Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Hardware blues? Check your drivers!

Got a hardware issue of some type? Don't play "Operation" and dissect your device right away to install a replacement. Consider checking your drivers first! Windows Update is a great source to get driver updates for anything and everything your computer contains; from network cards to video adapters. What if Windows Update doesn't show any updated drivers? What's next?

The next best step is to check with the device manufacturer. In some cases, this could be the OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) of the computer or it could be the manufacturer of the hardware component itself. Check the Technical Support sites of both OEM and component maker. A quick search of an on-line knowledge base can yield relevant results and downloads.

For example, I just purchased a brand new Tablet PC from Toshiba. The Tab has a built in Secure Digital slot, which is a great feature that lets me leverage my digital camera data as well as my Windows Mobile information. Only one problem: right out of the box, the slot didn't work! Regardless of which SD card I attempted to read, I kept getting I/O errors. A quick look at the device properties via the Windows XP Device Manager indicated that the SD driver was from 2002! Five minutes of searching on Toshiba's support site provided me an updated driver, which was a quick download and install. I had no fear to update the driver because Windows XP does have a "driver rollback" feature, and besides, I would be no worse off! The new driver works perfectly fine and I now have use of a key feature. Moral of the story: don't rely solely on Windows Update. While it's a fantastic concept, you have to help manage your hardware along with it!

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