Six Tricks For Finding The Right Drivers The First Time
Whether it is overzealous deleting or viruses that wipe out your driver files, the search for new ones is rarely a fun occasion. These types of issues always seem to pop up right in the middle of work that is already past the deadline. If you need to get your computer working again fast to get back to your school paper or end of the year sales report, try at least one of these six tricks to find genuine drivers as quickly as possible.
For fast discovery of specific issues, nothing works faster than an automatic driver scanner program. Some manufacturers of video cards and sound devices offer them to help you discover which model you have from their line up. Others scan your drivers against long lists of identification checks, such as the program offered by us here at XPDrivers. Computer users that are uncomfortable with the idea of hunting down driver files on their own should turn to a trusted source for scanning and automatic driver help.
Use Windows Update
In many cases, there is no need to download any extra software at all to solve your driver issues. Windows XP includes a program known as Windows Update that connects to the Internet to solve numerous problems with the operation system or drivers. If the device is supported by Microsoft, you may find an automatic download and installation completing that fixes your problem in just a few minutes. It is well worth a try, especially when the problem involves a system file like the hard drive driver or motherboard files.
ID Numbers For Manual Identification
Sometimes Windows Update and automatic driver scanners just don’t seem to work. Running them turns up nothing, while your device continues to malfunction and cause serious issues with the computer. Many systems spiral into an endless loop of restarts and crashes when driver files become corrupted or go missing. Opening the Device Manager and writing down two numbers from the malfunctioning device can aid you in your search when you can’t identify the manufacturer or model number on your own.
- Start the Device Manager by clicking on the Start Menu. Click on the Run listing to the right of the menu.
- In the text box, enter “mmc devmgmt.msc” without quotes. Click on the Run button.
- Look for the device that is listed as unknown or generic. This device may be listed as reporting errors or properly installed.
- Right click on the listing and select Properties. Look for two pieces of information on the window that pops up. Record the four characters after the headings VEN_XXXX and DEV_XXXX. Go to Google and find a hardware ID database, then enter these two values into the search engine to discover the details of your mystery device.
- Head to the manufacturer listed on the database. They should provide drivers for your device through their Support or Downloads pages.
- Consider searching Google for the details of the driver if you can’t find a current website for the manufacturer.
Try A Collection
Sometimes you just need to overwhelm the problem with plenty of options. Loading a collection of the most common device drivers onto a flash drive or CD will give you a good chance at solving your dilemma. Pick a set based on the type of hardware you are having trouble with. You need to get lucky and match your device to one or more of the driver files included in the collection. If the right ones aren’t available, the software may attempt to connect to the Internet to access a larger database and give you a shot at finding rarer files.
Serious driver problems leave your computer stuck restarting itself over and over again. This hijacks your system and makes it impossible to access your files or complete important tasks. You can’t even work on replacing the offending drivers until you can break the loop. Try starting in Safe Mode to restore control over the system until the new files can be loaded.
- Restart your computer through the Power options in the Start Menu. Press the F8 button on your computer as the system boots up to bring up the boot menu. Use your keyboard arrows to choose “Safe Mode with Networking”, unless your problem is related to a network device.
- Let the system boot up in Safe Mode. Access your Device Manager and attempt to install new drivers if the computer manages to stay on without restarting once again.
It is crucial to verify you are downloading or installing the right version of driver files before proceeding with the process. Using releases designed for another Windows OS or a completely different system altogether could further lock up the system. The file name will often contain a clue to the release version or intended platform. You may also have access to a wide variety of driver files due to using a collection or an executable for all systems. When in doubt, get a new version from the most trustworthy source you can find rather than install a model that might be incorrect.
Bonus Tip: Don’t Forget To Restart
Many driver issues seem impossible to solve because the computer user working on it simply forgets to restart the system after each attempt to resolve hardware errors. When you install a new driver or roll back to a previous version, restart the computer to let the registry update. Wait to check the Device Manager for further signs of trouble until the system boots up again. This also gives you a quick chance at accessing Safe Mode if your attempts to fix the problem lead to crashes or hang ups. Most scanners and installers also recommend restarting after the services run.