Archive

Archive for the ‘Performance’ Category

Finding Compatible Drivers For Older Digital Cameras

February 10th, 2014 No comments

Shopping around for a digital camera can leave you with a little bit of sticker shock if you want the power of a digital SLR or similar model for quality work. However, you can turn to gently used models that are just a few years old to save a lot of money while enjoying your artistic results. Buying a used digital camera on eBay is a good way to get into the photography hobby without having to shell out a lot of money to get the equipment you need. You could start a business selling crafts online, or create a portfolio of stock photography to offer buyers. Finding support and digital camera drivers for a Windows XP computer takes a little but of work, but it will pay off when you follow the right steps.

Original CD

Start by giving yourself a head start with a camera package that includes the original installation CD. Many used sellers track down these discs to help you install support files for your new camera.. This is also an sign that the camera has only had one user, which indicates it is likely in better shape than a model that has passed through multiple hands already. If you can’t find a product you want that includes the original driver CD, head to the manufacturer’s website. Companies like Nikon, Canon, and Fujipix all offer downloads of various necessary files when you know what kind of camera you are using. The website will also include information on finding a model number, which allows you to pinpoint exactly which driver files to download.

Native Support From Windows XP

Don’t assume that your older digital camera needs drivers before giving the XP native support a chance to kick in. Simple point and shoot cameras often allow the computer to read it without needing any further installation. It is well worth a try to plug in your digital camera with a USB cord and see if you can open its storage as folders on a drive. If you have purchased a computer requiring more than a USB connection to transfer files, it is unlikely you can use a specialty dock without finding the corresponding drivers first.

Windows XP may recognize the digital camera as a Mass Storage Device. This means you can open it as an external drive. The camera will need to offer Picture Transfer Protocol (PTP) or Media Transfer Protocol (MTP) support to do this. Check the specifications listed by searching the product name to find out if a particular camera model offers this mode. If you choose one that does, you won’t have to worry about finding and installing drivers to use it with a Windows XP computer.

Windows Update

You may be able to find and download the right drivers just by connecting the camera and letting Windows search for it. Utilizing Windows Hardware Wizard is always helpful when you aren’t sure exactly what the model number is for the camera you bought or received as a gift.

Using Windows Update:

  1. Connect your digital camera to the computer with a USB cord. If you don’t hear the chime telling you it has been detected, you may need to switch it on, depending on the model.
  2. Click on the Start Button. Select the All Programs tab, then find the Windows Update listing and click on it.
  3. Enter your Administrative account information if prompted by the computer.
  4. Click on the Check For Updates link on the left side of the window.

If the program locates updates for the camera, they will be listed in the center pane. Click on any relevant links to start the automatic download and installation process.

Once the Update has run, you should be able to use your camera successfully. Any issues mean an uninstall is in order before you attempt to manually or automatically install any more files related to the camera you are using.

Driver Scanner Software

All too many of the big name manufacturers have stopped providing the Windows XP drivers for some of their most popular products. When you only discover driver files for the 7 and 8 versions of the OS, you may need to turn to a driver scanner and collection software that includes legacy drivers. Compatibility is key if you want your digital camera to run correctly. Don’t download driver installers unless they are trustworthy to make sure you get the right results. Programs that install mismatching files will cause more problems than they solve.

Other Options For Transferring Your Photos

Even if you can’t locate the driver for an older camera you have purchased, you have other options for getting the files as you need them. Start by checking into what type of media the device uses for saving the files. Nearly all modern cameras rely on some kind of SD or Memory Stick to do this. If you find out what type of memory is used, you can buy a card reader that supports it. Connect the USB reader and insert the card to have it treated as external storage without needing to install a lot of complicated drivers. Of course, this won’t help for integrated storage. Check into Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and Pictbridge transfer support for further options.

When Should I Remove Drivers From My Computer?

January 3rd, 2014 No comments

Since drivers are such crucial system files, it is best to handle them very carefully. Overzealous removal of files that seem unneeded or outdated could cripple your system and leave your hardware on the fritz. Most users should leave their drivers alone, but problems popping up may require you to do a little selective trimming of the archives. It takes a few steps to fully remove driver files. However, virus infections and incompatibilities often call for the deletion of device drivers before brand new copies can be installed. Learning when and how to remove driver files is important if you don’t have a computer service department to fall back on for repairs.

