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Getting To Know The Device Manager

December 5th, 2013 No comments

Control The Device Manager

Taking charge of your computer requires you to get familiar with the tools provided by your system. Windows XP gives users a chance to manage their hardware and the driver files needed for it through the Device Manager. While this is far from the only tool used for driver troubleshooting, it is the most powerful one for basic tasks and beginners. Try finding the device manager and learning about it before you need to make a change to the system because of an error or an unresponsive device.



Accessing The Device Manager

Finding the program itself can require a few different methods. Use the one you are most comfortable with. If you have never used the Run function or the command line, start with the Start Menu route.

Start Menu Access

  1. Hit the Start Menu button found in the lower left corner. Once it is open, click the Control Panel listing and look for the System icon In the folder that opens.
  2. Select the Hardware tab at the top. You will see a button labeled Device Manager at the bottom of the screen.
  3. Click that button and you will be ready to explore the program.

Use The Desktop

  1. Try the desktop access option for a quick and reliable way to get into the Device Manager. Open the desktop and find the My Computer icon. All XP systems should feature this icon on the screen. Right-click on the icon and select the System options.
  2. Click on the Hardware tab, then click on the familiar Device Manager button at the bottom.

Run The Program

  1. Direct run commands will also work. Open the Start Menu through the colorful icon, then click on Run at the bottom.
  2. Type “devmgmt.msc” into the box that pops up. Click on the OK button and watch as the Manager window suddenly appears.

Discovering Driver Problems

It only takes a few clicks and a little looking to discover problems with outdated drivers or damaged files. Once the Device Manager is open, the program will scan your computer and its hardware. Any problems that are discovered will lead to a bright yellow caution icon next to any listings reporting problems. It could mean that the hardware itself is damaged, or that the files that help the devices communicate with the peripherals and other devices. You may need to expand the various categories listed for the equipment to see all of the errors listed.


How To Learn More About The Drivers You Are Using

Creating a more stable computer environment requires regular updates to your driver files. Checking the age and looking for updates is simple when you’re using the Device Manager. Double-clicking on any particular device listing brings up a menu that shows the age of each driver you have installed on the system. Any drivers that are older than a year or two likely needs an update if they are still available from the manufacturer. You can try the Update Drivers button to see if Microsoft Update has a file for you. However, don’t assume that you don’t need an update just because no drivers are automatically found. You still need to check with the company to make sure there aren’t any newer files.


Ten Times To Open The Device Manager

  1. Blue Screen – If your computer suddenly shuts down and displays a blue screen error, you may have a driver or system file problem. Check for errors and consider running a program to scan for hardware failures.
  2. Freezing – Missing files can lead to a lock up that requires restarting to solve.
  3. Adding Devices – After you add a new device to your Windows XP computer, you should double check that the installation proceeded properly before using it.
  4. Error Codes – Pop ups may warn you about Device Error 1, 19, 24, or 3. These common error codes mean that a visit to the Device Manager is in order.
  5. Game Issues – When your favorite games starts having graphics or sound problems, update your video card drivers immediately to see if that is a quick fix.
  6. Device Won’t Restart – Many computers go into sleep mode or hibernate when not in active use. Returning from this mode should restore access to your devices. When this fails to happen, you can adjust the settings in the Manager to put an end to this problem.
  7. Rolling Back – If a driver update starts causing problems, you can always roll back to a previous version with just a click of a button.
  8. Removing Drivers – In rare cases it is necessary to remove drivers manually through this System tool before you make a clean install of a new download.
  9. Disable It – Put an end to broken devices and the havoc they wreak on the system by disabling them in the Device window.
  10. Check System Performance – The Device Manager offers a lot more than just control over the drivers. Check out the other tabs to view how your hardware is affecting your system response and discover details about your computer.

Dangers of the Device Manager

This screen is quite powerful and full of tools, so don’t use it unless you are following trustworthy instructions. Users that don’t feel comfortable working with this screen can choose automated programs that scan for driver problems and install replacements. Avoid uninstalling drivers or components that you aren’t familiar with. Even if you think it’s safe to remove a listing because it’s outdated, you never know what the changes may affect with certain programs or devices. It is especially important to watch out in the other tabs of the Manager that can disable start up programs and certain system components.


A few minutes of scanning and examination can make you quite familiar with the Device Manager. Stick to how to instructions for dealing with specific issues and automatic scans until you know how to use each feature of the program. This tool is indispensable when a driver problem does start interrupting your ability to use your computer.

How To Fix Drivers That Must Be Installed Each Time You Start Up

December 2nd, 2013 No comments

Escaping Driver Errors

Few things are quite as frustrating as a device that is recognized as brand new each time you start your computer. This leads to a seemingly endless cycle that can really ruin your productivity. Putting an end to this repeating problem takes a few steps and some hard work, but you will finally be free of the annoying loop of Windows drivers forcing a fresh install with each boot. Take charge and solve repeating driver installation issues today with this handy guide.


Are Your Devices Working?

There are two distinct types of problems that lead to drivers being reinstalled constantly. Some computer users will find that their devices work just fine despite the pop up advising the installation of a device. Others discover unresponsive microphones or webcams and must go through the installation process easy time, making restarting a major chore. If the device doesn’t work even after proper driver installation, it’s likely a hardware issue that can’t be solved with registry edits or driver updates. Troubleshoot the device itself if possible by using it with another system to ensure you aren’t really dealing with a malfunctioning peripheral.


Start With A System Restore

For many users, a simple driver issue starts the loop. Try using the Windows XP System Restore option to reset your computer back to a point when everything was running smoothly. If you have had these points enabled, access the program using these steps and see if you can boot without being prompted for drivers.


