Computer drivers are programs that allow your hardware work in harmony with the operating system. They are very important because of their ability to prevent computer malfunction and ensure devices work properly. It is therefore imperative that they are not overlooked during system maintenance and are updated regularly for performance and security improvements.
There are certain times however when one is unable to prevent driver-related errors from happening for example, when a driver file is corrupted or when an existing device driver is overwritten during the re-installation of an operating system, especially without the manufacturer’s driver CD. When driver-related errors occur, they are quite conspicuous and cause disruptions in computer performance which can be noticed when for example, one is unable to connect to the Internet after re-installing the operating system.
The following explains how I solved a similar problem recently and could be useful if you find yourself in a comparable situation.
Locate the computer’s device manager by right-clicking My Computer > Properties > Hardware > Device manager (e.g. in Windows XP) and check for the hardware with missing drivers indicated by yellow question mark icons labelled as ‘Unknown or Other Devices’.
Normally the simple solution to this would be to install the missing drivers directly from the manufacturer’s CD however because the installation disc is missing and the devices are unknown, one has to find an alternative way of locating the drivers;
- Priority should be given to enabling Internet connectivity by locating and installing the network controller driver. This can be done via another computer with Internet access. Check for your computer manufacturer’s (drivers and download centre) website for the most current version of the driver then download and install it to your system.
- Now that you are connected to the Internet, I would recommend using Driver Max (DM) and PCI Database identify the unknown devices. DM is a freeware that can also be used in performing regular driver updates. Select ‘Updates and Identification’ to discover the ‘unknown hardware’. This would open a new browser window and list all the unknown hardware devices on your computer as shown below.
- Most times what you would get is a code such as VEN_8086; DEV_27D8; SUBSYS_01; BD1028; and REV_01 also known as the hardware ID. The bold numbers above are the Vendor ID while the bold and italic alpha-numeric characters represent the Device ID.
- Log on to PCI Database and enter the device ID to search for the vendors download-page URL. Download and install the drivers and watch your computer get back to action!
- Confirm that the drivers are properly installed by going back to the device manager to ensure it says ‘the device is working properly’.