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How to Troubleshoot Driver Problems (part 1) - How to Find Updated Drivers, How to Roll Back Drivers

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1/16/2014 3:24:40 AM
Drivers are software components that Windows Vista uses to communicate with hardware accessories. Windows Vista typically has dozens of drivers active at any given point, allowing it to communicate with your graphics card, hard disks, sound card, USB devices, and other accessories. Without a driver, hardware cannot function properly. Additionally, you might have problems with hardware if a driver is outdated or unreliable.

The following sections describe how to work with drivers to solve hardware problems.

How to Find Updated Drivers

Microsoft or hardware vendors occasionally release updated drivers to improve hardware performance and reliability. Many updates are available directly from Windows Update. To find and download any updates available for a computer, follow these steps:

1.
Click Start, click All Programs, and then click Windows Update.

2.
If available, click Check For Updates.

3.
If Windows Update displays any optional updates, click View Available Updates.

4.
Windows Vista displays any driver updates if available, as shown in Figure 1. Select the update, and then click Install.

Figure 1. You can use Windows Update to install updated drivers.

5.
Windows Update downloads any selected updates, creates a system restore point, and then installs the updates.

Additionally, hardware manufacturers might release updated drivers directly to users before they are available on Windows Update. Check manufacturer websites for updated drivers.

How to Roll Back Drivers

When you update a device driver, your computer might have problems that it did not have with the previous version. For example, installing an unsigned device driver might cause the device to malfunction or cause resource conflicts with other installed hardware. Installing faulty drivers might cause Stop errors that prevent the operating system from starting in normal mode. Typically, Stop message text displays the file name of the driver that causes the error.

Windows Vista provides a feature called Device Driver Roll Back that might help you restore system stability by rolling back a driver update.

Note

You can use System Information or the Sigverif tool to determine whether a driver on your computer is signed and to obtain other information about the driver, such as version, date, time, and manufacturer. This data, combined with information from the manufacturer’s website, can help you decide whether to roll back or update a device driver.


To roll back a driver, follow these steps:

1.
Click Start, right-click Computer, and then click Manage.

2.
Under System Tools, click Device Manager.

3.
Expand a category (Network Adapters, for example), and then double-click a device.

4.
Click the Driver tab, and then click Roll Back Driver.

You are prompted to confirm that you want to overwrite the current driver. Click Yes to roll back the driver. The rollback process proceeds, or you are notified that an older driver is not available.
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