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Posts Tagged ‘Troubleshooting’

Repairing Windows XP using the Recovery Console

March 13th, 2011 No comments


NOTE:This solution is only for solving the errors and issues given below, if the computer is not infected by spyware and viruses. The commands given below may rebuild even some heavily infected computers, but there’s no such guarantee. If you doubt that your computer is infected, remove the spyware and viruses first, before trying this procedure.

Many people turn off their computers at night, all over the world, but some people, after turning them on, the next morning, get an error screen instead of the Starting Windows XP screen. The error can be any one of the following, in addition to others:

Windows could not start because the following file is missing or corrupt:

C:\WINDOWS\SYSTEM32\CONFIG\SYSTEM

You can attempt to repair this file by starting Windows Setup using the original Setup CD-ROM.

Select ‘R’ at the first screen to start repair.

Windows could not start because the below file is missing or corrupt:

C:\WINDOWS\System32\Ntoskrnl.exe

Windows could not start because the below file is missing or corrupt:

C:\WINDOWS\System32\HAL.dll 

NTLDR is missing.

Press any key to restart

 

Invalid boot.ini.

Press any key to restart

Now, your computer doesn't boot in the normal way, so you try booting it using the safe mode. But, you still get the same error message. If you are somewhat knowledgeable and know about the recovery console, you boot into the recovery console and try the FIXBOOT and FIXMBR commands but these too don't help. You want access to some critical data, but how do you access it when Windows won't boot even using the safe mode?

If you call a computer technician, he would most probably tell you that the only solution to these errors is to backup your data by connecting the hard disk to another computer and then reinstalling Windows from scratch. Then, installing and configuring your software programs and restoring your data back. A very cumbersome process and it can take many weeks or even months to configure all your Windows and software settings, the way they were previously. Apart from the time and trouble this would take, you also have to spend a hefty amount for his work.

So, how do you troubleshoot and repair the above errors yourself? Continue reading below.

First, boot into the Recovery Console, using the Windows XP installation CD, or if you have the Recovery Console installed on your hard disk and available as an option in the Windows boot menu, use that.

Most people would have just one Windows installation. However, if you have more than one, select the one that gives the above errors. Once you are in the Recovery Console, type the commands in sequence, given in step 7.

The BOOTCFG /Rebuild command fixes the following:

  • Windows Hardware Abstraction Layer (HAL)
  • Corrupt registry hives (\WINDOWS\SYSTEM32\CONFIG\xxxxxx)
  • Invalid BOOT.INI file
  • A corrupt NTOSKRNL.EXE
  • A missing NT Loader (NTLDR)
    The repair process is harmless and may or may not apply to other types of errors and blue screens of death (BSOD), but it’s not guaranteed and xpdrivers won’t be responsible for any harm, it may cause.
  1. After ensuring that the computer BIOS is set to boot from the CD drive first, boot your computer with your Windows XP installation CD in the CD drive. If you don’t know how to set the BIOS to boot the computer from the CD, view this page.

    The following YouTube videos would also be helpful:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qKaKj6uRLSM
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VLaoajhiN_k
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=exU85jk9UyM

  2. After the computer boots and Windows XP Setup starts, do not select the option which says: "Press F2 to initiate the Automated System Recovery (ASR) tool." Let the Setup proceed till you see the following screen. At this screen, press the letter "R" on your keyboard, to start the Recovery Console.

    Recovery_Console_Welcome_to_Setup_Screen

  3. After pressing the letter R, the Windows XP Setup prompts you to select a valid Windows installation (this would mostly be number "1"). Select the installation number ("1" in most cases) and hit the Enter key. If you had set an administrator password during the initial Windows XP installation, type the password and then hit enter.
  4. If you don’t remember the administrator password, or don’t remember if you had set one or not, try pressing the enter key instead of typing any password. This could work in many cases. 

    But, what to do if the recovery console doesn’t accept a blank password and if you don’t remember the one you had set during installation? Click here to know more, how to recover or reset your Windows XP password with some free tools.

    Once, the Setup accepts the password, it greets you with the following screen, which tells you that the recovery console is ready to accept commands:

    Recovery_console_Admin_Login

  5. There are seven commands which you have to type one by one in sequence to repair any of the above mentioned errors. Type one command per line and hit the enter key after typing each. Remember to replace the drive letter (C: in this case), with the appropriate drive letter for your Windows installation. The commands are:
    • CD .. or CD \
    • ATTRIB –RSH C:\boot.ini
    • COPY C:\boot.ini C:\boot.bak
    • DEL C:\boot.ini
    • BOOTCFG /Rebuild
    • CHKDSK /R
    • FIXBOOT
  6. The first command, CD .. (or CD \) brings you out of the Windows directory, into the root directory, C:.

    Recovery_Console_CD..

  7. Once you’re at the C:\> prompt, you can start repairing XP. First of all, you have to change the attributes of the boot.ini file, which is hidden from normal view. BOOT.INI controls what operating systems the Windows boot process can see, how to load them, and where they’re located on your hard disk. Type the below command at the command prompt and press the enter key. to remove the system, hidden and read-only attributes of boot.ini:

    ATTRIB -RSH C:\boot.ini

  8. After removing the attributes with the above command, make a backup of boot.ini, using the ‘copy’ command. Then, delete the original boot.ini, using the ‘del’ command, as shown below.

    Recovery_Console_del_boot.ini

  9. The BOOTCFG / REBUILD is the most important of all the commands. It searches for existing Windows XP installations, rebuilds essential Windows’ components, recompiles the BOOT.INI file and corrects many common Windows’ errors.

