off a few programs to get the game going once more.

 

Unless you have recently installed a program that runs in the background or contracted a computer virus, you should not experience sudden losses in system resources. Any sudden strain or slowness should be investigated promptly.

 

DirectX Errors And Issues

 

Once you know your display drivers are up to date and your hardware is running properly, you need to rule out problems with DirectX. This is a programming interface designed by Microsoft that game designers use to ensure a wide audience of players can access their content. These program files need to be installed and maintained separately of any games that rely on them. If you aren’t sure what version of DirectX you are running or signs of problems with the system, it is best to go ahead and update to the latest package. 9.0C is the last version that works on Windows XP, so using Windows Update to install it is the best way to avoid accidental downloads of versions that aren’t compatible with your operating system.

 

  1. Open your Start Menu, then click on All Programs. Look for a Windows Update listing at the top of the menu, then click it once.
  2. Click on “Check for updates” and allow the program to run. If you don’t have DirectX installed, the files will be downloaded.

 

Viruses and corruption can leave you with DirectX installations that don’t work. If you suspect this problem, consider uninstalling first and letting Windows update download a fresh package. This can only be accomplished with a full formatting and fresh installation from a recovery disc. DirectX files are a crucial system component, so it is not possible to remove them without a full system wipe. However, serious problems may require this kind of fix.

 

Installing the latest service packs for Windows XP is also recommended if you suspect DirectX issues with games. Each service pack includes numerous safety and security updates for these kinds of system files. You may be surprised to find that a game that won’t work suddenly installs and runs fine after you go through the process of updating to SP3.

Ten Steps To Take When Buying A Used Computer

September 5th, 2013 No comments

All students need personal computers to complete homework or research assignments, but a home desktop or laptop is often out of the budget for their family. If you are interested in buying a used device, you could find a perfectly good system for less than half of the retail price. Even dedicated gamers and big companies buy computers used when they need to stick with a specific budget. A used system can run just as well as a new one, but only if it is in good shape to begin with and prepared properly before you begin using it.

 

1. Check The Value

Before you trust a stranger on Craigslist or even a family friend that you are getting a good deal, do your research. That computer from 2010 may not be worth even $50 if it was a bargain model then. You can easily find used models selling online from auction websites to gauge its current value. Even if the device was worth quite a bit five years ago, modern models may offer just the same features for less than the seller’s asking price. Ensure that you are actually saving money by shopping for used systems.

 

2. Compare Your Needs

Buying an inexpensive computer to run a specific program will backfire if that unit lacks the memory or storage to handle it. For example, many students need to run the free version of Microsoft Word to complete their assignments. If you buy a computer with only 256 MB or even just 1 GB of RAM, it may be too sluggish for proper use. Even complete newcomers to computer lingo will need to check the system requirements of their favorite programs before going shopping. You don’t even have to know exactly what 1 GB of RAM is as long as you know you need it for your game or image editing software.

 

3. Research The Hardware

Investigate any upgrades or specific pieces of hardware used in the system before agreeing to the purchase. The graphics card could be from a manufacturer that has dropped support, which makes it impossible or very hard to find the drivers without an original disc. However, you may be surprised at how easy it is to find unusual driver files. This is one reason it’s relatively safe to purchase used computers today.

 

4. Gather Your Software

Many older devices built more than two or three years ago feature Windows XP. This was one of the most popular versions of the operating system, so many programs still designed today are compatible with it. Check for compatibility with all of your favorite software to ensure that the installation process runs smoothly when you do purchase the device.

 

5. Consider Upgrades

Even if the unit is a little slower or less well-equipped than you would like, you may be able to save money over a new computer by buying used and upgrading. Spending $50 on a better graphics card could still save you hundreds over a system that already has the specific model built in. This is best left to computer users that are comfortable opening their cases and working on their systems. If you aren’t sure how to install memory upgrades, heading to a local repair shop ensures the work is done correctly the first time.

 

6. Test Drive It

Ask the current owner for a test run before you put any money down on a used computer. Buying sight unseen devices can easily lead to disappointment. Shopping in person with local sellers tends to be easier because you can boot up the computer and check for serious errors or other malfunctions. For example, the device drivers might be missing and causing display and rendering problems. Spending just a few minutes on the system will give you a heads up about issues you will be responsible for fixing once you complete the purchase.

 

7. Investigate The Device Manager

Opening the Device Manager during your test drive can show you if the graphics card has gone bad or if the hard drive drivers were corrupted. You can find this informational panel by:

 

  1. Clicking on the Start Menu button to open it, then selecting the Control Panel.
  2. Double-click on the System icon, then press the Device Manager tab.
  3. Scan the list of installed or attached hardware items for yellow caution signs, which will feature an obvious exclamation point. Spotting this will tip you off to driver problems or issues with the hardware itself.
  4. Double-click on any specific listing to find out more details on the errors detected by the computer system.

 

Not all hardware issues will cause notifications in the Device Manager, so don’t be afraid to pass on a system that is acting oddly even if there are no warnings listed in that window.

 

8. Reformat The System

Cleaning out the hard drive and installing a new version of Windows XP is generally recommended, even if the seller has done so before putting the device up for sale. You will need to locate all of the crucial system drivers before beginning the process. It will take an hour or more to complete reformatting and fresh installation, but this ensures that the private data of the previous owner is wiped away before you start using it.

