Tech Lolz: Drivers - the cause & the solution to all computer problems

Well, it's pretty obvious from the title what I would like to address for this week's episode. Drivers! And not the kind behind a steering wheel, but computer drivers. Sometimes they are just as nasty. :) With drivers things are generally simple - installing a driver can only go in 2 simple directions: right or very wrong. In this episode of Tech Lolz we have discovered a user who has done everything wrong when it comes to drivers. So let's take a look at what he did, have a laugh and learn from his mistakes.

Next, next, next, install, bsod

One of the most common issues when working with drivers, especially if you have no idea what you are doing, would be the inevitable BSOD (Blue Screen of Death).

BSOD

It's Windows' way to cope with your inability to match A and B in order to have them working together. And by A I mean hardware components and by B I mean software programs.
So mainly what drivers do is ensure that each piece of hardware attached to your computer is visible for you to use in Windows and that programs can communicate well with your computer's hardware. Sounds important? That's because it is.

Let's take a look at this discussion: I just wiped my computer and realized I don't have any of my drivers? - started by Robert:

"Hi, I just recently completely wiped my desktop and reinstalled Windows 7, but I don't have any of my drivers and I was wondering if I could get them online? Also I connect to the Internet with a cisco ae2500 wireless adaptor and I don't have the drivers for that either, I have a laptops and a flash drive, could I use those to download the driver? I'm not good with pcs (as you can see) so if anyone can go through the steps I should take that'd be great, thanks in advance"

This sounds just like the following: "So I had intercourse but I didn't use protection, so I got pregnant but I cannot afford having a child. Can I use my other child for labor and get the money to raise this one?"

Having worked in tech support, I know the hassle that drivers can bring to people who don't know their purpose or how to handle them.

However, it's so simple and I'm gonna explain it to you but not before we go through some replies from the tech-savvies on the forum. No sarcasm intended.

The technically correct answer would be the following from BigE:

"You will need to know the exact make and model of all your cards (from device manager) and downloads them from the support site of your PC. Make a folder called "drivers" and copy them ALL there on your flash drive and old PC. Then you can right click, install them.
If you get a few extra usually doesn't hurt because they won't detect the card for that driver.
Dell is a bit better at this (you can look up your service tag and it will give you both the build and drivers.
Other companies will build pcs kind of willy nilly; the same model will have different boards for the same function. That is why you need to go through device manager and ID each card."

So mainly these are the main steps to follow. But it never goes as planned and you'll always find some kind of unknown driver in there for which you won't know what to get.

For this reason, I am going to teach you a neat little trick. Let's say that you are in Device Manager and you have an Unknown Device highlighted in the list. Right click on it and choose Properties. Go to the Details tab and choose from the drop-down list Hardware IDs. Just search the string on the Internet from there and you'll be able to find to what hardware part it refers to. Just make sure that you do not use any of the Google results to download the driver since most of them are simply rubbish. Use the manufacturer's website.

Returning back to our sheep, of course, there's also that funny comment that makes this forum thread a Tech Lolz article.

V. Perkins gave the following answer and I for one would give it best answer:

"No, no -- you're doing it backwards. You ask for help *before* taking on the task you've never done before. (Had to get that off of my chest...)
But seriously, what did you use to 're-install' Windows 7? The built-in recovery partition on your hard disk? A CD/DVD? Are you sure your PC's vendor didn't give you some CDs with your machine?
And be sure to run Windows Update lots and lots of times in order to 'catch-up' on the maintenance that your system needs. Depending on when your Windows 7 source was created you could be several years behind in maintenance.
Good luck!"

And he's so right!!!

Why would you start a job for which you will need Internet's help to finish? That's always a big NO-NO. Don't overestimate your powers, you're still human Spiderman.

Fat Spiderman, Madrid, Spain

The Real Deal When Managing Drivers

OK, so you formatted your computer and now you need the drivers. Don't despair, it's easy breezy.

You have to do one of the following two actions according to your situation:

  1. If your formatted your computer and installed the same operating system you had before, use the CD that came with the computer which contains the drivers. Uh-oh. No CD? No worries, let's pass on to number 2.
  2. If you changed your computer or you need the latest drivers, go the the manufacturer's website. They always have a section reserved to driver downloads and find in there what you need. You can search using the name of your computer, the name of your component for which you require a driver, the Operating System for which you need the drivers or a unique identifier for your computer which will pull up what you need.

Too many options to search by? If you are lucky by birth, the manufacturer's website will also have an automatic identifier of your computer built in which you can simply run and it will show you exactly what you need.

In some cases, the manufacturer also provides a software which you can install on your computer and it will download the drivers for you. And it's not something like DriverGenious or DriverGuru or DriverIAmWhatYouNeedToGetYouOutOfYourMisery things. It is something legit. For example, HP offers HP Support Assistant. A pretty decent tool.

Or to avoid any such hassle, just set up your system the right way with our help. How's that saying? A A friend in need is a friend indeed? Check this out: How to Setup a System from Scratch? The Best Installation Order.

If by chance you encounter a Blue Screen, start over. You definitely did something wrong. Uninstall the problematic driver in Safe Mode and try again. Once the hardware component is working as it should, EUREKA or BINGO or whatever you enjoy screaming out loud. Remember not to take the Lord's name in vain otherwise I will have to deal with all kind of special people and I am socially awkward. Please don't put me in that situation.

If you are still trying to compute what Safe Mode is, give this a read: What is Safe Mode and How Do you Boot in it?.

Conclusion

So what have we learned? That drivers are God's children sent to Hell? Oh no, they are just small, misunderstood pieces of software. What's your opinion on the subject? Ever had any major troubles with drivers? Let's say for your… printer? I know you did!!! Share with us in the comment section below.

Take care!