    There are two important steps in this command:

    • You must use the /FASTDETECT as an option to the BOOTCFG command, when the command asks for an OS Load Option.
    • If you have a CPU with the Intel’s XD or AMD’s NX buffer overflow protection, you must also use /NOEXECUTE=OPTIN as an OS Load Option, as shown below. Do not put NOEXECUTE as an OS Load Option if your CPU doesn’t have the Intel’s XD or AMD’s NX buffer overflow protection.
    • For the identifier, you can type "Microsoft Windows XP Home Edition", if you have Windows XP Home Edition, for example.Recovery_Console_bootcfg_command
  10. This command checks and fixes any physical errors on the partition containing Windows XP. This is just a simple command, type it at the C:\> prompt:

    CHKDSK /R

    The command can take some time to complete, especially if there are some errors, as it has to check the whole partition. If you don’t learn or understand how to use any other Recovery Console commands, learn this one for sure. In many cases, this single command has fixed computers which wouldn’t boot into Windows. After the command finishes, move on to the last step.

    Recovery_Console_chkdsk_command Recovery_Console_chkdsk_report

  11. This is also a simple command. Just type FIXBOOT at the C:\> prompt. This command writes a new boot sector to the hard drive. Press "Y" when the command asks if you want to write a new boot sector to partition C:, and press the Enter key to confirm.

    Recovery_Console_fixboot_command

  12. The procedure is complete and you can type the command, EXIT, followed by pressing the Enter key, to reboot the computer. If you are lucky, the computer should boot into Windows XP as if nothing had happened. If you were successful in booting into Windows XP, you saved yourself a lot of headache, frustration, data loss and paying big bucks to a computer technician.

Windows XP Crash Recovery – When all else Fails

January 21st, 2011 1 comment

WARNING: Do not use the procedure described in this post, if your computer has an OEM-installed operating system (Dell, HP, Compaq, etc). The system hive on OEM installations creates user accounts and passwords that were not there previously. If you use the procedure described in this post, you may not be able to log back into the recovery console to restore the original registry hives.

NOTE:

  • This post assumes that you have tried other recovery methods and still can’t access the system, except by using Recovery Console. If you haven’t tried other methods of recovery yet, try them first. Click here to know a few other methods of recovery, before you try this method. However if you’ve already tried the other methods, go ahead and try the one mentioned below.
  • Make sure to replace all five registry hives. If you replace only a single hive or two, this can cause problems because software and hardware may have settings in more than one location in the registry.
  • This procedure assumes that Windows XP is installed to the C:\Windows folder. Make sure to change C:\Windows to the appropriate windows folder if it is in a different location.

Since your Windows already crashed, you’re probably viewing this post on another computer. It’s better if you take a printout of this post, because you’ll have to type many commands to recover your corrupted Windows XP installation. Even if you don’t have to type them, it’s better to have a printout. If you don’t want to print the images, here’s a text-only version of this post.

It’s possible that somehow your Windows registry is corrupt. But there is a backup of the registry! Since Windows doesn’t start, we’ll have to restore this backed up registry files, manually. How do you do that? Follow the procedure detailed below.

1. Boot the computer with your Windows XP CD in the drive. If you see a message like "Press any key to boot from CD …", go ahead and press a key on your keyboard.

Press_any_key_CD_boot

2. If you don’t see any such message or if your computer doesn’t boot from the CD, go into your BIOS/CMOS setup, by rebooting the computer and pressing the appropriate key (like F1, F2, F10, DEL, etc).

image 

3. If you don’t even see the message to press the above keys to enter the BIOS setup, read your motherboard manual on how to enter the BIOS setup. These videos about BIOS and CMOS may be helpful too:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qKaKj6uRLSM

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VLaoajhiN_k

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=exU85jk9UyM

4. Now, when booting from the XP CD, when you see the Welcome to Setup screen, press R to start the Recovery Console.

XP_Welcome_to_Setup_Screen

5. You will see the following screen. Type 1 and press the Enter key. You’ll have to enter the Administrator password. If you didn’t set a password, when you installed Windows XP, just press the Enter key.

Recovery_Console_Admin_Login

NOTE: If you have access to another computer, to save time, you can copy the text in step six and seven, and paste it in a text file called "Regcopy1.txt" (for example). You can also download this text file and save it on a USB pen drive, before you run the below command. To use this file, run the following command when you start in Recovery Console:

batch regcopy1.txt

To know, how to access files on other drives when in the recovery console (USB pen drive, for example), type the following three commands, one per line, and press the Enter key after each command (make sure to type the space on both sides of the equal sign):

AllowWildCards = TRUE
AllowAllPaths = TRUE
AllowRemovableMedia = TRUE

6. Now type the commands you see below, one per line and then press the Enter key, after each command:

md c:\tmp
cd\system32\config
copy system c:\tmp\system.bak
copy software c:\tmp\software.bak
copy sam c:\tmp\sam.bak
copy security c:\tmp\security.bak
copy default c:\tmp\default.bak
del system software sam security default

After you enter each of the above copy commands, the system will reply with a message like "1 file(s) copied".

7. Now, type this set of commands, one per line and press the Enter key after each (Take care to type the space and the dot as shown):

copy c:\windows\repair\system .
copy c:\windows\repair\software .
copy c:\windows\repair\sam .
copy c:\windows\repair\security .
copy c:\windows\repair\default .

8. Now type exit and press the Enter key. The system will reboot.

9. Remove the CD from the drive and boot into Windows normally, as you do before. If, even after doing each of the above steps correctly, Windows doesn’t boot, you’ll have to do a clean install of Windows, after taking a backup of your data. There is no other way to recover.

But, the question is – How do you take a backup of a computer which doesn’t even boot or start Windows? Click here to read more on this topic and backup your computer before you format the hard drive or reinstall Windows from scratch.

However, if the system boots into Windows, then do the following:

a. Start Windows Explorer. On the Tools menu, click Folder Options and then click the View tab.

