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
- 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.
- Select the Hardware tab at the top. You will see a button labeled Device Manager at the bottom of the screen.
- Click that button and you will be ready to explore the program.
Use The Desktop
- 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.
- Click on the Hardware tab, then click on the familiar Device Manager button at the bottom.
Run The Program
- Direct run commands will also work. Open the Start Menu through the colorful icon, then click on Run at the bottom.
- 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It only takes a few clicks and a little looking to discover problems with outdated drivers or damaged files.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
- 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.
- Freezing – Missing files can lead to a lock up that requires restarting to solve.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Disable It – Put an end to broken devices and the havoc they wreak on the system by disabling them in the Device window.
- 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.