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How To Update Drivers in Windows XP

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Hardware Update Wizard in Windows XP

Hardware Update Wizard in Windows XP

Updating drivers for a piece of hardware is necessary when Windows XP doesn't install a device automatically or when the hardware is having some kind of problem.

Updating a driver is a common solution to lots of Windows hardware problems, especially Device Manager error code. Updating the drivers for a piece of hardware in Windows XP will also sometimes enable additional features for the hardware.

Follow these easy steps to update drivers from within Device Manager in Windows XP:

Difficulty: Easy
Time Required: It'll take you around 15 minutes to update a driver in Windows XP

Here's How:

  1. Download and extract the latest drivers direct from the hardware maker. Drivers from the manufacturer are best but other options exist too.

    You could also update drivers from Windows Update or from a hardware installation disc but updating manually (as described below) is usually the better way to go.

    Note: Some drivers come ready to be installed automatically - just run the downloaded application and everything is done for you. The hardware maker's website should make it very clear when you download if that's the case and if so, you can skip all the steps on this page.

  2. Open Device Manager from the Windows XP Computer Management utility.

    Note: There are also other ways of opening Device Manager. It doesn't matter which way you choose.

  3. With Device Manager open, locate the device that you want to update the drivers for.

    Note: Use the [+] icon to open up the hardware categories which contain the actual devices.

  4. Now that you've found the device, right click on its name or icon and choose Properties.

    In the Properties window, select the Driver tab.

  5. Click the Update Driver... button. The Hardware Update Wizard will begin.

  6. To the "Can Windows connect to Windows Update to search for software?" question, choose the No, not this time radio button and then click the Next > button.

  7. To the "What do you want the wizard to do?" question, choose the Install from a list or specific location (Advanced) radio button and then click the Next > button.

    The next window that appears will be the Please choose your search and installation options. window containing several radio buttons and checkboxes.

  8. Choose the Don't search. I will choose the driver to install. radio button and then click the Next > button.

  9. Click the Have Disk... button on the Select the device driver you want to install for this hardware. window.

  10. Click the Browse... button on the Install From Disk dialog box that appeared.

    In the Locate File dialog box that appears next, navigate to the folder that you extracted as part of the driver download. Try to find your way to a folder labeled for Windows XP but don't worry if you don't find one.

  11. Click the INF file that displays in the file list and click the Open button.

    Note: Device Manager only reads INF files so you won't be able so select anything else. If you run in to trouble here, see the Tips at the bottom of this page.

  12. Click the OK button back on the Install From Disk dialog box.

  13. Choose the newly added hardware back on the Select the device driver you want to install for this hardware. window and then click the Next > button.

    If you're warned about the software for the hardware device not passing the Windows Logo testing, click the Continue Anyway button. Many drivers are not Windows certified but are still safe to install.

    Important: If you're installing a driver from anywhere other than the manufacturer of the hardware, click the STOP Installation button instead and obtain drivers from the manufacturer directly.

  14. The Hardware Update Wizard will now use the instructions provided in the INF file from Step 11 to install the updated drivers for your hardware. Follow any additional instructions on screen to complete the driver update.

  15. After the driver update is complete, click Yes to the "Do you want to restart your computer now?" question on System Settings Change dialog box.

    Note: Not all driver updates require a restart of your computer. Even if you're not prompted, I always recommend restarting anyway. The driver update process involves changes to the Windows Registry and other areas of Windows. Restarting is a good way to confirm that updating drivers hasn't negatively impacted some other area of Windows XP.

    If the driver update did cause some kind of problem, just roll back the driver and things should return to normal.

Tips:

  1. Couldn't find an INF file in the Windows XP folder? Try another folder.

  2. Couldn't find an INF file in any folder? The driver download may have been corrupted. Try downloading and extracting the drivers again.

  3. Find INFO files in multiple folders? Try a file from each folder until the drivers for your hardware are installed properly.

  4. Not a Windows XP user? See How To Update Drivers in Windows for links to steps specific for your operating system.

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