  1. Log into an account with Administrator privileges. If you don’t have one, you can give an existing profile these rights through the Control Panel.
  2. Click on the Start Menu button, then hover over the All Programs title. Click on the Accessories folder, then System Tools and System Restore. This should bring up the System Restore menu.
  3. Click on the radio button next to the Restore option. Click on the Next button.
  4. Check the calendar for an automatic Restore Point from a time when you weren’t experiencing driver problems. Select a relevant date, then hit Next at the bottom of the screen.
  5. Restart your computer and see if the problem returns. If you don’t see a driver installation window and your devices work, you may be done.


Improper Installations

Many driver installation loops begin because you have accidentally installed a driver file incorrectly. This is easy to do, even if you are experienced with computer updates. Failing to restart after installation can lead to a file that is never properly registered. Glitches or unexpected shut down during driver installation also commonly causes an endless loop of notifications. Try uninstalling the existing driver that is causing problems and giving it a fresh install.


  1. Visit your desktop and right click on the My Computer icon found there. Select the System tab on the menu.
  2. Look for the Hardware tab at the top of the screen and click on it. Click the Device Manager found near the bottom.
  3. Pick through the various categories listed on the Manager to find the device or devices that are triggering a re-installation process. You may see them highlighted with a bright yellow icon, or they may be hidden because they aren’t active. You can highlight hidden drivers by clicking on View and selecting Show Hidden Devices.
  4. Double click on the listing for the device driver. Click on the Uninstall button and follow the menus that pop up to complete the process.
  5. Repeat these steps for any other devices causing the same problem.

After deleting the drivers, restart your computer. Have the driver files on hand to install as soon as the prompt appears when the system boots. A fresh install should solve the problem, but you have more options to remedy the loop if it returns once again after these attempts. Keep working on your system if you want to be rid of the New Hardware notification for good.


Automatic Options For Driver Problems

Finding the right driver for your Windows XP system can be challenging, especially since many companies have dropped regular support for older computers and devices. If you can’t seem to find a reliable or matching driver file, you can’t follow the fresh install process properly. You may need to turn to a respected source for automatic driver scanning and installation. The right program can speed up the troubleshooting process by providing rare or unusual driver files. Stick to trustworthy driver installation programs to ensure you don’t just compound your problems while trying to fix an annoying occurrence.


Incorrect Driver Versions

Some driver files just aren’t meant for all Windows XP versions. Installing a driver file meant for 64 bit systems won’t work very well if you have a 32 bit system. Match your driver downloads from the manufacturer’s website to your OS or you may accidentally start a file problem.


Complex Installation Steps

Video card drivers and other similar system files often need a complete installation package to properly register all of the related files. Skipping over the installer and using the files for manual use can cause all sorts of issues by interfering the hardware. If the manufacturer of your device offers an automatic installation program in the form of an .EXE file, use it before attempting to install any other drivers. This is especially important for devices and drivers from companies like AMD and NVIDIA.


Overclocking, hardware issues, and serious system flaws can all cause this problem as well. If you work through the above troubleshooting and repair steps and find the problem just won’t stop, you may need to start testing your hardware. A fresh install of Windows should resolve even the most stubborn problems linked to the system or software. Be sure to back up all of your files and programs before starting a clean install of Windows XP. Damage to the GPU or chip set errors will trigger driver installation processes no matter what you do, and these problems require professional repair.

Why Is My Laptop Battery Failing To Charge?

November 28th, 2013 No comments

You don’t have to take complex data analysis tasks out to a remote mountaintop just to enjoy the flexibility offered by a laptop. Working on the go and catching up on tasks while waiting in the airport or relaxing at home in bed can help you grow your business without staying chained to a desk. If your laptop battery is starting to act unusual or won’t seem to hold a charge at all, get to the bottom of the power leak before you invest in a brand new battery.

Five Common Causes Of Dead Batteries

Understanding how a laptop battery breaks down is essential to preventing it. Some of the most common causes include:

  1. AC Charger Damage – A frayed or broken charger cord can’t refill the battery or keep the laptop on when it is removed.
  2. Constant Overcharging – Due to the cycling method used on laptop batteries, leaving the device constantly connected to the wall can shorten the lifespan of the battery. Eventually the unit simply won’t hold a charge for more than a few minutes at a time.
  3. Overheating – Batteries tend to be sensitive to heat. If the power cells are overheating, the laptop may shut off sporadically and fail to hold a charge.
  4. Driver Problems – Nearly all Windows XP laptops from manufacturers like Dell and Gateway include built-in drivers for battery support. When accidents or viruses destroy the files, the battery can suddenly stop responding at all.
  5. Age – Laptop batteries just aren’t meant to last forever. The average unit is built for about 2 years of daily use, if proper charging and discharging practices are followed.

The Quick Reset

In many cases, your battery just need to be manually reset to start charging again. It can become physically detached or suffer from software disruption. Both issues have a chance of being resolved with this simple process.

  1. Turn the computer off. Disconnect the power cord from the laptop and from the wall.
  2. Close the laptop and flip it over gently. Locate your battery and look for tabs that slide to unlock the power unit. Open any locks and slide the battery out.
  3. Attach the power cord to the laptop and wall once again. Start the laptop up, then shut it down again through the operating system.
  4. Slide the battery back in, lock it in place, and start the laptop once more.

You should immediately see the battery indicator reappear and show the charging effect. However, this quick reset isn’t always effective. Move on to the driver troubleshooting steps if your battery isn’t being recognized or if is still fails to load.

