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Why Won’t My Device Drivers Install?

February 17th, 2014 No comments

Developing your skills as a computer owner is the only way to ensure you can get through minor issues without having to hand your device to a repair technician. Polishing up your device driver management skills could leave you frustrated if all your attempts fail to install the proper files. Keeping your device drivers updated is crucial for system safety, so you will need to build these skills now rather than later. You only need to take a few troubleshooting steps to discover why you are experiencing the problem. Fixing driver issues can save you a lot of time and money over paying for repairs every time a device has a hard time connecting.

Mismatches and Mistakes

The majority of driver installation errors arise from simple mistakes, making them surprisingly easy to solve. All too many experienced computer users have clicked on the wrong link for a download and ended up with a file they didn’t want. Double checking that the file you received is the one you wanted in the first place only takes a moment and could save you a lot of hassle. Other issues arise when you download a driver designed for a different operating system or type of processor. Check all of the following points for compatibility when choosing your download:

  • Version of Windows – XP drivers rarely load at all when used on Vista or 8 computers
  • Type of processor – Check if your computer uses a 32-bit or 64-bit processor by visiting the System tab in the Control Panel
  • Driver version – Some driver versions only work with specific firmware upgrades available for the device
  • Latest updates – You need the best version of the driver file that works with your device to avoid bugs and glitches

Most third party websites fail to list all of the details for each driver they provide. Looking for a website specializing in Windows XP drivers or stick with the manufacturer’s websites to make sure you have the information you need to make the right decision.

No Connected Device

It may seem smart to try and install needed drivers before investing in a device or connecting it to your computer. However, this is a little more difficult than you might expect. It takes a little more work to start the installation process without triggering it by connecting your new webcam or printer. You must download an executable installer file in the form of .EXE or .MSI in order to even attempt it. With just a .DLL driver file, you must attach the device to install the appropriate driver. If the computer doesn’t recognize the device when you attach it, there may be an issue with the port or the hardware itself.

Lack of Administrator Privileges

The administrator account on a computer is often the only one authorized to make changes to the system files. This means that trying to install important drivers from a limited user account often backfires and leaves you unable to use your newest device. Log in to an account with administrator privileges before starting up any installer packages to give the program a chance to add files to the System folder and write registry changes. Computers with only one account tend to have administrator allowances already added to the login credentials, and you can change the privileges of your current account to give yourself the necessary access from the Control Panel.

Problem Solving: Safe Mode Installation

When driver installation fails, the process should reverse automatically and remove all of the files. This means you are ready to start a new installation when you locate a better match for your system or solve the problem preventing the process. Try starting the installation in Safe Mode to give it a better chance of working this time around.

  • Shut your computer down with the Start menu. Gather your driver installer files and place them on the Desktop before completing this step.
  • Start the system back up again with the power button. Press the F8 button at the top of your keyboard shortly after the boot screen appears, but before Windows itself loads and displays the colored flag. It may take you a few tries to get the timing right on this step.
  • Choose either Safe Mode with Networking or without, depending on your preferences. It is generally best to choose the network-free option if you are adding drivers for devices related to networking, such as wireless adapters and Ethernet ports.
  • Run your installer and complete the driver installation process. Shut down the computer again, then restart it without pressing F8 to boot into normal mode again.
  • Test your driver and device.

Problem Solving: Automatic Driver Scanners

You can also put an end to installation problems with Windows XP drivers by using the right kind of driver assistance software. While there are many programs that use a collection of files to match your device to the right one, not all of them can scan and detect what you have attached to the computer. Pick a driver installer package that scans and automatically picks drivers for you if you aren’t sure what is causing the installation issues with another file. Without this kind of support, you may end up dealing with an endless loop due to the same exact driver.

Categories: Driver FAQ, FAQs, Troubleshooting Tags:

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.

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.

Why Won’t My Favorite Game Play?

September 11th, 2013 No comments

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

 

What Has Changed?

 

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

 

Starting With The Device Drivers

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

System Resources

 

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

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

 

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

 

DirectX Errors And Issues

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

Ten Steps To Take When Buying A Used Computer

September 5th, 2013 No comments

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

 

1. Check The Value

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

 

2. Compare Your Needs

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

 

3. Research The Hardware

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

 

4. Gather Your Software

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

 

5. Consider Upgrades

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

 

6. Test Drive It

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

 

7. Investigate The Device Manager

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

 

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

 

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

 

8. Reformat The System

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

 

9. Consider Changing The OS

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

 

10. Run An Anti-Virus

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

Categories: Performance, Troubleshooting, XP Drivers Tags:

Rolling Back To A Previous Driver

September 3rd, 2013 No comments

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

 

Why Do Drivers Need To Be Rolled Back?

 

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

 

Rolling Drivers Back The Easy Way

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Going Further Back

 

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

 

Manual Removal Of Misbehaving Drivers

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Don’t Always Uninstall

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

 

Removing All Driver Files

 

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

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: