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What Happens If I Install The Wrong Driver?

Driver mismatches can arise from sheer frustration or simple mistakes. If you click on the wrong link when searching the support pages of a computer manufacturer, you can end up with a driver or installation file that is definitely not designed to work with your system. Many users often do this on purpose when they can’t locate a driver that is perfectly compatible with their operating system or exact device model. The search for a rare or out of date file often seems nearly impossible. However, installing the wrong driver can have quite a few consequences.

 

Problems Ranging From Small To Large

 

Driver files are utilized by the operating system to communicate with devices connected to the computer. Each file is written to work with a specific piece of hardware, so all sorts of errors pop up when the wrong code is executed in the attempt to do something with a printer or camera. You may not even notice that you have chosen the wrong files for weeks or even months until issues start occurring. Some of the most common issues caused by incorrect drivers include:

  • Error windows that appear every time you start the computer or when you attempt to use the device. These windows may list the incorrect or missing driver file, or they may not hint at the actual cause at all and report a completely different problem.
  • Constant restarting. If the driver for a major component involved in start up can’t be loaded properly, the system may just keep restarting endlessly to try and resolve the problem.
  • Replacement of the old driver files even after the new, correct versions are added. Windows can become convinced that the wrong files are the right ones and undo your work if you don’t install the correct drivers in the first place.
  • Failure to start up at all. Getting stuck at the boot screen is often linked to just one tiny file in the System folder.
  • Programs stop working. When your video driver or your USB controller file is corrupted, the programs that rely on these components won’t work either.
  • Issues installing the right files. Windows XP often reinstalls the older version as part of the errors caused by incompatibility, which is endlessly frustrating when you have the right file and it keeps getting overwritten by the wrong one.
  • Difficulties uninstalling the component or getting your computer to realize it is no longer connected. Even if you remove the driver, the system may have a phantom loop left behind that leads to the hardware detection wizard after a CD drive or printer is long gone.

 

Handling Your Mistake

 

When you realized that you may not have the right driver for your hardware, your first step should be research. Finding the right Windows XP driver is always recommended before you try uninstalling the old file, but that should take priority if the file is causing a restarting loop or random shutdown problems. You may need to remove the component, even if it is a video card or other internal device, to accomplish this.

 

Starting In Safe Mode

 

Starting your computer in Safe Mode will help you stop the endless cycle of driver errors and get a handle on your system again. Print these instructions so you can restart in the right mode without having to access the Internet in the middle of the process.

 

  1. Shut down the computer normally through the Start Menu. Find the F8 key on your keyboard, then start the system back up again.
  2. Press the F8 key as the computer starts up and works through the various boot screens. If the Windows XP logo pops up rather than a boot options screen, allow the system to start up fully and try again. The key is to have F8 pressed in the two to three seconds after the system starts, but before Windows XP itself is loaded. It may take a few tries to access the boot menu.
  3. Select the Safe Mode with Command Prompt option. Avoid the networking option unless you know you aren’t having problems with drivers related to your modem or ports.

 

The computer should boot with only the minimal system drivers loaded. If the issue lies within one of these files, you may experience the same errors, but it is likely that Safe Mode will work well enough for you to remove the incorrect drivers and replace them with new ones.

 

Try A Restore Point

 

If Safe Mode triggers the same errors or you can’t seem to get the wrong driver uninstalled, you may need to let the operating system have a try at the problem. The easiest way to do this is to reset to a previous restore point made before you installed the offending file. If you have System Restore turned on as a feature, try:

  1. Logging into an Administrator account or an account with Administrator privileges.
  2. Open the Start Menu in the left corner of the screen and navigate to the All Programs tab at the bottom. Select the Accessories folder, then System Tools, and click on the System Restore listing.
  3. Select the restoration option on the window that opens and press Next. Pick a restore point from the list that you are sure was made before the driver was installed. If you aren’t sure when the wrong files were added, try checking the Device Manager and looking for the date of the latest driver update.
  4. Follow the rest of the instructions in the System Restore window and allow the computer to restart itself.

 

Uninstalling Manually

 

When a driver file is wreaking havoc with your system, it is best to uninstall it. You can do this quite simply with the device manager:

  1. Open the Start Menu and click on the Control Panel listing.
  2. Double click on the System icon, click on the Hardware tab, then press the Device Manager button.
  3. Find the affected device and double click on its listing. Selecting the Driver tab, then click on the uninstall button near the bottom.
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