As a tech, Microsoft XP repair issues are some of the easiest I’ve come across. While it’s true that there are some issues that most consumers won’t be able to handle on their own, it’s not true that they can’t handle all of them.
I’ve pointed out how the average consumer can perform their own hardware upgrade and keep their computer running at an acceptable level of speed for a while longer before requiring an upgrade. So, what happens when you run into an issue that isn’t an upgrade issue, like no longer hearing any sound output from your speakers?
Fix That Nonperforming Piece of Hardware
You turn on your computer, queue up your favorite pieces of music or a movie to watch, it begins to play — but wait! There’s no sound emanating from your speakers. Normally, this is a quick and easy fix because you’ve accidentally muted the speakers. Roll your mouse to the lower right of your screen and take a look at the speaker icon in the system tray (if there is one). If it has a red stripe and circle, then click it, and click the radiating speaker icon under the volume slider.
When this doesn’t work, we have to go a little further and dig a little deeper. Sometimes when we install a new piece of software, or a new device, it causes conflicts with devices we already had installed and working and causes them to stop working. We need to see if the system reports the device as functioning properly, or if there are any conflicts. Here’s how:
- Open the Control Panel
- Open the Device Manager Applet (pictured)
- Look down the list of devices to Sound, Video and Game Controllers
- If there is a yellow triangle with an exclamation point, we have some sort of device conflict.
- If there is no yellow triangle, we most likely have either an out-of-date driver or a driver corruption issue.
Microsoft XP Computer Repair-Fixing Device Conflicts
If, like mine, it’s working properly, it will say “This device is working properly.” If not, it will say what it sees as the problem and right-clicking will give you options to fix the problem it sees. If there is some sort of conflict with system resources, it will tell you and give you options to choose from to make the device use resources that aren’t currently in use.
Fixing Problems with Device Drivers
Over time, with repeated operating system modifications from Windows Update, or for unknown reasons, device drivers sometimes become corrupted and stop working properly. Since there are no conflicts and the driver has loaded, the system will report the device as working properly, but it won’t be.
There are two ways to fix this. One of the tabs in the Device Properties dialog is the Driver tab (pictured). This gives you information about the driver the system is using for the device.
On this tab you can view quite a bit of information about the driver and reinstall, or update the driver. Click the button labeled “Update Driver…” A new dialog will open asking if you want to search for and install the driver automatically or manually (pictured).
Choosing the automatic option will cause the computer to search in several locations on your computer and online for a new driver. The manual option will have you specify where you want the system to look for a newer driver. Both have prompts that are easy to understand and easy to follow.
Download Drivers from the Computer Maker
Sometimes your computer won’t be able to find a driver anywhere that will make that non-working piece of hardware work again. When this happens, it’s time to go to the company website that made your computer and download what they have. This is because the system usually only checks Microsoft-related sites and generic drivers and not those of the computer manufacturer.
Every computer manufacturer makes changes to the drivers for the hardware they install in their systems to ensure optimal performance. It is sometimes these changes that make the device work at all, when a generic driver, with no specific changes, won’t work.
Open your web browser and surf over to the home page of the company that made your computer (Dell, Compaq, Toshiba, EEE, Etc.) and click on either Support or Downloads. You’ll need to know the exact model number of the computer you have. For example, mine is a Toshiba Satellite L505-S5964.
With that information, you can browse through their menus, specifying your model and operating system, then navigate over to the downloads page. Almost every page is set up differently, but they should all list the downloads by type (audio, video, USB controller, etc.). Pick the correct one and download it to a location you can easily find it.
Once the new driver is downloaded, right-click on it to install it. Follow all the prompts to complete the installation process. Most likely you will have to reboot the computer to load the new driver and get your hardware working again.
Although running through the steps I’ve outlined above may have taken as much as two hours, you didn’t need to call the guys in the Volkswagens. You have the satisfaction of knowing you fixed the problem yourself and saved a significant chunk of change in the process.
Bookmark this document for later use and impress your friends with your newfound knowledge of Microsoft XP repair. These steps work for any piece of hardware in your computer, not just sound devices, as well.