Posts Tagged ‘Microsoft Windows’

The 6 Best Ways to Update Your Drivers

October 28th, 2013 No comments

Drivers are an integral part of Microsoft operating systems: software components that help your computer use its various hardware features … or any new devices that you buy and attach.

This makes drivers very important for managing external data as well as internal functions. Over time, they can steadily lose their relevance if they’re not updated. Generally speaking, you don’t need to update a driver if nothing is wrong, but if you’re noticing problems with important devices or functions, it may be time to search for an upgrade.

Here are some of the most common ways to find the right driver installations, and important considerations for each method.

1. The device itself

From USB to printer drivers, most devices include a download that automatically provides the necessary software when you’re first connecting the device to your PC. Sometimes (although this is increasingly rare) you have a CD with software included on it.

You may be prompted to visit a company website and download from there. Typically, driver software that comes with a device is not very dependable; it tends to be old and obsolete compared to online versions. But if your device is not installing properly, reinstalling the original drivers could be the solution to your problem.

2. The operating system

If you want an easy way to update drivers, look at your Windows operating system. In the Device Manager or a related Windows tool, you will see all the drivers that need to be updated, and you can ask Windows to update your drivers itself.

This does not necessarily mean you will get the latest drivers, but it will provide you with the best updates that Windows can find, and compatibility will probably not be an issue.

3. An aggregation website

Fortunately, others have already done a lot of the work for you. If you want a driver for any external advice, try using a generic search to see what pops up. Some sites will help you quickly locate the right drivers for your operating system with a minimal amount of fuss. They’ll get your downloads in a short amount of time with easy instructions. If you can find a site that does the work for you, use it!

4. Your computer brand site

Sometimes it can be more difficult to locate the driver that you want. In those cases, it’s time to visit the website from which you bought your computer or the brand website that your device belongs to. Dell, HP, Logitech, Lenovo … you get the idea. They may have driver downloads available or at least provide a quick link to the right place to find them.

5. The chipset manufacturer

If you’re determined to get the latest driver for internal functions, visit the manufacturer of the chipset for your computer. The most common manufacturers are companies like Nvidia and Realtek.

These brands have the latest drivers up in record time, since they’re the ones responsible for bringing it to market. Search for your particular chipset model to locate the right drivers. However, you may want to approach this option carefully: the very latest driver updates may come with bugs or compatibility issues. It may actually be preferable to get an older, smoother version.

6. The hardware manufacturer

If you want to go a further step down the supply chain, you can look for the hardware manufacturer itself — the company that makes the actual video card, motherboard, or other hardware component. You can’t get any closer to the source than this.

Many of these manufacturers offer advanced update options that let you customize the update in various ways, to add features or ensure compatibility … as long as you know what you’re doing.

Why Did My Device Suddenly Stop Working?

August 27th, 2013 No comments

It’s a sad but true fact of life that your printer, scanner, or other computer device is most likely to stop working right at the moment you need it the most. Scrambling to discover why your connected peripherals are no longer recognized by Windows XP can increase your stress when you are already under a heavy workload. To keep your homework assignments or work presentations running smoothly, learn the right ways to troubleshoot issues that cause the computer to report a device not working.


Check For Simple Issues


Always start by double checking that a very simple problem isn’t the culprit. For example, try disconnecting and reconnecting any cables between the device and your computer. Many times a USB plug or printer cable is simply loose and unable to properly communicate between the two pieces of equipment. You may even need a new cable if there is physical damage to the exterior. Try connecting the device to another computer to discover if it is the printer or your operating system. If your scanner or camera simply won’t power up at all, it is unlikely that the problem lies with the drivers or software.


Dealing With Common Problems


Once you are sure that the device itself is still functioning properly, you can proceed to discovering the disconnect between the computer system and the peripheral. In many cases, a simple driver issue is the cause. The files are easy to lose, move, accidentally delete, corrupt, or overwrite. Uninstalling something unfamiliar in your computer’s “Add or Remove Programs” window could lead to speakers that no longer emit sound or a flickering black and white monitor. There are a few basic steps to take to find out if you are experiencing Windows XP driver problems.