Windows_Explorer_Folder_Options

b. Under Hidden Files and Folders, select the radio button "Show Hidden Files and Folders", and then clear the "Hide Protected Operating System Files (Recommended)" check box. Also clear the "Use Simple File Sharing (Recommended)" checkbox. This is the last checkbox under the Advanced settings, so you’ll have to scroll down.

c. Click Yes when a dialog box is displayed. Then, click OK to close Folder Options.
Folder_Options

d. Now, check whether you have an NTFS or a FAT32 file system. How do you check if you have NTFS or FAT32 file system? In My Computer or Windows Explorer, right-click the C drive (or your Windows drive, if other than C) and then click Properties.

C_Drive_Properties

e. If the file system on C drive is NTFS, Windows won’t let you open this folder, but there’s a solution. Under the C drive, right-click on the System Volume Information folder and select Properties. In the drive properties, click the Security tab. Click the Add button, and then in the box that’s labeled "Enter the object names to select", type the username that you use to log on to Windows. This is shown in the image below.

If your file system is FAT32, you don’t have to do anything like the above. You can access the System Volume Information folder without any problems.

System_Volume_Information_Add_User

f. Now, open the System Volume Information folder. This folder appears dimmed, that’s fine.

g. This folder contains some _restore {GUID} folders such as "_restore{87BD3667-3246-476B-923F-F86E30B3E7F8}". Open a folder that was created before the current date and time. You may have to click Details on the View menu to check this.

h. There may be one or more folders starting with the name "RP x", under this folder. These are the restore points. Open one of these folders to locate a Snapshot subfolder.

_restore_folders

i. The following path is an example of a folder path to the Snapshot folder:

C:\System Volume Information\_restore{D86480E3-73EF-47BC-A0EBA81BE6EE3ED8}\RP1\Snapshot

j. From the Snapshot folder, copy the following files to the C:\tmp folder with the mouse (by Ctrl-clicking them):

_registry_user_.default
_registry_machine_security
_registry_machine_software
_registry_machine_system
_registry_machine_sam

_restore_snapshot_folder

k. Rename the above five files as given below (using the mouse or the F2 function key):

_registry_user_.default        default
_registry_machine_security     security
_registry_machine_software     software
_registry_machine_system       system
_registry_machine_sam          sam

l. Once again, put your Windows XP installation CD into your CD Drive and reboot the computer.

m. Again, press R for the recovery console when you see the message for recovery, just like you did in step 4 above.

NOTE: If you have access to another computer, to save time, you can copy the text commands in step n, and paste it in a text file called "Regcopy2.txt" (for example). You can also download this text file and save it on a USB pen drive, before you run the below command.To use this file, run the following command when you start in Recovery Console:

batch regcopy2.txt

n. At the console, type these commands one per line and press enter after every command (take care to type the dots exactly as shown in each command):

cd\system32\config
del sam security software default system
copy c:\tmp\software .
copy c:\tmp\system .
copy c:\tmp\sam .
copy c:\tmp\security .
copy c:\tmp\.default .

o. Now, type exit and remove the CD. Boot normally into Windows and you must be back to normal. In case, the restore point is not the one which you wanted, you can use the System Restore to restore a different restore point. This time you are already in Windows so you don’t have to use the recovery console. For more information, how to use the System Restore in Windows XP, click here.

Help: The Sound on my Computer is not Working

April 21st, 2010 4 comments

The Sound on my computer is not working. What should I do?

OR

I can’t hear any sounds from the speakers or play any music on my computer. What is the problem?

There can be more than one reason, why the computer can’t play any sounds. These are discussed below.

If you have a desktop computer, it may or may not have a separate sound card. But in case of laptops, the sound card is integrated into the motherboard and cannot be removed, so some of the solutions may not apply to laptops.  Also, laptops come with built-in speakers, so the external speakers and cabling problems may not apply here, unless you use external speakers or headphones.

So, where do you start, when you can’t hear any sounds from your computer? Try the steps given below, one by one.

1. Reboot the computer

Before we start with the solutions, did you try the simplest solution first? Rebooting or restarting the computer is the simplest solution and should be tried first. If you didn’t already reboot, try it now. The sounds may just work after a reboot.

2. Enable the System Sounds

Can you hear the Windows startup sounds from the computer? If you can hear the Windows startup and shutdown sounds, the sound card is working fine. If you can’t hear any startup sounds, enable the System Sounds from the Control Panel, if they are disabled.

Enable_System_Sounds
Enable System Sounds. (Click for a larger image)

If you aren’t able to enable the system sounds and they are grayed out, you may need to reinstall the sound driver.

3. Is the problem only with an audio CD?

Are you trying to play an audio CD, and not getting any sound? If you can hear the System Sounds, but can’t hear anything from the audio CD, even though your audio player software shows that it’s playing the disc, the problem is most likely with the digital cable (see image 1 below) that goes from the CD/DVD drive to the sound card (image 2 below) (or to the motherboard).

One side of this cable goes into the back of the CD/DVD drive and the other goes into the sound card or on to the motherboard (in case of motherboards with built-in sound).

CD_DVD_Digital_Audio_Cable   CD_DVD_Connectors
Digital Audio Cable                IDE CD/DVD Connectors
 

4. Are the speakers properly connected?

Are the speakers connected to the proper sound port / jack, at the back of the computer? Are they powered ON? External speakers generally have a separate power adapter, which plugs into the wall socket or any other power source. Is the speaker volume control, set to a comfortable level? If not, turn it to the middle position.

If in doubt, test your speakers by connecting them to another sound device like CD/DVD player or a radio/tape player, or any sound source. If you can hear sounds from the speakers, they are fine.

Check that the speaker pin is connected to the green jack at the back of the computer.

Sound_Card_Jacks
Sound Card Jacks

Also, check that the sound (check speaker icon in the system tray) isn’t muted. Such a simple thing, which can happen accidentally, can confuse some people when they can’t hear sounds from their computers. This can get overlooked because the speaker icon may be lost between many other icons.  Click it and un-mute the sound, if it’s muted.

Note: If you can’t see the speaker icon in the system tray, you may need to enable it from the Control Panel. From the Control Panel, double-click "Sound and Audio Devices" and check the box that says "Place volume icon in the taskbar" and click OK.

Taskbar_Volume_Icon_Enable
Add volume Icon to Taskbar

5. Test with a pair of headphones

Try plugging in a pair of headphones in place of the speakers, to check whether you can hear anything. Play a song or music CD or any sound file, which you may have on the computer. If you don’t have one handy, you can run a command to test your sound:

Click the Start button, and then click Run (or Search, in Windows 7 / Vista). Type the following command and then press the Enter key:

dxdiag

DirectX_Diagnostic_Tool
DirectX Diagnostic Tool

If you can’t see the name of the sound driver, or aren’t able to hear the sound by using the ‘Test DirectSound’ button, or you get an error, the problem may be with the sound driver. Reinstall the sound driver.

6. Try doing a System Restore

If the sound worked sometime ago and now it isn’t working for some reason, the simplest solution for re-installing the sound driver is to do a System Restore. Restore the system to a date that you know, when your sound worked. Check out the following links for a YouTube video and short tutorials on System Restore.

Note: Current documents, files and e-mails are not affected by System Restore. If you get an error like “Restoration Incomplete. Your computer cannot be restored", undo the last action by selecting “Undo my last restoration”. If you restored the system recently, the “Undo my last restoration” option is displayed in the System Restore list. You can use it to undo your most recent restore. This option is available only after you do a restore.

Here’s a YouTube video on how to restore a system with System Restore.

For more information about System Restore, visit the following link:

Sytem Restore FAQ

For Windows 7 or Vista:

http://www.howtogeek.com/howto/windows-vista/using-windows-vista-system-restore/

http://www.vistax64.com/tutorials/76905-system-restore-how.html

7. Manually, diagnose the sound driver

If System Restore didn’t help or you get a message that System Restore couldn’t be completed, try the following:

Start the Device Manager (Start -> Run -> devmgmt.msc and hit the Enter key).  In Device Manager, Click the + sign next to "Sound, video and game controllers". See that the sound driver that you noted from dxdiag above, is listed.

Double-click this sound driver. Device Manager should give a status message that the driver is working fine. If the driver isn’t there or if it shows a yellow exclamation mark, shows under other devices, or gives any other kind of status message, or there’s no sound driver at all, reinstall the driver. In any case, it doesn’t harm to reinstall the sound driver.

From this sound driver properties page, you may also click the Troubleshoot button, to open the Sound Troubleshooter in the Windows Help and Support Center.

Sound_Troubleshooter_in_Windows_Help
Sound Troubleshooter in the Windows Help and Support Center

You can also visit the following link about tips for fixing common sound problems:

http://windows.microsoft.com/en-US/windows-vista/Tips-for-fixing-common-sound-problems

8. Enable/disable the built-in sound support in the BIOS

If your motherboard has built-in sound support, make sure that it’s enabled in the System BIOS/CMOS. However, if you have a separate sound card, and your motherboard’s built-in sound is also enabled in the BIOS/CMOS, there can be a conflict between the two sound cards. In this case, disable the built-in sound support from the BIOS/CMOS, if it’s not already disabled.

 Enable_Onboard_Sound
Enable/disable the built-in sound support in BIOS

Here’s a video on how to enter the System BIOS/CMOS:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VLaoajhiN_k

And here’s another one:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tc1t3c5Yke8

Here’s a three-part video about everything you would want to know about the System BIOS/CMOS settings:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qKaKj6uRLSM

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VLaoajhiN_k

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=exU85jk9UyM

9. Reinstall Windows

If your motherboard’s built-in sound isn’t working, even after re-installing the sound driver, doing a System Restore, you can try reinstalling Windows.

Here are some YouTube videos about how to re-install Windows:

For installing/reinstalling Windows XP:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P_932T4FAAY

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7usco-1nXGg

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XSJTgvet9QY

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n0cop_am1WM

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wf2Ffm33DhA

For installing/reinstalling Windows Vista:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VeBjxHm19pk

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=puY4vRhAKYo

If you have to re-install Windows, you may want to backup any critical data files on to CD/DVD discs or USB flash drives/portable hard drives, before starting the installation. Click here to search for prices on flash drives and here for portable (external) hard drives.

10. Add a separate sound card

If your motherboard’s built-in sound isn’t working, even after re-installing the sound driver, doing a System Restore and re-installing Windows, you need to add a separate sound card. The easy option for non-technical people is to get a USB sound card. Such a card is also helpful, if your motherboard has no free expansion slots for an add-on sound card.

What are USB Sound Cards? USB sound "cards" are actually external boxes that plug into the computer via USB. The sound is produced in the software which runs on the  computer. These boxes only provide for connectivity from the pc via the USB bus to an external device like a microphone or line in/out connector. It’s more appropriate to call them as audio interfaces.

USB_Sound_Card
USB Sound Card / Audio Interface

Click here to search for prices on Sound Cards.

11. Update the sound driver

Here’s an easy way to download and install/update your sound card driver.

12. Inspect the sound card

If updating the drivers didn’t help and if you have a separate sound card (not a built-in one on the motherboard), it’s possible that the drivers are correctly installed, but the sound card was displaced a little bit from its slot. This may be because there’s no screw holding it, or the card’s face plate misaligned with the computer case, which caused a loose contact between the card and the slot.

If you suspect this, you should power the computer off, unplug the power cord from the wall outlet, open up the computer and pull out the card. Then, re-insert it firmly into the slot or insert it into another slot, if you have another one free. Make sure to tighten the screw, which fixes the card to the case, and put one there, if it’s missing. Here’s a YouTube video about installing a sound card.