Forced Reinstall of Drivers

This sounds like a drastic step, but it is quite simple. Microsoft continues the files needed to reinstall your battery drivers. To trigger this process:

  1. Open the Device Manager by clicking on the Start Menu and right clicking on the My Computer icon. Hitting Properties and then the Hardware tab will lead you to the Device Manager button at the bottom of the window.
  2. Click on the Batteries category to expand it. Look for the battery itself, which should be listed as a Microsoft ACPI-Compliant Control Method Battery. Right-click on it to uninstall the drivers. Don’t uninstall the files for any other listings found in the category.
  3. Follow the prompts to complete the process. Once the battery is no longer listed, right click anywhere on the Device Manager screen and select Scan for Hardware Changes. The computer will recognize the connected battery and reinstall the appropriate Windows XP drivers.

Recovering And Recuperation

The design of modern lithium ion batteries prevents them from being programmed. Other types of rechargeable batteries get stuck at certain charge points due to improper loading in the first days of use. However, this isn’t a problem with most modern computers. It is far more common that the battery’s internal components register the amount of charge incorrectly. This leads to a fully charged unit that reads as empty to the computer. In some cases, a full discharge is enough to reset the sensors and restore proper charging and reading once again.

  1. Start with a battery that is reading as full charged, or as close as you can come to it. This may only be a few percentage points. Disconnect the charger cord and let the laptop run, with screen saver and hibernate options disabled, until the laptop shuts down.
  2. Reconnect the charger and let the laptop charge for at least two full hours before turning the laptop back on.
  3. Check the battery for increased charging capacity.

You also try a battery calibration application. The manufacturer of your laptop may offer one, or you can take your chances with a third party program. Look for a piece of software that can diagnose charging issues and help you adjust them. There is no guarantee it will work with your specific battery, but it is well worth a try before you spend money on a replacement.

Installing the Drivers For A Replacement Battery

When you do make the decision to buy a new battery for your laptop, make sure that the driver files are installed the right way the first time. Find the CD or download link and retrieve your files, then follow these steps.

  1. Turn off the computer, remove the charger, and take out the old battery.
  2. Reattach the charger cord and turn the computer on. Insert the disc or navigate to the relevant download location and start the installation process.
  3. Follow the steps to complete the driver installation. Once the files are in place, shut the computer down once again.
  4. Add the new battery and insert it into the laptop. Start up the device and give it a chance to boot completely. Give the battery two to three hours to charge fully, then remove the charger to check that it is functioning properly.

Expect to replace your battery at least once every two the three years. While these replacements aren’t cheap, they are still less expensive than a brand new laptop.

How To Choose Between Multiple Versions Of A Driver

November 25th, 2013 No comments

Microsoft designed the Windows XP system to streamline system file updates through the Windows Update program. However, the application may not support all third party devices and peripherals that you add. Going on the hunt to find the right files for your favorite digital camera or printer can lead you into a long maze of conflicting recommendations. One popular model could have over a dozen versions of its drivers available. Learning to differentiate between the various installers available from the manufacturers will help you avoid wasting time with incompatible drivers.

The Automated Options

Many major device manufacturers provide simple programs that can scan your system and identify components. Once the application tells you exactly which video card or scanner you have attached to the computer, you can pinpoint just the right driver. If you can’t find a scan program from a manufacturer, try a Windows XP driver scanner to determine device errors with one click. You can also check out the website for information on how to identify your product by looking for model numbers and service tags. You may have to turn the printer over or open part of the unit to find the information you need.

System Concerns

Some of the newest computer accessories simply aren’t designed to work with older operating systems. Before purchasing a device, verify that Windows XP drivers are available first. Trying to load driver files designed for Windows 7 or Windows 8 instead will only damage your system or fail completely. If the manufacturer no longer lists XP files on their support pages, try:

  1. Using a program designed to scan and automatically download the drivers you need. These often link to collections of relevant system files, making it easier to find rare or discontinued files.
  2. Contacting the manufacturer and asking for a manual download. They may even be able to forward an original copy of the relevant installation disc for a small shipping fee.
  3. Finding archives of Windows XP drivers that are no long listed. This is often a long shot, and better collections are usually found through automated driver fixing software.

You must also match your driver files to your system. If you have a 32-bit computer, you can’t expect 64-bit files to function just the same. Determining which type of system you have only takes a few steps.

  1. Click the Start button to open the menu. Find the Control Panel icon on the right hand side of the menu and click on it.
  2. Double click on the System icon.
  3. Look to the right side of the window and locate the System heading. Below that text, you should find information on the operating system installed on your computer. If you have a Home or Media Center Edition of XP, you have a 32-bit system. Professional versions that are not designated as 64-bit as also simply 32-bit. The only XP systems that require 64-bit drivers will be labeled Microsoft Windows XP Professional x64 Edition Version in this part of the System screen.

Once you know for sure which type of system you have, look for matching drivers on the support websites. If there are no 64-bit drivers available, you can always try the 32-bit versions. Some will work fine. The manufacturer may have a lead on the files you need as well if you can’t find them at first.

Go For The Newest

In most cases, you will need the latest update or release for your relevant drivers that still supports your operating system. AMD or Dell may not have brand new XP drivers for every device, but you should still determine which release was last compatible. Nearly all driver lists are organized chronologically so that you can identify their ages. If you find that there are issues with the latest version, you can always work your way backwards until you locate just the right match.

How To Check The Current Driver Version

Just because you’ve received an email from the manufacturer about a driver update doesn’t mean you necessarily need one. You may already have the latest file installed and not even know it. Finding your driver’s version number is a simple task.

