How To Choose Between Multiple Versions Of A Driver
Microsoft designed the Windows XP system to streamline system file updates through the Windows Update program. However, the application may not support all third party devices and peripherals that you add. Going on the hunt to find the right files for your favorite digital camera or printer can lead you into a long maze of conflicting recommendations. One popular model could have over a dozen versions of its drivers available. Learning to differentiate between the various installers available from the manufacturers will help you avoid wasting time with incompatible drivers.
The Automated Options
Many major device manufacturers provide simple programs that can scan your system and identify components. Once the application tells you exactly which video card or scanner you have attached to the computer, you can pinpoint just the right driver. If you can’t find a scan program from a manufacturer, try a Windows XP driver scanner to determine device errors with one click. You can also check out the website for information on how to identify your product by looking for model numbers and service tags. You may have to turn the printer over or open part of the unit to find the information you need.
Some of the newest computer accessories simply aren’t designed to work with older operating systems. Before purchasing a device, verify that Windows XP drivers are available first. Trying to load driver files designed for Windows 7 or Windows 8 instead will only damage your system or fail completely. If the manufacturer no longer lists XP files on their support pages, try:
- Using a program designed to scan and automatically download the drivers you need. These often link to collections of relevant system files, making it easier to find rare or discontinued files.
- Contacting the manufacturer and asking for a manual download. They may even be able to forward an original copy of the relevant installation disc for a small shipping fee.
- Finding archives of Windows XP drivers that are no long listed. This is often a long shot, and better collections are usually found through automated driver fixing software.
You must also match your driver files to your system. If you have a 32-bit computer, you can’t expect 64-bit files to function just the same. Determining which type of system you have only takes a few steps.
- Click the Start button to open the menu. Find the Control Panel icon on the right hand side of the menu and click on it.
- Double click on the System icon.
- Look to the right side of the window and locate the System heading. Below that text, you should find information on the operating system installed on your computer. If you have a Home or Media Center Edition of XP, you have a 32-bit system. Professional versions that are not designated as 64-bit as also simply 32-bit. The only XP systems that require 64-bit drivers will be labeled Microsoft Windows XP Professional x64 Edition Version in this part of the System screen.
Once you know for sure which type of system you have, look for matching drivers on the support websites. If there are no 64-bit drivers available, you can always try the 32-bit versions. Some will work fine. The manufacturer may have a lead on the files you need as well if you can’t find them at first.
Go For The Newest
In most cases, you will need the latest update or release for your relevant drivers that still supports your operating system. AMD or Dell may not have brand new XP drivers for every device, but you should still determine which release was last compatible. Nearly all driver lists are organized chronologically so that you can identify their ages. If you find that there are issues with the latest version, you can always work your way backwards until you locate just the right match.
How To Check The Current Driver Version
Just because you’ve received an email from the manufacturer about a driver update doesn’t mean you necessarily need one. You may already have the latest file installed and not even know it. Finding your driver’s version number is a simple task.
- Open the Start Menu with a click of its colorful button. Open the Control Panel with the relevant listing to the right of the menu.
- Double click on the System icon. Look for the Hardware tab near the top right hand corner, and give it a click.
- Click the button near the bottom labeled Device Manager. Once the Manager is open, locate the device that you need to check. Right click on its name and select Properties at the bottom of the menu.
- When that Properties window appears, choose the Driver tab at the top. You’ll see the exact Driver Version number listed in the box, along with the date of the latest installation. Compare the version number to the download offered by the manufacturer to determine if it would be a worthwhile installation.
You will also find out who supplied the driver version you currently have. If you have just added a new device, you may only see a default driver provided by Microsoft. This won’t necessarily help your device function properly when you need the correct driver instead. Checking the Device Manager can reveal when an inappropriate version was accidentally installed or an update was rolled back.
No matter what methods you use for managing your drivers and keeping them updated, it is recommended that you occasionally check your driver versions through the Device Manager. A little extra checking could reveal issues before they get a chance to interfere with the operation of your favorite game or scanner. Set reminders on a calendar or to-do list so your driver maintenance becomes a regular part of your computer use. You will be rewarded with a system that performs as it should for as long as possible.