13. Test the sound card with a Linux Live CD distro

If none of the above methods worked, power off, unplug and open up the computer. Then, pull out your sound card and test it in another computer.

You can also download and boot from an Ubuntu Linux disc (about 700 MB), or the very light DamnSmallLinux (50 MB only), just to test the card, in case you can’t test your card in another computer.

You’d need to burn the ISO file with the “burn image to disc” option, in your CD writing software. To know more, how to burn ISO files, visit this post.

14. Downgrade to Vista or XP, if using Windows 7

If you tested your sound card and it worked with another system, and you have Windows 7 on your computer, it’s most likely that Windows 7 doesn’t support your sound card yet. Here, you have two options – downgrade to Windows Vista or XP, or get a sound card which is supported by Windows 7.

Here’s a list of Windows 7 supported sound cards from Microsoft.

This page lists Windows 7 compatible hardware and software.

Check the compatibility status of your software and devices, here.

If the card didn’t work even with another system, try

another sound card.

15. Test by using a different USB port

If the card is a USB sound card, try connecting it to a different USB port, especially the ones at the back of the computer, if you tried only the front USB ports. If you can’t get the card to work, try it on another computer. If it works on the other computer, the problem may be with the USB ports on your computer.

Test your USB ports by connecting other USB devices. You may also try removing the USB drivers from the Device manager and let Windows re-install them upon reboot. If  your computer doesn’t recognize any USB device, try the solutions in Troubleshooting USB connections”.

16. More information

For more information, visit the following links:

http://answers.microsoft.com/hi-in/default(en-us).aspx

http://social.answers.microsoft.com/Forums/en-US/xpmusic/threads?filter=answered

Here’s a video about troubleshooting sound issues. If you can’t hear any sound on your computer, you should watch it on some other computer where sound works, so you can hear the guy.

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.

CD drive or DVD drive is missing in Windows Vista

March 2nd, 2010 2 comments

Q. Help, my CD drive or DVD drive is missing?

A. I am taking this to mean your CD/DVD drive is not recognized, so you can’t play a CD or DVD.

You probably have either corrupted or deleted Windows registry entries. To solve this problem, you need to use the Registry Editor. ***Note: By using Registry Editor, you are modifying the registry. Serious problems might occur if you modify the registry incorrectly. Make sure that you follow these steps carefully. For added protection, back up the registry before you modify it. For more information about how to back up and restore the registry, click here to read the article in the Microsoft Knowledge Base.

Make sure you are logged into your computer as a administrator.

  1. Click Start
  2. Click Accessories, and then click Run.
  3. Type regedit, and then click OK. If you are prompted for an administrator password or for a confirmation, type the password, or click Allow.
  4. In the navigation pane, locate and then click the following registry subkey: HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\Class\{4D36E965-E325-11CE-BFC1-08002BE10318}
  5. In the right pane, click UpperFilters.
    *Note – You may also see an UpperFilters.bak registry entry. You do not have to remove that entry. Click UpperFilters only. If you do not see the UpperFilters registry entry, you still might have to remove the LowerFilters registry entry. To do this, go to step 8.
  6. On the Edit menu, click Delete.
  7. When you are prompted to confirm the deletion, click Yes.
  8. In the right pane, click LowerFilters.
    *Note – If you do not see the LowerFilters registry entry, unfortunately this you will need to contact Microsoft for additional support.
  9. On the Edit menu, click Delete.
  10. When you are prompted to confirm the deletion, click Yes.
  11. Exit Registry Editor.
  12. Restart the computer.
  13. Click Start button, click Computer, and then see whether the drive is listed.

If you can’t play or access a CD or DVD, you might have to reinstall some programs. Some programs might not be able to use your CD or DVD drive until you reinstall those programs. If the problem occurs again when you install or uninstall those programs, check to see if the manufacturer of the program has an update available. Some examples of programs that might be affected are:

  • iTunes software by Apple
  • Nero software by Nero Inc
  • Roxio Creator software by Sonic Solutions
  • Zune software by Microsoft

After reinstalling your programs, if you can play or access a CD or DVD, you are finished (yahoo!)  if the drive is not listed, remove and reinstall the existing drivers.

  1. Click Start button, and then click Control Panel.
  2. Click System and Maintenance, click System, and then click Device Manager.
    *Note If Control Panel is in Classic View, double-click System, and then click Device Manager. If you are prompted for an administrator password or for a confirmation, type the password, or click Allow.
  3. In Device Manager, expland DVD/CD-ROM drives, right-click the CD and DVD devices, and then click Uninstall.
  4. When you are prompted to confirm that you want to remove the device, click OK.
  5. Restart your computer.

After the computer restarts, the drivers should be automatically installed.

Troubleshooting USB connections

February 26th, 2010 2 comments

Having problems with your USB connections?

This can be a tricky problem to troubleshoot because of the fact that each USB device requires different hardware settings, which can conflict with other USB devices. Since multiple USB devices share a single path into your computer, it can be confusing (and time consuming) trying to isolate the problem.You might be dealing with driver issues on a single USB device, compatibility issues between the devices plugged into the same USB slot on your computer, or even a problem with your USB cord or slot in your computer.

Before you start troubleshooting a USB problem, double-check the fundamentals: Does your USB cable have a good connection? Confirm that any USB hubs are properly connected and plugged in to powered electrical outlets. Many failures can be traced to unplugged equipment or devices that are plugged into outlets that are not receiving power.

To isolate the problem, have a simple USB device that works properly on another computer, such as a USB mouse. You can test this device on the computer experientcing the problems to verify that the USB port, not a faulty device or cord, is causing the problem. Here are some other common issues with USB connections and how to fix them:

  • No USB device will work

Possible causes: Operating system compatibility, controller/hub compatibility, configurations for USB controllers, controller drivers

Make sure that your operating system supports USB, then check all of your devices to make sure they are supported by the controller. Next, check the controller’s settings and drivers. (Each of these things must be compatible with each other.)

  • All devices occasionally stop working at the same time

Possible causes: Controller drivers, Power management, USB controller configurations, bandwidth

Bandwidth can be an issue if several devices are transferring large amounts of data. Common devices that hog bandwidth include printers, scanners, hard drives, cameras, and DVD/CD drives. To solve this, you might try dividing the USB devices between different USB root hubs.

If your system experiences sporadic controller failure, you probably have a problem with power management. You might have bus-powered scanners or hard drives that are drawing more power than your computer can provide. If your computer requires more power, try replacing your computer’s power supply with one that provides more watts.

  • Several devices work fine, but others won’t work

Possible causes: Controller/hub compatibility, USB controller configurations, power management, controller drivers, device drivers, bandwidth

First move one of the working devices to another root hub to see if the problem is in a particular root hub or with the devices themselves. Next, remove external hubs from the equation to see if they are the problem. Try the problematic devices individually on the computer. If they work, it’s either a device driver or power issue. If they don’t work, it’s a controller compatibility issue, a device driver problem, or a lack of bandwidth. To solve compatibility issues and driver errors, try updating the drivers.

  • Several devices occasionally stop working at the same time, while others are fine

Possible causes: Power management, device drivers, bandwidth

First, try to isolate the particular event that’s common to all failures. Your system might be experiencing a sporadic controller failure if your devices are split across root hubs. Try moving the devices to another root hub to see if the problem is in a particular root hub or the devices themselves. Remove external hubs from the equation to see if they are the problem. Try the problematic devices individually on the computer. If they work, it’s a device driver, power issue, or bandwidth pinch.

  • One device never works

Possible causes: Device drivers, Controller/hub compatibility, Power management

If the device works on another computer, check to make sure it is compatible with your controller. If your device is bus powered and it never activates, lights up, or registers with your computer, then a power issue may be to blame. Next, check your drivers to see if they are compatible or need updated.

  • One device occasionally stops working

Possible causes: Device drivers, power management, bandwidth.

Again, isolate the particular event that’s common to all failures. Move the device to another root hub to see if the problem is in a particular root hub or the device itself. Remove external hubs from the equation to confirm they are not the problem. Also, try using the device when no other USB peripherals are connected. You probably have a driver problem, but it could also be a problem with the power or bandwidth.


Solving USB Issues:

Operating system compatibility
Several operating systems don’t support USB:

  • Some Windows 95 releases
  • Windows NT
  • Mac OS prior to 9
  • Linux kernels prior to 2.2.7

If you’re using Windows 95, go to USB.org, check the FAQ, and download the USBReady.exe program, which will tell you if your Windows 95 computer is USB compatible. The new USB 2.0 standard may require additional drivers or patches that aren’t included with the OS. Check the device’s documentation for more information.

Controller/hub compatibility
USB computers manufactured more than a year ago are limited to USB 1.1 devices. USB 2.0 is much faster and is usually backward compatible with the older 1.1, but it’s possible that a USB 2.0 device could refuse to work on a USB 1.1 controller or external hub, so check to see if there’s a compatibility issue.

Assuming a firmware update is available, you may need access to a USB 2.0-equipped computer to apply it. Check the manufacturer’s Web site for information on using your USB 2.0 device in a USB 1.1 system.

Configurations for add-on USB controllers
Check the Windows Device Manager to see if the USB controller is recognized or is experiencing a conflict.

  • For Windows 2000:
    Click Start, Programs, Control Panel, System. Then choose the Hardware tab, and then click the Device Manager button.
  • ForWindows XP:
    Click Start, Control Panel, select the Systems applet, click the Hardware tab, and then click the Device Manager button.

The Device Manager will likely refer to the USB controller as a USB Root Hub, USB Controller, or USB Bridge. The usual suspects of IRQ addresses and memory address conflicts are the first things to check. PCI devices shouldn’t have many problems, being Plug and Play, but EISA cards may require more adjustment.

If the hardware appears to work, reinstall the drivers. If that fails to resolve the problem, relocate the card to another slot in case a master/slave configuration error is occurring.

Integrated USB controller settings
If you suspect the trouble is with your USB controller settings, check the Device Manager for a conflict. Depending upon how well integrated the controller is with Windows, you may be able to adjust the IRQ or memory address settings from the Device Manager.

Next, try rebooting your computer and entering the BIOS configuration. USB settings are usually listed in the “peripherals” section. You’ll need to check for an entry marked “USB Controller” that is off or inactive. If this entry is already active, check the IRQ and memory addresses. Use the Device Manager to ensure that no other device is using those settings. You may need to reboot a few times to find a valid IRQ/memory address combination that won’t conflict with other devices.

If the hardware settings are fine, reinstall the drivers.

  • USB keyboards
    When editing the BIOS, enable “DOS USB Keyboard Support.” Enabling this option will allow you to use a USB keyboard when booting a system with a boot disk.
  • Controller drivers
    Check the motherboard manufacturer’s web site for driver updates. Many motherboard suppliers release driver combinations that include a number of hardware drivers. Confirm that you have the latest driver installed. Some operating systems also provide drivers, so make sure you have the latest available software patch as well.

Power management
Most computers have some form of sleep mode connected with the screensaver. A controller is not harmed when an energy setting kicks and eliminates its power. However, the OS may fail to power up the controller again. You can eliminate this error by opening Power Options and disabling System Standby.

In Windows 2000, access the Power Options applet by clicking Start, Settings, Control Panel, Power Options.

In Windows XP, go to Start, Control Panel, Power Options. You’ll find the System Standby option on the Power Schemes tab, which opens by default.

For laptop computers, you shouldn’t disable the power management permanently. If the manufacturer doesn’t have a patch for the laptop, consider switching to non-USB devices when possible. You could also create two profiles for users: a portable profile with power management enabled and a desktop profile with power management disabled.

Excessive loads on the bus can also cause power problems. The USB controller can power USB devices. Small devices like your mouse and keyboard aren’t a significant drain, but larger devices, such as scanners, hard drives, web cams, and speakers can draw considerable power. You might be able to eliminate the problem by spreading the power-hungry devices across multiple root hubs. Otherwise, acquire a good self-powered external USB hub.

Inexpensive external hubs sometimes fail to meet the USB power specifications and subsequently cause all devices on the hub to fail. Upgrading to a USB hub that supplies more power solves this kind of problem.

USB device drivers
The ability to hot-swap USB devices is a great feature, but it relies on a somewhat oversimplified set of all-purpose drivers. Some devices may appear to be general-purpose devices when in fact they are not. You need to install the drivers before you connect the device to the PC. Sometimes you need to reboot to give the new drivers priority over the all-purpose drivers. Skipping the reboot will break the whole process.

If you think the new drivers aren’t receiving priority, completely uninstall the device in question. You may have to leave the device connected to uninstall it properly. At other times you may be able to remove a device’s drivers using Control Panel’s Add/Remove Programs applet, just as you would with other software.

Sometimes it’s necessary to upgrade a device’s firmware, which is basically a driver that runs on the peripheral. The more advanced the device, the more likely it is that the firmware can be upgraded. Your mouse probably doesn’t have any firmware upgrades. Scanners, hard disks, printers, optical disks, and other sophisticated peripherals likely have upgradeable firmware. Check the manufacturer’s site to make sure that you have the most recent update.

Bandwidth
USB root hubs can each support up to 128 devices, but they can run out of bandwidth, depending on consumption rates. USB 1.1 is limited to 12 Mbps, not counting the bus management overhead. USB 2.0 has 480 Mbps with about 420 Mbpsavailable, so it can support more devices. Combine an Ethernet adapter, a printer, and an external CD-ROM or hard drive on a single USB controller, though, and the PC can quickly exhaust its capacity.

The only solution for bandwidth problems is to either stop using all the devices simultaneously or distribute the load. Make sure you put devices that will always see use, like Ethernet adapters and USB speakers, on different root hubs. You may need to get additional USB controllers, which are inexpensive, typically costing less than $40.

CD drive or DVD drive is missing in Windows XP

February 23rd, 2010 2 comments

Q. Help, my CD drive or DVD drive is missing?

A. I am taking this to mean your CD/DVD drive is not recognized, so you can’t play a CD or DVD.

You probably have either corrupted or deleted Windows registry entries. To solve this problem, you need to use the Registry Editor. ***Note: By using Registry Editor, you are modifying the registry. Serious problems might occur if you modify the registry incorrectly. Make sure that you follow these steps carefully. For added protection, back up the registry before you modify it. For more information about how to back up and restore the registry, click here to read the article in the Microsoft Knowledge Base.

  1. Click Start, and then click Run.
  2. In the Open box, type regedit, and then click OK.
  3. In the navigation pane, locate and then click the following registry subkey:
    HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\Class\{4D36E965-E325-11CE-BFC1-08002BE10318}
  4. In the right pane, click UpperFilters.
    *** Note – You may also see an UpperFilters.bak registry entry. You do not have to remove that entry. Click UpperFilters only. If you do not see the UpperFilters registry entry, you still might have to remove the LowerFilters registry entry. To do this, go to step 7.
  5. On the Edit menu, click Delete.
  6. When you are prompted to confirm the deletion, click Yes.
  7. In the right pane, click LowerFilters.
    *** Note – If you do not see the LowerFilters registry entry, unfortunately this content cannot help you any further. Try contacting Microsoft for additional support.
  8. On the Edit menu, click Delete.
  9. When you are prompted to confirm the deletion, click Yes.
  10. Exit Registry Editor.
  11. Restart the computer.
  12. Click Start, click My Computer, and then see whether the drive is listed.

If you still can’t play or access a CD or DVD at this point, next try to reinstall the programs. If that doesn’t work, check to see if there are updates available at the manufacturer’s website. Some examples of programs that might be affected are:

  • iTunes software by Apple
  • Nero software by Nero Inc
  • Roxio Creator software by Sonic Solutions
  • Zune software by Microsoft

Additionally, you  can try to remove and reinstall the device drivers.

Do the following to remove and reinstall the device drivers:

  1. Click Start, and then click Control Panel.
  2. Click System and Maintenance, and then click System,
  3. On the Hardware tab, click Device Manager. If you are prompted for an administrator password or for a confirmation, type the password, or click Allow.
  4. In Device Manager, expand DVD/CD-ROM drives, right-click the CD and DVD devices, and then click Uninstall.
  5. When you are prompted to confirm that you want to remove the device, click OK.
  6. Restart the computer.

After the computer restarts, the drivers should be automatically installed.

Repairing Common Printer Problems

February 8th, 2010 No comments

Printer Cable:

One of the most common sources of printing problems is the printer cable. Normal wear and tear can damage one or more of the wires or pins in the connectors of your cable.

Cable problems simple to diagnose and correct. The fastest way to troubleshoot a cable with no obvious defects is to substitute a known good cable and see if the problem goes away. Or, you can place your questionable cable on a system that is having no problems, to see if your problems follow the cable.

Printer driver problems:

Another common printer problem is that your drivers are defective or out of date. You might even have the wrong one. This can result in all sorts of strange gibberish on the printed page. If you selected the wrong printer driver for the printer you are trying to use, you may need to purge the print jobs that are hung up in the spooler as well as reset the printer to remove any bad data that remains in its buffer.

It’s also possible that you have the correct printer driver but that it isn’t configured properly for the amount of RAM installed in your printer. If the driver is set for more RAM than the printer actually has, an overflow can occur. This might go unnoticed for a long time. It may appear only when you have a large print job or pages with lots of graphics.