  1. Open the Start Menu with a click of its colorful button. Open the Control Panel with the relevant listing to the right of the menu.
  2. Double click on the System icon. Look for the Hardware tab near the top right hand corner, and give it a click.
  3. Click the button near the bottom labeled Device Manager. Once the Manager is open, locate the device that you need to check. Right click on its name and select Properties at the bottom of the menu.
  4. When that Properties window appears, choose the Driver tab at the top. You’ll see the exact Driver Version number listed in the box, along with the date of the latest installation. Compare the version number to the download offered by the manufacturer to determine if it would be a worthwhile installation.

You will also find out who supplied the driver version you currently have. If you have just added a new device, you may only see a default driver provided by Microsoft. This won’t necessarily help your device function properly when you need the correct driver instead. Checking the Device Manager can reveal when an inappropriate version was accidentally installed or an update was rolled back.

No matter what methods you use for managing your drivers and keeping them updated, it is recommended that you occasionally check your driver versions through the Device Manager. A little extra checking could reveal issues before they get a chance to interfere with the operation of your favorite game or scanner. Set reminders on a calendar or to-do list so your driver maintenance becomes a regular part of your computer use. You will be rewarded with a system that performs as it should for as long as possible.

Categories: XP Drivers Tags:

Where Are Drivers Located On The Computer?

November 21st, 2013 No comments

For being such crucial system files, drivers are surprisingly fragile. Big communication processes for computer hardware is handled by small, easily deleted files that lie hidden within multiple locations on your hard drive. Even uninstalling the wrong listing from your Add and Remove Programs folder could trigger a whole chain of driver issues that are hard and time consuming to reverse. Learning about the common locations of drivers will help you avoid accidents, but it is also helpful to learn how to identify a driver file that might pop up in an unexpected place.

The Systems32 Folder

On computers running the Windows XP operating system, nearly all of the driver files are located within the Systems32 folder. This folder is on your main hard drive in most cases. You can usually find this folder by navigating to C:/Windows/Systems32. If you have installed your operating system on a partition or an external drive, you may have a different letter proceeding the address. Driver files may be located within that folder mixed in with executables and text files, or they may be hidden away in the /Drivers sub folder. Moving or deleting either of these folders will do a serious blow to the functionality of your computer.

Protecting The Directory

Many driver catastrophes occur when a cat runs across a keyboard or a child tries to explore the file system. Setting your computer to lock to the Welcome screen after a short period of inactivity is one of the best ways to stop accidents like this from occurring. However, well-meaning adult users can also wreak havoc. Setting up some controls on your system can keep system folders from being deleted on purpose or accidentally.

Hiding The Folders

Moving the entire Windows directory out of sight is an easy way to prevent deletion without making the files accessible when you do need them.

  1. Open any folder on your desktop. This opens a Windows Explorer window. Click on the Tools tab on the top row of the window.
  2. Click on the Folder Options tab at the top of the screen that pops up.
  3. Select the tab labeled View.
  4. Look for a listing labeled “Do not show hidden files and folders” next to a check box. Check that box, if it is empty, to make sure your system folders and files aren’t visible during casual use.

Limiting Access

The Windows XP system is designed to help you control and limit file access. If you have a user that could accidentally damage the system, a limited account works best.

  1. Select the Start button, then navigate to your Control Panel. Double-click on the User Accounts icon.
  2. Create or designate an Administrator account, if you don’t already have one. This account needs to be password protected and inaccessible to anyone but the owner of the system.
  3. Click on the Create An Account link to run the wizard. Once your Administrator account is ready, run it again and select the Limited User option instead.
  4. Follow the prompts and restart your computer. Log in on the new limited account to check that everything works, then let your accident-prone user surf without worry.

Record Keeping

Keeping good records of all of your hardware and their manufacturers is also very important. If you aren’t sure what parts make up your computer, it is much harder to repair and restore the system if something happens. Unfortunately, simply copying your Systems32 folder to a blank flash drive won’t protect you from deletion.

Why Backups Aren’t Enough

Driver files are simple and small, but they aren’t directly executed by the computer until they have been registered. This means that each driver has to be installed. The installation process requires other files, most notably the .inf files that the computer read to learn where to put the files and how to register them. Without an .inf file, a driver file is useless. These temporary files are only included for installation and don’t remain in the directory with the driver in most cases. Backing up the system folders can give you a heads up on what you need, but you will still need to download or find the installation packages from the manufacturer.

The INF Directory

In your explorations of the hard drive, you may well find the INF storage folder. It can provide a false sense of hope if it still has some installation files lingering in it. Unfortunately, nearly all .inf driver files are removed after installation is complete. You must also know which .inf files go with which devices and drivers to complete a manual installation. This makes driver backup only truly possible with a complete disc image of the system or a collection of installers ready to use.

Identifying Drivers In Other Places

Driver files can pop up in program folders, the Desktop, or even in your Documents folder. Accidental movement accounts for a lot of weird driver appearances, but some need to stay in place. Always try moving the file to a folder and checking for disruption of a service before outright deleting it if you are questioning its validity. Look out for these common signs that a mysterious file is a driver that needs to stay in place:

  1. It popped up due to the installation of a new device, game, or program. Many software programmers have to write special drivers to ensure their programs can work with your hardware. Deleting files in the folders of games is especially not recommended unless you know what they are used for.
  2. It features a .DLL extension. Also known as a Dynamic Link Library, these files are one of the most common types of drivers. Other common driver related extensions include .SYS, .INF, and .OCX.
  3. The system tries to warn you not to delete it. Windows does have some protections for system files, so you may be asked for Administrator approval if you try to remove it. However, don’t delete randomly and assume you are safe because the computer isn’t trying to stop you.