Arguments Against Removal

It is a good practice to uninstall software and games when you’re done with them to keep your hard drive from getting cluttered. However, driver files are small and won’t take up significant room. There are far more benefits to keeping older version of drivers around than there are risks associated with them. If you keep your files, you can:

  • Easily rollback to a previous working version when an update causes all sorts of issues. Many new releases come with unexpected bugs, so rollback is one of the most powerful driver tools you can use on Windows XP.
  • Use System Recovery to reset your entire computer back to a point before a virus or bug took hold. If the drivers have been deleted since the last good working point, recovery will likely fail in at least one way.
  • Keep generic drivers from being installed for hardware you use every day. Removing a driver still in use often triggers an automatic installation that leaves you with limited to no use of the equipment.
  • Registry files are left behind after many types of incomplete driver uninstalling processes. Leaving these listings could mean that new items are incorrectly recognized as the old equipment. New sound cards or printers with no response are often linked to driver confusions.

Corruption And Malware

One situation that calls for uninstalling the older set of drivers is when malware or viruses strike. Many high level viral threats attack the system files to make it much harder for you to remove the infection. Being forced to delete your graphics card driver may cause the system to act up, but it could be your only option for eliminating the threat. Your anti virus software may ask to quarantine the file before deleting it, which will require a reboot. Make sure you follow the uninstallation process after quarantine, then clear the system with your anti virus program, before you attempt to install a new copy.

Driver Errors

You may also need to initiate a full removal of scanner drivers or similar files if you find that error codes keep popping up every time you start your computer. This is often the only indication that you are dealing with file problems at all. Keep an eye out for:

  • Code 18 – The driver is in need of reinstallation before the device can work properly again.
  • Code 38 – There are issues loading the driver files because existing instances are already open.
  • Code 45 – The hardware is not connected.
  • Code 49 – Too many devices have been installed into the registry. This is the code most linked to the need for immediate deletion of old and unneeded drivers.

New Equipment

When you want to replace a stock piece of hardware or an outdated accessory, you may need to completely remove old drivers along with the unwanted equipment. Leaving files in place often means a new video card or sound card is simply recognized as the previous version. This prevents the hardware manager from following the process for adding the right driver files for your upgrade. Again, deleting the physical drivers won’t take away the corresponding registry listings, so follow a full uninstallation if your new equipment recommends it. It’s smart to follow the process even if it isn’t recommended when installing anything attaching to the motherboard.

It is also recommended that you prune out some outdated drivers if you reconfigure your hardware and remove things that aren’t replaced. Leaving too many drivers behind will use up precious system resources and slow down the start up process. Each driver file has to be loaded during the boot phase, so excess listings can lead to slightly slower loads. This is barely noticeable on a modern system, but an older XP computer with limited memory and processing power could struggle greatly if it gets too bogged down. You may find a streamlined start after a careful survey of driver files that are no longer needed.

How To Remove Drivers In Full

A quick process is all it takes to remove driver files and the registry listings associated with them. You won’t be able to see the files for missing or disconnected hardware unless you take the right steps to unlock them says Tech Republic.

  1. Open your Start Menu by clicking the circular icon in the left hand lower corner.
  2. Select the Run option near the bottom.
  3. Enter the word “cmd”, without the quotes, into the Run box that appears. Use lower cased letters.
  4. When the Command Prompt window opens, type in “set devmgr_show_nonpresent_devices=1” without the quotes. Press enter after to execute the command. Nothing will appear to happen, but the setting will change as soon as you see the blinking cursor move to the next line.
  5. On the next line, enter “devmgmt.msc” with no quotes. Again, press enter. At this point you will see the Device Manager opening – without you having to go through the Start Menu again.
  6. Open the View menu at the top of the Manager screen. Click on the Show Hidden Devices option.
  7. Check the updated listing on the screen. You should see any inactive or unused drivers as grayed out icons and text. Double check every device and listing before making any changes. When you find something you can verify needs removal, right click and select Uninstall to complete the process.

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.

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.

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:

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:

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, Dell.com 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.

 

Reformatting

 

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: