Archive for the ‘XP Drivers’ Category

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.
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Does My Hard Drive Require A Driver?

November 18th, 2013 No comments

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


Your Handy Storage Solution


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


A Common And Confusing Scene


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


Types Of Hard Drives


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


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


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


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


Ways To Locate The SCSI and SATA Drivers You Need


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


Using Your Recovery Or Installation Discs


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


Finding The Drivers When You Know The Makers


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


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


Hunting For Generic Options


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

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The Risks Of Downloading Unverified Drivers

November 14th, 2013 No comments

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


Know Your File Types


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


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

Start With The Manufacturer


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


What To Do With Untrustworthy Files


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

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


Windows Update And Driver Signing


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


Trustworthy Secondary Sources


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


Watch Out For Third Parties


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

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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.
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Six Steps To A New Video Card

November 5th, 2013 No comments

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


Even Beginners Can Do It


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


Step One – Finding The Right Equipment


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


Step Two – Comparing The Options


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


Step Three – Opening The Case


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


Step Four – Removing Existing Cards


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


Step Five – Start It Up


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


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


Step Six – Install Your Drivers


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


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

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

November 5th, 2013 No comments

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


The Endless Clean Up Debate

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


Don’t Lose Your Tools

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


The Conflict Of Manufacturer’s Instructions


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


How To Remove Driver Files


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


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


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


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


Recovery Options


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


Using a System Restore:

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


Setting Up System Restore Before You Make Driver Changes


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


Making A System Restore Point:

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


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

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Can I Use Apple Devices On My Windows XP Computer?

September 23rd, 2013 No comments

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


What Kind of Apple Devices Will Work?


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


Age Matters


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


Manual Apple Device Driver Installation On A Windows XP Computer


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


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


Automatic Updates Are Easier


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


No Windows XP Support For iCloud


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


Avoiding iTunes


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


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


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


Backup Your Collection


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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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