Sometimes there are known issues with a printer driver that crop up only under certain circumstances. Make sure that you have the latest printer drivers for your operating system and printer installed. (To do this, check the manufacturer’s web site.)

Whenever you install a printer driver, make sure that all of the setting options are correct for your individual printer. This not only includes the RAM settings, but also settings like the source tray for the paper, the paper size and orientation, the timeout settings, and the print resolution.

Port Type
Another problem might be that your parallel port settings are incorrect in your CMOS setup. (Assuming that the parallel port is integrated on the motherboard.) First, see if Windows is giving any indication of a problem in Device Manager. To do this, click Start, Settings, Control Panel, and then double-click on the System icon. Now select the Device Manager tab. If there is a problem with the on-board parallel port settings, you will see a flag on the device, indicating a discrepancy. Highlight the parallel port and click Properties to view the device status. Next, click Resources to check out any resource conflicts.

It’s possible that when you last installed a component, you created a resource conflict that didn’t appear until later when you tried to print. If a conflict is indicated, try changing the resources that the offending device is using.

Testing the parallel port
Diagnostic software such as CheckIt or Norton Utilities can test the integrity of your port by using a loop-back plug attached to your parallel port. This type of test can also be performed on your serial ports. Make sure that you use a loop-back plug compatible with the testing software.

The loop-back plug test may not find every parallel port problem, but if it does indicate a problem, it’s probably accurate.

If you find a bad parallel port on a motherboard with integrated peripherals, you can disable the port in the CMOS Setup and install an add-on parallel port if you have an unused ISA slot. But check prices before you do this. You may be able to replace your motherboard with a new one for very little more than the cost of a new parallel port card.

Check the CMOS
If you find no resource conflicts, try changing the port type in the CMOS. Run the CMOS Setup program, open the Integrated Peripherals menu, and select the parallel port type settings. Press [F1] to view the default setting. If the default setting isn’t specified, try changing the mode to the default. You can also try setting to another value the memory address that the port is using. Start with the default setting and then restart the computer and try printing again. Windows will probably find what it considers new hardware and install the proper software during the start up process. Note: This is the process I followed on my computer. However, since every CMOS is different, your system may require you to change the port type in a different manner. Documentation may accompany your computer or motherboard (if it was custom built).

There are a lot of things that can go wrong with a printer. If you’ve eliminated all other possibilities and have decided that the printer is the culprit, consult the manual that came with your printer for user-serviceable items.

The new generation of inkjet printers has the capability of printing at a very high resolution. To achieve this resolution, you must choose from a variety of high-quality papers available. If you’re using standard quality inkjet paper, there is no benefit from choosing a very high resolution. The print speed will be greatly influenced by the resolution you select.

Don’t try to use the paper designed for an ink jet printer in your laser printer. This paper is not compatible with the high temperatures present in a laser printer.

If your laser printer has begun to print pages with some of the areas of the page appearing lighter than the rest, your toner cartridge may be a little low on toner. To get the maximum life from a toner cartridge, make sure that the remaining toner is evenly distributed in the cartridge. Do this by removing the cartridge from the printer and, while holding it in the same orientation that it rests in when installed, gently rock it back and forth, tilting it about 45 degrees in each direction. The object is to make toner available over the whole width of the drum. Be careful not to shake the cartridge too vigorously.

While you have the printer open and the cartridge removed, take the time to clean it out. Follow the directions in the owner’s manual carefully so as to not damage anything.

How To Access Device Manager in Windows Vista

January 11th, 2010 No comments

The Device Manager is a part of Microsoft Windows Vista. It gives you an organized view of all recognized devices installed on your computer. The Device Manager is used to change options, manage your drivers, enabling and disabling your devices, such as your hard disk drives, USB devices, keyboards, sound cards and more.

To access the Device Manager in Windows Vista:

  1. Click the Start Menu
  2. Type “Device Manager” and hit return
    screen_start_type_device_manager

OR

  1. Click the Start Menu,
  2. Click the Control Panel,
    btn_control_panel
  3. Click the Device Manager Icon
    icon_device_manager

Problems with a specific USB device in Windows XP

October 12th, 2009 No comments

USB problems are usually an easy problem to solve. First, isolate the problem. Unplug all USB devices from the system, including USB hubs. Next, take a known good USB device and attach it to the system. If the known good device works, then you can be sure that there is nothing wrong with the port itself.

Now take the device that was malfunctioning and plug it directly into one of the computer’s USB ports while no other USB devices are connected to the system. If the device starts working, the problem most likely was that device was conflicting with another USB device. One way that USB devices can conflict with each other is if they share a common serial number. Each USB device in a system must have a unique serial number. Having two devices with a common serial number is very rare, but there are documented cases of it happening.

If the device now works and it isn’t sharing a serial number with another device, it was probably malfunctioning because of an overloaded USB hub or a conflicting device driver (Click here to run a scan for updated drivers). The only real way to sort out the problem is to use trial-and-error by plugging in various combinations of USB devices until you find the device or devices that the malfunctioning device is conflicting with. Once you track this down, you can usually solve the problem by moving the devices to different physical USB ports or by updating the drivers for both devices.

What if plugging in the malfunctioning device without any other USB devices being plugged in doesn’t cure the problem?

Try checking the computer’s Event Logs for clues to the malfunction. If the event log doesn’t give any clues, try plugging the malfunctioning device into another computer. If the device works on the other computer, then you can be sure that the device is good.

If the alternate computer is using an operating system other than Windows XP, the problem could be that the device or its driver isn’t Windows XP-compatible. Check to see if there are updates for your device for XP, if not, contact the device’s manufacturer to see if there are any known issues with using the device with Windows XP.

If the alternate computer is running Windows XP and the device is working, then I recommend checking out what version of the device driver is being used on each machine and using the one that works, even if it isn’t the most recent.