 Start With The Device Manager


As with nearly any task involving Windows XP drivers, your work will begin with the Device Manager. Accessories that worked well at some point in the past may or may not show up in this window. If the device driver was not successfully installed in the first place, you should definitely see warning signs. Open this tool by:

  1. Click on the Start menu button at the lower right corner of the screen, then click once on Control Panel.
  2. Double-click on System, then click just once on the Hardware tab. You should now see the Device Manager button, which also needs a click.
  3. The Device Manager window will display all of the devices currently connected to your computer. If they are installed, an accurate listing should be found under the correct categorization. Devices with detected driver issues will display a bright yellow icon with an exclamation point in the center. Look for the device that is not responding and double click on it.
  4. If there was an issue detected, the window that appears may have a button labeled “Reinstall Driver” near the bottom. Clicking it will open the Hardware Wizard, which connects you to Windows Update for automatic driver updates.

 Replacing Missing Or Corrupted Drivers


Checking the database provided by Microsoft for Windows XP may very well solve your problem. Manual installation is also possible. It may be the better option if you have visited the manufacturer’s website and they offered an updated file to deal with issues with previous driver versions. In other cases, you may need to rollback a driver to a previous version if the newest updates introduces issues.


Manual Device Driver Updates


When you are ready to install the latest and greatest update to the drivers, start with the process listed above. Open the Device Manager through the Systems window, then double-click on the device in question and hit “Reinstall Drivers”. Then:

  1. Click on “No, not this time” when the Hardware Update Wizard requests a connection to Windows Update.
  2. Choose the “Install from a list or specific location” option on the next page. Click next.
  3. Use the first option and the subsequent file location browser to point the wizard to the files you have downloaded. Uncheck the “Search removable media” option unless you have the files loaded on a CD or DVD.
  4. Hit Next and let the wizard handle the installation process for you.

Rolling Back Drivers And Restoring Your Settings


It is immensely frustrating when your printer or external hard drive was working just fine yesterday, but it won’t respond today. If you just updated or reinstalled the drivers when the problem occurred, try rolling back to a previous version:

  1. Open the Device Manager with the above instructions. Find the driver you are experiencing issues with and double-click on it.
  2. Select the Driver tab and click on the “Rollback Driver” button. This will allow the computer to search out the previously installed file and use it once again.

Sometimes the older driver files are simply too corrupted or were accidentally deleted, making them impossible to reinstall. You can also try restoring your system to a previous point if you had Windows XP System Restore Points enabled when the device was working. To give this a shot, try:

  1. Start the process in the Administrator profile for the system. Open the Start menu, then navigate through the Accessories menu to find the listing entitled System Tools. Click on this, then click on System Restore.
  2. Selecting the “Restore my computer to an earlier time” option will allow you to bring back deleted system files and restore registry settings that might be interfering with the device.
  3. Choose a save point from a time when you know the device was working properly. Run through the rest of the menus and allow your system to restart.
  4. Check to see if it functions properly again on the newly booted system. If not, use the on-screen prompts to reverse the restore point.

It’s unusual that a device will need a full uninstallation and fresh installation to start running again. In most cases, you can use the steps above to solve driver or registry problems in just a few minutes. Be sure to solve any virus infestations or hard drive errors that might be leading to corruption and damage of your driver files.

Resolving the "Unknown Device" error in Windows XP / 2003

January 17th, 2011 1 comment

For some reason you had to reinstall Windows. Most of the devices attached to the computer were recognized by Windows and the drivers installed automatically. But, when you check the Device Manager to see whether all the drivers are okay, you find a yellow question mark section labeled ‘Other devices’, which is already expanded. Under that, you see a device for which Windows couldn’t install a proper driver.

Sometimes the device is identified correctly, but Windows doesn’t have the correct driver for it. At other times, the device isn’t identified at all and you’d see an "unknown device" listed. Since Windows doesn’t say what the device is, how do you know, what driver you need to download and install? Everyone won’t take the cover off the computer case and inspect. Even if you can, you may be just lazy to open the computer. Still, you may not know what the device could be. What do you do in such a case?

This "Unknown Device" can be seen as a yellow question mark, if you open the Device Manager. There may be more than one device under the question mark.

Most of the time, the device would have a unique ID burned into it. This ID can be used to find information about the device.

How to find this ID?

Open the Device Manager. Open the properties for the "Unknown Device" and then click the ‘Details‘ tab. Select ‘Hardware IDs‘ from the drop-down list. There may be many lines of junk. You only need the first line. It contains all the information needed to find the correct driver.

Taking the following example, VID stands for vendor ID and the number following it is 03E8. Put this into the PCI Vendor and Device List database’s Search box and then click Search. Once you know the device name and manufacturer, you can search a driver for it, download and install it. Here’s a video about using PCI database.

Unknown Device Identifier is a small freeware program from Huntersoft, which identifies unknown devices, not recognized by Windows. It searches working drivers on the Internet and contacts hardware manufacturers or vendors directly.


It comes in handy when you reinstall your operating system and cannot figure out what to do with all those devices with yellow question marks in the device manager.

Unknown Device Identifier is a nice program. It’s easy to use and is a great help to people who need to install drivers for undetected devices on their computers.

Troubleshooting RealTek AC97 Drivers

March 14th, 2010 4 comments

RealTek AC97 Troubleshooting

Audio drivers for your computer can come in many different types depending on the computer  and operating system you are using. One typical audio driver that is often found on many PC  systems is the Realtek AC 97 Audio driver. When there are problems with sound from your PC, you will need to troubleshoot your sound card  to find the cause. This can involve many steps so to help with the process of troubleshooting RealTek on your system we have compiled the following steps:

  1. Check the BIOS settingsThe first thing you need to consider when encountering problems with RealTek AC97 is the settings on the BIOS, especially if the computer is newly-bought. The audio controller for your computer may be disabled. You may also encounter this issue when you have recently reset your BIOS settings to defaults, or when you just upgraded or “flashed” your BIOS.To go to the system BIOS, you need to restart your computer. Then, while the computer is performing some memory tests, press the F2 (or delete) key repeatedly until you see the BIOS screen of your computer. The following image shows how the BIOS screen looks like:

    RealTek Bios Settings

    BIOS utilities may differ in interface and parameters, depending on the manufacturer. The above figure displays an AwardBIOS setup utility. If you there is anything unclear with your BIOS setup, consult your manufacturer’s documentation.

  2. Clean the Prefetch and Temp Folders (Windows only)Some temporary files that your operating system has created may prevent your AC97 driver from functioning correctly. In order to remove those files, you may need to log in to your system in safe mode. To enter safe mode, restart the computer, and while the system is performing memory tests, press F8 repeatedly until you see the Windows Boot Menu. Select either Safe Mode or Safe Mode with Networking in the menu. Note that if you see Windows XP loading without displaying the boot menu first, then your computer will enter in normal mode and not in safe mode. You will need to repeat the procedure all over again, until you have successfully entered the Windows Boot menu and selected safe mode as the boot option.You may need to restart the computer after cleaning the prefetch and temp folders.

    Realtek Safe Mode

  3. Reinstall the Device Driver The reinstallation of a device driver generally involves two steps:
      • Uninstallation of the driver
      • Fresh installation of the driver

    To completely reinstall a driver, the uninstallation of the current driver is necessary. This is to ensure that all driver files will be replaced.

    To uninstall the RealTek AC driver, go to the device manager by clicking on Start and giving a right-click on the My Computer or Computer icon. Then, click on Manage. The Computer Management window would appear. Click on Device Manager and the window would display all the devices installed on your computer. Click on the plus (+) sign before Sound, video and game controllers. Right-click on the AC97 audio controller. Then, click Uninstall.

    RealTek device Manager

    There is another way of going to the device manager. Click on Start->Run. Then, type devmgmt.msc. Press enter and these steps will lead you to the same device manager.

    For a Realtek install, you may use the driver installation CD, download the latest RealTek ac97 driver from the manufacturer, or run a system scan to automatically update the RealTek AC97 Drivers. When installing the driver from the CD, simply insert the CD into your optical drive. You will then given the necessary instructions in installing your device driver.

    Alternatively, a RealTek 97 driver download is available at the Realtek website, or at third-party Realtek download sites. You should be able to find there the correct driver for your operating system, especially a Realtek driver for Windows XP. If the downloaded file is in compressed (ZIP format), you will need to extract the ac97 drivers first. Then, simply run the setup application and follow the installation instructions.

    If the controller is missing in device manager, it means that the driver is not currently installed on your computer. Skip the uninstallation phase and proceed with the installation of the driver. If the controller is followed by a yellow question mark (?) or exclamation point (!), there is a problem with the device driver currently installed on the system, and the instructions in this troubleshooting step must be strictly followed.

    Before uninstalling the Realtek driver AC97, make sure you already have a copy of the driver installation files so you wouldn’t end up with a driverless device. Uninstalling the driver for a device would render that device completely unusable by your computer.

    You will need to restart your computer for the changes to take effect. Restart right after uninstalling the driver, and after reinstalling it.

    Reinstalling a device driver is a lengthy process. If you don’t want to get involved with this procedure for some reason, you may run this automated driver scanner to install the correct driver for your sound card with less effort on your part. This is particularly useful when the driver CD is missing, or you encounter issues with a Realtek download.

  4. Reinstall the Chipset DriversIn some computer systems, chipset drivers also play a part in the performance of your audio device. If you still encounter a problem with the device after installing the driver, you may need to reinstall your computer’s chipset drivers.To reinstall the chipset drivers, simply follow the instructions as mentioned in the previous troubleshooting step (Reinstall the Device Driver). The only difference is that you need to find where the chipset drivers are located in your device manager. They are usually found under Display Adapters.
  5. Download the Latest Updates for Your Operating SystemIf the device is still not working after performing the steps mentioned above, you may need to perform an update on your operating system. Your operating system will usually notify you if there are critical or important updates that would need to be downloaded and installed on your computer. For windows users, you may update your OS by clicking on Start->Control Panel and then selecting Windows Update.
  6. Test another sound cardIf you have reached to this point in troubleshooting and the device is still not working, you may need to test the functionality of your sound card. Remove your sound card and replace it with a similar device that is known to be in good condition. If the newly-installed sound card solves the issue, the other sound card is faulty and may need to be replaced. Otherwise, proceed to the next troubleshooting step.

    If you are using a sound controller integrated into your motherboard, or if there is no alternative sound card available, ignore this troubleshooting step and proceed to the next one.

    Each type of computer has its own architecture. For instructions in removing and installing the sound card for your computer, consult your manufacturer’s or distributor’s documentation.

  7. Reinstall the Entire Operating SystemReinstalling the operating system may not sound good. But if the previous troubleshooting steps did not resolve the issue with the AC97, this procedure may be necessary.

    If this is the first time that you are going to reinstall the operating system, you may need to ask for professional help. Contact one of your computer or operating system manufacturer’s technical support staff for assistance.

    Make sure you backup your important files first before performing this step, since this procedure will wipe out everything in your hard drive.

  8. Flash the BIOSEvery device on your computer has its own driver. But how about the motherboard? The fact is, the BIOS is somewhat the “driver” for your entire motherboard.  It synchronizes almost every hardware installed on your computer system. Flashing the BIOS is similar to updating your operating system e.g. Windows update, etc., except the fact that with this procedure, you are dealing with your BIOS and not with your OS.Before flashing your computer’s BIOS, you will need to determine where your computer system came from. If your computer system is custom-built, visit the manufacturer of your system’s motherboard for the BIOS updater application. If your system is pre-built by computer manufacturers such as Dell, Asus, or HP, visit their website and see if there is an update available.

    Make sure you have performed the previous troubleshooting steps before going on with this procedure. You may skip reinstalling the operating system and do this right away, especially if you do not have the time or the resources needed to install a fresh copy of your OS into your computer. However, this is not advisable. If your BIOS experienced an error during flashing, the process can ruin your motherboard. This is the reason why flashing the BIOS is one of the most feared steps in computer troubleshooting. Should you feel uncomfortable in performing this procedure, you may need to request assistance from professionals.

  9. Replace motherboardProvided that all of the above-mentioned troubleshooting steps have been performed, and the problem still persists, this may mean that your motherboard is unable to handle your AC97 device correctly, and may need to be replaced.

Vga.dll File Not Found Error

December 9th, 2009 No comments

Vga.dll errors are caused by when the vga.dll file is either removed or corrupted. It could indicate a registry problem, a virus or malware, or sometimes a hardware failure.

How to solve Vga.dll errors:

*If you can’t start Windows normally, use the Safe Mode.

  • Check your Recycle Bin to see if vga.dll is there. If you see it there, you probably accidentally deleted it. You can restore it from here. (If you emptied your Recycle Bin you and you know you deleted the file, you can try running a file recovery program to restore it.)
  • Run a virus scan on your computer to see if you are affected by a virus or malware. vga.dll file errors can be caused by a virus. The file might still be on your machine, but is masked.
  • If running a certain program causes the error message, try to reinstall that program.
  • If you get the error message when you are using a hardware device, try updating the drivers.
  • If the error message started showing up after updating drivers, you might try rolling them back.
  • Run the System File Checker.
  • Install any available Windows Updates. Many service packs and patches actually replace or update your .dll files.
  • Test your memory and your hard drive. You might need to replace one or the other.
  • Use a free registry cleaner to repair your .dll files
  • As a last resort, if none of the above tips work, you might consider doing a clean installation of Windows. Keep in mind that your hard drive will be wiped clean. Make sure you have everything backed up and know how to reinstall everything you need. If you see the error message after doing this, you can be certain that the problem is hardware related.