 

9. Consider Changing The OS

Even if you love Windows XP, installing a different operating system could help you make the most of the limited memory and storage of an older computer. Look for compatible drivers before making the leap to something like Linux or Ubuntu, which could be a little hard to find for some equipment.

 

10. Run An Anti-Virus

The cleanest systems can still harbor keytrackers, spyware, viruses, or malware. Reformatting should be followed by a complete antivirus scan before you add any of your personal files or access your email and online banking information. Don’t take unnecessary risks when buying a used computer and could save quite a bit of money while getting the power and speed that you need for your daily tasks. This is especially important if you have a young learner who will be relying on the device for their school work.

Categories: Performance, Troubleshooting, XP Drivers Tags:

Rolling Back To A Previous Driver

September 3rd, 2013 No comments

Computer owners that are trying to keep a new system running smoothly from day one are often told by well-meaning friends and experts to always check for driver updates. In nearly all cases, this is perfectly good advice. Installing the latest versions of the software offered by the manufacturer is a good way to keep the devices communicating clearly with the rest of the system. Most driver updates get rid of bugs or improve security, but it is always possible that an update causes a problem rather than fixing one. If unwanted or unexpected errors have been popping up since you installed a specific file, you may need to rollback to a previous driver.

 

Why Do Drivers Need To Be Rolled Back?

 

In a perfect world, every software update is complete and only remedies issues with the corresponding hardware. Unfortunately, this isn’t a perfect world. Many Windows XP drivers are released and cause serious issues before the manufacturer realizes there is a problem. A specific piece of coding could lead to all sorts of problems that didn’t arise during the testing phase. It is almost impossible to test for every system and setup before the files are released. In far rarer cases, drivers may be damaged or infected during the downloading process.

 

Rolling Drivers Back The Easy Way

 

Your computer should be able to restore the previous version of the device driver fairly quickly. Windows XP stores the last version before any updates in case something goes wrong. Complete the process by:

 

  1. Clicking on the Start menu button to open it. Click on the Control Panel listing to the right, then double-click. This should open the Control Panel folder.
  2. Find the icon labeled System, then double-click it. At the top of the screen, click on the tab labeled Hardware. Locate the Device Manager button and give it a click.
  3. Pick through the list of installed hardware until you find the device experiencing driver issues. It may be highlighted with a yellow caution icon or appear completely normal. Double-click on the listing for the corresponding hardware.
  4. Select the tab at the top of the screen labeled Driver. There will be a button entitled Roll Back Driver near the bottom of this window. Clicking it begins the process, which should take only a few seconds.
  5. Follow any on-screen prompts to restart your system or disconnect and reconnect the device.

 

Try this process first when driver updates seem to cause issues. When the process succeeds but the problem doesn’t go away, you may have an issue with the hardware itself. Reinstalling the driver won’t help if your printer is malfunctioning or out of ink.

 

Going Further Back

 

This automatic process will only restore the last driver version installed before your most recent update. For some errors, it may be necessary to go back two or three versions. This must be done manually. Most users will find that the Roll Back Driver button becomes grayed out and unusable after one roll back. The process only records copies of one former installation. If the system can’t find proper files, the process will fail. A pop-up will appear stating that no backup files were found. In both cases, you will need to manually uninstall the latest driver update and do a clean installation of your preferred driver version.

 

Manual Removal Of Misbehaving Drivers

 

When Windows XP doesn’t have any options for rolling back your drivers, you can always uninstall the problem files and start fresh.

 

  1. Open the Device Manager again by using the above instructions. Locate your problem device in the list.
  2. Right-click on the device’s listing and select the Uninstall option. Windows will ask if you are sure about your decision – only select Yes if you have the replacement driver files ready to install and the hardware is not essential to the functioning of the computer. Uninstalling files for hard drives or commonly used ports should only be handled professionals.
  3. Disconnect the device from the computer. Start your installation process from the beginning with your preferred driver files.

 

You may also have better luck by uninstalling the drivers through a software package from the manufacturer. Checking your Add or Remove Programs window could help you quickly wipe out unwanted updates.

 

  1. Open the Control Panel from the Start Menu. Double-click on the Add or Remove Programs icon.
  2. Check the list for a software package provided by the device’s manufacturer. Most video and sound cards now come with these programs to make installation easier and more thorough.
  3. Select the right list item and double-click on it to begin the automatic uninstallation process. Pay careful attention and note the locations of any files not removed, which may include drivers. You can go in and manually remove them when the program is completed.

 

Don’t Always Uninstall

When some computer owners learn about the uninstallation process for drivers, they decide to remove older versions before each update. However, this defeats the purpose of having a backup for rolling back. If you discover an issue with the newest version, you must go through the lengthy manual work rather than just hitting a button. Leaving older driver files intact ensures that Windows XP can quickly restore order to your system when unexpected errors start to pop up for a specific component.

 

Removing All Driver Files

 

While the manual uninstall process through the Device Manager won’t wipe out every driver file, it does remove the associations that make it hard to install an older driver version. It is rarely necessary to completely eradicate all .dll or .inf files associated with a specific device. If a virus infects the drivers for your system, your antivirus software should quarantine them before deleting. This allows you to copy down the file names and find replacements before you actually approve their full removal. Installing replacements as quickly as possible eliminates the chances of data loss or other serious problems that occur when system files are damaged.