Again another set of chronicles from my life as a roadie fixin’ computers. It’s not an easy life dealing with older folk, many of whom harbor this notion that they brought the “best Computer” at the time only for me to tell them that PC’s get old every 2 human years. Never mind explaining to them product cycles or product refreshes!
What makes fixing dinosaur Computers so fun and frustrating is locating Drivers for most of these amazing pioneering yet long deceased machines. In most cases I’m lucky to even shoehorn Windows OS be it Windows XP or 7 onto these very slow devices as described in Tips and Tricks on how to make your Computer run faster.
Locating Device Drivers, the software that mediates between the OS (Operating System) and the motherboard’s attached stepchildren is another matter. Especially if the Laptop or Computer seemed to have come from an anti-diluvial period i.e. before Noah’s Flood!
Before you get hasty and pack up your tools to leave a Customer’s premises, you need to check to see if the entire cornucopia of Driver’s on the client’s PC or Laptop are in place! You can tell if you have missing Drivers by going to Control Panel, then selecting the System icon and finally selecting Device Manager. This procedure varies slightly from Windows XP to Windows 7, but it’s the same general set of steps and the Device Manager will look like this!
Once you’ve located the Device Manager Driver listing, it’ll show the missing Drivers as a Device with a Yellow triangular Caution sign, indicating that the Driver software need to be updated or is missing!
So I’m at the house. Just installed the OS but some Drivers are missing. What do I do, gentle people? I back out a pack of Ovaltine Biscuit to munch on while I ponder my next move. Follow the article and you’ll see how my mind tumbles!
Locating Drivers for Old Computers – Walk with A DVD with Common Drivers
Usually before I go to the Customer’s premises, I talk to them (more like interrogate, actually!) with the aim of ascertaining the Operating System and the make and model of their Computer.
After that goes well (usually it does!) I go ahead and download the Drivers based on this information. Some of these Computers may belong to a common series such as the Dell Computers, which I’ve discovered are VERY popular and quite common in the field.
It’s usually a good idea to download these Drivers and keep DVD’s filled with them handy. Best to store them in paper sleeve or the plastic Jewel cases as these are really Physical Backups as pointed out in How to do Physical Backup using DVD and CD and a Listing of the best software Burning DVD and CD’s.
Usually whenever I encounter a slow PC, I sometimes back out some spare memory that I have with me to swap into the Computer to boost things along. That speeds up transfers and allows me to work faster. I also walk packing an External Hard-Drive to backup the Customer’s Data before scrubbing and reinstalling; 80 GB external will do. Anything above that, I usually recommend they carry it to a PC shop, as I don’t take my work home with me.
No Driver for Old Computers – USB-to-Ethernet Converter and Modems are my go-to solution
Finally, I make sure I have a USB-to-Ethernet Converter and my Greenpacket Ex-250 WiMaX Modem on hand as described in How to setup and troubleshoot your Digicel 4G Broadband Modem. This is just in case the Customer’s Computer has exotic Drivers and none of the ones I came packing with me don’t work…..an event that rarely occurs but does every so often.
Not a good idea to depend on the Customer’s Internet unless it’s usually a FLOW Modem or LIME ADSL Modem. Good idea to ask that too before trudging up to those mountainous uptown places where the airs thin, making thinking hard!
Most Laptops and PC’s main gateway to the Internet is a Ethernet Port; if the Ethernet Modem Driver I have packing fails, then I draw for the Internet using my Greenpacker Ex-250 WiMaX Modem connected via my USB-to-Ethernet Converter.
Then I Google Online for common OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) support based on the Make and Model of the Computer as a search term:
- ASUS Driver Support
- Dell Drivers and Downloads
- Gateway Drivers
- HP Drivers and Support
- Nvidia Drivers
- Samsung Drivers
- Toshiba Drivers and Support
- Acer Drivers and Manual Support
For very hard to find Drivers, the following trusty resources are known to help based on my experience and in fact come highly recommended:
- CNET Downloads
- Driver Files
- Driver Zone
- Driver’s Kit
- Microsoft Hardware Driver’s Download Center
- Softpedia Drivers
- Techspot Drivers
Hint: it’s usually a good idea to have a 8GB Thumb Drive with software Tools on hand as well as the above URL’s saved for quick reference. Can’t memorize them all I’m afraid!
Un-identifyable Drivers – CPU-ID and a physical Inspection are your last resort
In the rare case I can’t find the Driver, googling the OEM is the last resort based on the Motherboard and the type of hardware. That requires opening up the Computer and looking on the Device for which the Driver is missing.
Determine the type of Motherboard can be done using CPU-Z as described in How to use CPU-Z to Identify Processors. The latest versions of this software can also locate Drivers for some hardware and remains a favourite software tool for me to use to recommend Hardware parts to customers!
Armed with these tools, I usually get the job done….so long as I don’t run out of Ovaltine Biscuits and I can pickup Digicel’s 4G Broadband Internet uptown!
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