Does My Hard Drive Require A Driver?

November 18th, 2013 No comments

When browsing the various options for personal or business computing offered by major retailers, the low cost of devices sold without operating systems can be quite tempting. Computer owners that have gone through the process of reformatting a computer or installing updates may feel comfortable with the idea of purchasing and installing their own operating system. However, these systems can cause a few issues with certain operating systems based on their hardware. You will need to do your research into the drivers and devices used in the model before deciding if you are up for the challenge of OS installation.


Your Handy Storage Solution


Expanding hard drives have made it possible to store hundreds of full length movies, thousands of songs, and millions of books all right within your home office. These components are relatively easy to upgrade. General driver compatible is one of the main reasons that hard drives are so simple to replace. However, the controller file for the hard drive may not come with the system, especially if no operating system is installed. If you plan to buy an OS free system to use Windows XP on, you may run into some installation issues. Identifying the hardware used by the manufacturer is recommended so you do your research before investing in anything. It may be frustrating to delay your purchase in order to hunt around for the right match, but you will be able to use the system with less work to set it up.


A Common And Confusing Scene


You insert your Windows XP installation disc on your new computer and settle in for the long process. Unfortunately, you are greeted with a screen that claims the system doesn’t have a working hard drive installed. You know that’s not true because you check the product description quite thoroughly, but you can’t just tell the computer that it’s there. Instead, you must locate and install the correct driver so your storage device can communicate clearly with the rest of the system. In most cases, this happens automatically because the OS disc includes a compatible file or the driver is pre-loaded on the motherboard. When this fails to produce results, you may have to hunt down another solution. The operating system can’t be installed until the hard drive is recognized, so you will need another computer for your troubleshooting process.


Types Of Hard Drives


Identifying the exact type of hard drive in the computer can be tricky, but most consumer grade desktops and laptops all use one type. Higher read and write speeds can be offered by other types of drives, and small devices like netbooks may have a different type of storage all together.


  • Serial ATA
    • The SATA hard drive is the most common disc-based installation used for modern computers. Operating systems like Windows XP support common and native drivers for communication with these devices. However, some manufacturers may have specific controller files and advanced drivers you need to use your drive. Consult the website of the creators to discover if there are specific SATA drivers to download in order to get the system up running. O/S free systems often don’t include support discs for components.


  • Small Computer System Interface
    • The SCSI hard drives are often offered as upgrades for business level computers or systems designed for high read and write speeds. These devices usually come with specific controller drivers, which can be found through the manufacturer or sources for SCSI drivers.


  • Solid State Drive
    • With no spinning discs to wear out, SSD hard drives can last a long time. These are commonly used in high end laptops and netbooks that need to minimize component bulk. Drivers are not always needed, but you may still need to find a Windows XP SATA driver to proceed with OS installation.


Ways To Locate The SCSI and SATA Drivers You Need


You have three main tactics to try when attempting to deal with a system with no operating system. One requires you to know exactly what kind of hardware is located inside the case, while another relies on supplies from the retailer. The third won’t always work, but it is worth trying nonetheless.


Using Your Recovery Or Installation Discs


In many cases, you must only use your provided Windows XP recovery disc or original installation disc to find the drivers you need. The operating system ships with hundreds of drivers used by the biggest manufacturers, so there is a good chance this step alone is all you need.


Finding The Drivers When You Know The Makers


If you still have the product listing or owner’s manual showing all of the components in the system, your job is still fairly easy.


  1. Check the manufacturer of the hard drive and its type (SSD, SATA, SCSI, IDE, etc.). If there is a model number, copy it down.
  2. Visit the manufacturer’s website and check their support section. Most still only use general SATA controllers for a wide range of specific models, so matching your OS and hard drive type and size should help you locate the files you need.
  3. Download the files and burn them onto a disc designed to be read from the boot screen. You can find a number of free utilities to help you accomplish this purpose.
  4. Boot the system from the installation or recovery disc you plan to use, then select the Load More Drivers… option from the screen. Swap the disc out for your driver disc and follow the installation prompts. If you chose the right files, you should then find your hard drive recognized.


Hunting For Generic Options


SATA and many SSD drivers don’t need specific controller files from the manufacturer. If your Windows installation disc just doesn’t contain the right drivers, consider visiting the Microsoft Support website and looking for driver packs related to your device. For example, computer owners can pick up a SCSI Port Driver package in just a few minutes that will install many matching drivers on a system and potentially solve your problem. It may take a few tries to find a working set, so buying a computer with Windows XP or another OS installed is still the easiest option.

Categories: XP Drivers Tags:

The Risks Of Downloading Unverified Drivers

November 14th, 2013 No comments

It is tempting to simply plug a file name or device name into Google when a driver error starts causing problems for you. For many computer owners, this is a serious mistake. Basic web searches can draw up thousands or even millions of relevant pages. A search for “driver files” alone brings up nearly 800,000,000 results. Some of those websites are guaranteed to be peddling paid solutions that don’t work, instant installers that come with viruses, and keyloggers that can steal your personal data. Sticking with appropriate and trusted sources for drivers is the only way to keep your system’s most sensitive files from becoming corrupted.


