Investing in a new peripheral or upgrade for your trusty computer is always exciting. However, even the most well prepared computer owners can face a daunting set of challenges when trying to get their latest device to communicate properly with their laptop or desktop. Only a handful of very simple devices, like USB flash drives and input devices like keyboards, are natively supported. Windows XP simply doesn’t include the drivers needed for a wide assortment of optional accessories. Your computer may attempt to locate these files automatically, but many computer owners are left stumped when that process fails.
How Windows Update Works
When you attach a peripheral to your computer, the operating system will recognize it and attempt to discover what it is and what type of files it needs to run. If the device is recognized properly and the drivers are already present, you won’t need to do anything else. Unrecognized or supported attachments will usually triggers the Windows Update program to run the Hardware Update Wizard. A window will appear to help guide you through the installation process. Windows Update requests permission to search Microsoft’s database for compatible drivers, which is a good step to try. However, only a handful of devices can be installed this way because there are simply too many manufacturers and items for the database to cover them all.
If trying the online search through Update fails, don’t despair. There are many other options for locating appropriate drivers if your device didn’t come with an installation disk or detailed instructions. Start with a visit to the manufacturer’s website. Unless your item was built decades ago or the company has disappeared, you should be able to find drivers through their website. Start your search by visiting pages designated for support. You may need to get the model number of your equipment before you can properly utilize the support system, since most manufacturers need to know the exact model you have to connect you with the right drivers. Unfortunately, many drivers provided by manufacturers are simple files, not automatic installers. Trying to install these files on your own is a little more complicated than just double clicking on them.
Using Windows Update For Manual Installation
Computer owners that find the drivers they need and download them can utilize Windows Update again to streamline installation. One of the fastest ways to bring up the window is to reattach the unsupported device, but you can also access it without having to remove and reconnect the device.
Try these steps:
- Click on the Start menu by navigating to the Windows logo located in the lower left corner of your screen.
- Click once on the Control Panel tab to open it. Double-click on the System icon, then click on the Hardware tab.
- Open the Device Manager and wait for it to load completely. Your unidentified equipment should appear somewhere in the list with a yellow warning icon next to it with an exclamation point. If it doesn’t, try disconnecting it and reconnecting it.
- Right click on the name of the device, even if it doesn’t match the actual name of the item, and click on Update Driver. You can also simply double click the name.
- The Hardware Update Wizard should immediately open. Follow the same process as you originally tried, but choose to look for the driver on the local hard drive rather than letting Windows search for it online.
- When the file dialog window opens, navigate to the folder that holds the downloaded driver file and select it. Windows should then open the file and begin installing it. If an error occurs during this process, you may have an incompatible driver file.
Alternative Installations For Printers
Printers, digital cameras, webcams, and scanners often do not appear in the Device Manager. If you are trying to install one of these items and you can’t seem to locate it with the following steps, don’t panic. Windows XP often handles the drivers and settings for these items separately, depending on how the device is recognized. You may need to visit the Control Panel again and try a different approach.
For printers (including all in one models with scanners and fax machines):
- Open the Start Menu once again, then find the Control Panel tab and click on it.
- Double-click on the Printers and Other Hardware icon. Look for the tab labeled Printers and Faxes and select it with a click. Locate the printer that you are trying to install. It may be represented by a generic icon with a yellow caution icon on it. Right click on the icon and select Properties from the menu that pops up.
- Select the Advanced button, and click on New Driver to open the Add Printer Driver Wizard. This program works in the same way as the Hardware Update Wizard, so follow the instructions for the previous installation method starting with step five.
- If your device isn’t shown when you open the Printers and Other Hardware window, look for “Add Device” on the left side to initiate the basic installation process.
For scanners or cameras:
- Open the Control Panel once again by utilizing the Start Menu. Find the icon labeled Scanners and Cameras and give it a double-click.
- Find the device you are trying to install, or reconnect it if the computer isn’t recognizing it yet. Double clicking on the icon should open the Scanner and Camera Installation Wizard, which again runs in basically the same fashion as the original Hardware Update Wizard.
- If your device isn’t shown when you open the Scanners and Camera window, look for “Add Device” on the left side to initiate the basic installation process.
Your printer or camera may have specific software in addition to the Windows XP drivers that is necessary for transferring files. Check the manufacturer’s website to be sure that there are no additional files needed other than the drivers.