Know Your File Types


Knowing the file types commonly associated with driver types can help you avoid the most obvious attempts to scam you. You shouldn’t need to try and find system drivers online when they are available right from Microsoft, even for Windows XP and other older operating systems. Most computer owners turn to Google for upgrades and peripheral equipment instead. These devices may have driver files with extensions like:


  • DLL – The Dynamic Link Libraries are some of the most common driver files. One printer or USB device may need a dozen or more DLL drivers, but each one can be removed and replaced independently in case of corruption.
  • DRV – Nearly all files with this extension are Windows driver files. This format is used for both important system files and communication with video cards or network devices.
  • INF – Microsoft also reports that driver files must be accompanied with an information file in order for installation to complete. If your package includes an INF file, it’s more likely to be a legitimate installation package.
  • ZIP – In some cases, DLL and INF files are packed together into an archive file with an extension of ZIP or RAR. However, the contents can just as likely be viruses or malware.
  • EXE – Avoid downloading EXE installation files unless you are getting them from a manufacturer or a similarly trusted website. Most printer, camera, and other device companies do deliver their drivers and proprietary software this way, but it is also used by individuals trying to mine data as well.

Start With The Manufacturer


Your search for the right driver files should always begin with the manufacturer of the particular item or device. These uploads are protected and trustworthy, and infections that affect them must come from your own system. Many well-meaning friends and computer fans spread around viruses by accident when attempting to help others find the driver files they need. Many devices still used today were made by manufacturers who still support them. Even if you are dealing with a 10 year old iPod or a printer that is going on 15, you may be able to get the drivers you need straight from Apple or Dell.


What To Do With Untrustworthy Files


If you have already downloaded a file that seems suspicious, there are a few actions you need to take immediately to protect your system and your personal information.

  1. Delete the file immediately if you do not trust it. Find its download location, right click on the actual file or files, and click on Delete. Visit your Recycle Bin on your desktop and empty it to ensure the files aren’t accidentally opened.
  2. If you have opened or executed them, close them. You can use the task manager to check for programs running in the background matching the file’s name, then close them as well. This will allow you to delete the original files.
  3. Disconnect from the Internet by unplugging the relevant cables or shutting off your wireless adapter.
  4. Immediately run an antivirus scan with your chosen software for the job. For good measure, run separate spyware and malware scans as well.
  5. Do not use that computer until the scans have all completed. Entering data into your bank’w website or your email account could leave you the victim of identity theft. Use another system that isn’t connected to the potential infection if you need to access the Internet while waiting on results.
  6. Treat any infections or infestations that are found. Do not attempt to download and install a trustworthy driver file until any viruses or other unwanted codes are gone first.


Windows Update And Driver Signing


Back when Windows 2000 was first released, Microsoft introduced a very important new tool to help computer owners avoid incompatible or corrupted driver files. This tool is free and is included in every copy of the Windows XP operating system. If you allow Windows Update to handle the installation of new drivers, it will run the files through the Driver Signing protocol first. This uses codes to determine if you are working with a genuine copy of the driver or a falsified replacement.


Trustworthy Secondary Sources


Users who are coming up empty when trying to find a manufacturer or copy in the Microsoft database can turn to trustworthy driver databases. Be sure to check for signs of legitimacy like privacy policies and TRUSTe approval for data handling. This ensures that the website is providing you with legitimate and safe driver files rather than viruses and keyloggers. Be especially wary of sites hosted for free or files posted on forums and similar social sites. If you can’t find a copy on one of the top three trusted driver websites, it may not be available at all.


Watch Out For Third Parties


Some advanced users like to create homemade drivers for products that they want to adjust the behavior of. While this may sound like a good idea if you want a faster system or heard about accessing new digital camera features, it can definitely backfire. These independent third party developers don’t have the budget and resources for full scale bug testing like the device manufacturers. They can’t necessarily promise that their hard work won’t cause serious damage to your system due to an unforeseen problem. Use them only if you are aware of the risks and have enough computer skills to repair the damage these drivers could cause.

Categories: XP Drivers Tags:

What Happens If I Install The Wrong Driver?

November 5th, 2013 No comments

Driver mismatches can arise from sheer frustration or simple mistakes. If you click on the wrong link when searching the support pages of a computer manufacturer, you can end up with a driver or installation file that is definitely not designed to work with your system. Many users often do this on purpose when they can’t locate a driver that is perfectly compatible with their operating system or exact device model. The search for a rare or out of date file often seems nearly impossible. However, installing the wrong driver can have quite a few consequences.


Problems Ranging From Small To Large


Driver files are utilized by the operating system to communicate with devices connected to the computer. Each file is written to work with a specific piece of hardware, so all sorts of errors pop up when the wrong code is executed in the attempt to do something with a printer or camera. You may not even notice that you have chosen the wrong files for weeks or even months until issues start occurring. Some of the most common issues caused by incorrect drivers include:

  • Error windows that appear every time you start the computer or when you attempt to use the device. These windows may list the incorrect or missing driver file, or they may not hint at the actual cause at all and report a completely different problem.
  • Constant restarting. If the driver for a major component involved in start up can’t be loaded properly, the system may just keep restarting endlessly to try and resolve the problem.
  • Replacement of the old driver files even after the new, correct versions are added. Windows can become convinced that the wrong files are the right ones and undo your work if you don’t install the correct drivers in the first place.
  • Failure to start up at all. Getting stuck at the boot screen is often linked to just one tiny file in the System folder.
  • Programs stop working. When your video driver or your USB controller file is corrupted, the programs that rely on these components won’t work either.
  • Issues installing the right files. Windows XP often reinstalls the older version as part of the errors caused by incompatibility, which is endlessly frustrating when you have the right file and it keeps getting overwritten by the wrong one.
  • Difficulties uninstalling the component or getting your computer to realize it is no longer connected. Even if you remove the driver, the system may have a phantom loop left behind that leads to the hardware detection wizard after a CD drive or printer is long gone.


Handling Your Mistake


When you realized that you may not have the right driver for your hardware, your first step should be research. Finding the right Windows XP driver is always recommended before you try uninstalling the old file, but that should take priority if the file is causing a restarting loop or random shutdown problems. You may need to remove the component, even if it is a video card or other internal device, to accomplish this.


Starting In Safe Mode


Starting your computer in Safe Mode will help you stop the endless cycle of driver errors and get a handle on your system again. Print these instructions so you can restart in the right mode without having to access the Internet in the middle of the process.


  1. Shut down the computer normally through the Start Menu. Find the F8 key on your keyboard, then start the system back up again.
  2. Press the F8 key as the computer starts up and works through the various boot screens. If the Windows XP logo pops up rather than a boot options screen, allow the system to start up fully and try again. The key is to have F8 pressed in the two to three seconds after the system starts, but before Windows XP itself is loaded. It may take a few tries to access the boot menu.
  3. Select the Safe Mode with Command Prompt option. Avoid the networking option unless you know you aren’t having problems with drivers related to your modem or ports.


The computer should boot with only the minimal system drivers loaded. If the issue lies within one of these files, you may experience the same errors, but it is likely that Safe Mode will work well enough for you to remove the incorrect drivers and replace them with new ones.


Try A Restore Point


If Safe Mode triggers the same errors or you can’t seem to get the wrong driver uninstalled, you may need to let the operating system have a try at the problem. The easiest way to do this is to reset to a previous restore point made before you installed the offending file. If you have System Restore turned on as a feature, try:

  1. Logging into an Administrator account or an account with Administrator privileges.
  2. Open the Start Menu in the left corner of the screen and navigate to the All Programs tab at the bottom. Select the Accessories folder, then System Tools, and click on the System Restore listing.
  3. Select the restoration option on the window that opens and press Next. Pick a restore point from the list that you are sure was made before the driver was installed. If you aren’t sure when the wrong files were added, try checking the Device Manager and looking for the date of the latest driver update.
  4. Follow the rest of the instructions in the System Restore window and allow the computer to restart itself.


Uninstalling Manually


When a driver file is wreaking havoc with your system, it is best to uninstall it. You can do this quite simply with the device manager:

  1. Open the Start Menu and click on the Control Panel listing.
  2. Double click on the System icon, click on the Hardware tab, then press the Device Manager button.
  3. Find the affected device and double click on its listing. Selecting the Driver tab, then click on the uninstall button near the bottom.
Categories: Driver FAQ, Performance, XP Drivers Tags:

Six Steps To A New Video Card

November 5th, 2013 No comments

On most work computers, the video card does relatively little to render word processing software or customer databases. However, professional gamers, video editors, and photographers all need far more powerful graphics rendering solutions. Installing the latest version of Photoshop or Vegas Pro to complete your daily work will backfire if your system simply doesn’t have a graphics card that can support those programs. If you are ready to upgrade to the best graphics card within your budget, learn about the necessary steps to avoid mistakes and frustration.


Even Beginners Can Do It


Unlike motherboard replacements, video card upgrades are relatively easy. If you feel comfortable adding or removing RAM upgrades, you can definitely handle your own installation. Even if you have never opened your case, you should be able to do it with the right guide. However, the ease of the process greatly depends on your ability to choose a card that will work with your system. Many users struggle unnecessarily when attempting to upgrade video cards because they simply don’t take the time to pick a model that matches their computer. Grabbing a card at random from your local electronics dealer will only leave you confused and could potentially damage your system. Most of the newest models don’t have Windows XP drivers available, so you may have to settle for a high end model from a few years ago if you aren’t willing to change your operating system.


Step One – Finding The Right Equipment


Your first step in upgrading your video card should involve plenty of research. Start by consulting your owner’s manual for your computer, or check with the manufacturer’s website for the specifications of the system. You need to find out what type of expansion slots and bays your computer has for accepting graphics cards. A desktop could have PCI, PCI-e, AGP, or PCI-e2.0 ports that all accept various types of video cards. There is no reason to buy an AGP card for a system that only has PCI ports.


Step Two – Comparing The Options


Check the requirements for a computer power supply as well when considering cards. If your favorite model lists that it needs 800 watts and your laptop only has a 300 watt computer power supply, you are headed for trouble. Once you have ruled out power requirements and port incompatibilities, head to a video card comparison website to see which models are worth the money. You should be able to enter the games or programs you want to run and receive a list of devices tested to work with them. This is a crucial step when you are investing in a graphics card upgrade specifically for a work project or a new game release. Reading through the reviews and benchmark tests should give you a good idea of the best graphics card for your needs.


Step Three – Opening The Case


Once you have made your purchase and your card has arrived, it is time to begin the actual upgrading process. This begins with the opening of the computer case. Each laptop and desktop has a different configuration of screws, clips, and other fasteners that should be removed in a specific order. Try searching for your computer’s model name and the words “open the case” to find video and photo tutorials. Many manufacturers, like Dell and Gateway, produce these tutorials themselves and keep them available as part of their customer support service. You will likely need a flathead and Phillips head screwdriver, a small dish to hold the fasteners, and a soft place to set the computer as you work on it. You may also need a hex head Allen wrench or other specialty tools to access your computer’s innards. Be sure to disconnect your computer from all power supplies before opening one screw, and consider using an anti shock wristband every time you work on the interior of the system.


Step Four – Removing Existing Cards


Most users choose to remove their old graphics card and insert the new one in the same slot. However, many computers have integrated graphics cards that are a part of the motherboard. In this case, it is perfectly fine to leave it in place and use an empty slot instead. You can also arrange to use more than one graphics card at once with the right drivers, or disable the older card through the Device Manager after installation is complete. This step is optional, but it will provide the best results for most users.


Step Five – Start It Up


Close up the case after you are sure that your new video card is properly seated in its corresponding port. Follow the opening instructions in reverse, ensuring that each fastener goes in without too much tightening. You need to be able to get the case open again right away if you have issues during start up.


When the case is closed, reconnect the power supply and turn the system on. The new graphics card should be recognized as soon as Windows XP is finished loading. If it isn’t, head to the Device Manager and look for issues there before opening the case again and re-seating the card.


Step Six – Install Your Drivers


Insert the disk provided by the video card manufacturer to immediately start the final step of installation. Video card drivers are often updated multiple times after release, but the first version should at least get the card working properly enough that you can connect to the Internet for updates. If there was a known issue with your system configuration, you may need to retrieve the fixed driver files with another computer to complete your work.


If you have another graphics card installed that you didn’t remove, you should be able to use that card until the new device is properly recognized. Switching to the newer model is as simple as visiting the Device Manager and disabling the old or weaker card. A full restart may be needed in order to let the other card become the primary device.

Categories: XP Drivers Tags:

Do I Need To Remove Old Drivers Before Installing New Ones?

November 5th, 2013 No comments

When you decide to invest in new tires for your car, you have to start by taking off the old ones. The same basic idea applies when you replace kitchen counter tops or flooring in the home. This concept doesn’t necessarily extend to your computer, however. The operating system handles driver files a little differently. In most cases, it isn’t necessary or even recommended that you fully remove old files before you replace them with newer ones. Updating your driver files is usually a very simple process, barring complications.


The Endless Clean Up Debate

The idea of fully removing device drivers before updating has been sparking controversy and arguments for years. Many users swear by the method and claim it is the only way to make sure that conflicts don’t arise later. Others rightfully point out that removal of the files disables a number of helpful features offered by Windows XP when it comes to driver management. The process really boils down to personal preference, but for most users, leaving older driver files in place is the best method.


Don’t Lose Your Tools

Removing a driver, either manually or through the Device Manager, deletes the files. If you leave those files in place, you can access the Rollback Driver and Reinstall Driver options through the Manager if there is an issue with the new file. Computer users that are not comfortable with in-depth registry editing and system file manipulation should definitely leave their older drivers in place to take advantage of these helpful tools. Attempting to rollback a driver update by installing it over the new file often backfires, so Windows XP has a specialized process for handling the challenge. Unless you already know how to do a manual rollback, don’t delete your driver files. Your system will remove all unnecessary and outdated material except for the last version before your update, keeping your system clean and relatively uncluttered.


The Conflict Of Manufacturer’s Instructions


It can be difficult to make the right choice when a new device comes with instructions that tell you to remove all existing drivers first. When replacing a graphics card or other integrated device, this may well be the right path to take. AMD is one of many manufacturers that requests a removal of all related files before driver updates or upgrades are made. However, these companies also tend to offer automated driver installation packages in .EXE files. Most of these programs include driver removal and clean up tools to ensure you get a correct and updated installation. Using these tools can take the work and risk out of removing old files. Always follow manufacturer instructions if they contradict other information so their support team can help you more easily if a problem does occur.


How To Remove Driver Files


If you’re convinced that you need to remove your files before a driver update or you have noticed issues from drivers that weren’t removed, you can easily do it through the Device Manager.


  1. Open the Start Menu with a click on its button. Look for the Run listing and click it.
  2. Type or copy and paste “devmgmt.msc” into the Open: box, without the quotes around it.
  3. Press the OK button and the Device Manager should pop up within a few seconds.


You can also access the Device Manager through the Control Panel. Once you have it open, you can continue to the driver removal step.


  1. Find the device that you need to remove the drivers for in the list. It may be highlighted with a yellow caution icon if there is an issue due to the files currently installed.
  2. Right click on the related listing, then select the Uninstall Driver option and follow the prompts that appear to complete the process.


Recovery Options


If you delete your driver files by accident, you may be able to recover them with a System Restore. However, there is no guarantee that this will happen. It is best to try the recovery process immediately after your mistake rather than waiting or making a bunch of changes to fix the problem. If the System Restore doesn’t work, you can always download the driver files again and reinstall them.


Using a System Restore:

  1. Access the Start Menu and open the All Programs tab. Follow the Accessories and System Tools folder to find the System Restore listing, which you should click on.
  2. Choose the restoration option and check the calender that appears. You may find that your system created a point specifically before you removed the drivers if you used the Device Manager. This is unlikely if you manually deleted them from the corresponding folder. If there is no driver related point, choose another one from a time when the drivers were intact and functioning properly.
  3. Follow the rest of the prompts and allow your computer to restart. Check for the driver file when the system is up again, and rollback the System Restore process through the window that appears during start up if it didn’t fix your problem.


Setting Up System Restore Before You Make Driver Changes


Users planning to remove driver files to stop errors or to make a clean install of new files should definitely use the System Restore tool to protect themselves. Taking the time to create a distinct and new point will make it much easier to undo the deletion if you realize it wasn’t needed later.


Making A System Restore Point:

  1. Open the System Restore tool using step one from the above instructions.
  2. Select the “Create a restore point” option instead and click Next. Give the point a description related to the driver you are removing so you can easily find it later.
  3. Click on the Create button and give your system time to save your settings and crucial files. It may take a few minutes, but your computer will notify you when it is done.


You will need to turn on the System Restore tool before using it to create a point or rollback to a previous setup.

Categories: XP Drivers Tags: