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Chapter 17. Getting the Most Out of Devi... > Troubleshooting Device Driver Proble...

Troubleshooting Device Driver Problems

Other than problems with the hardware itself, device drivers are the cause of most device woes. This is true even if your device doesn’t have one of the problem icons that I mentioned in the previous section. That is, if you open the device’s properties sheet, Vista may tell you that the device is “working properly,” but all that means is that Vista can establish a simple communications channel with the device. So if your device isn’t working right, but Vista says otherwise, suspect a driver problem. Here are a few tips and pointers for correcting device driver problems:

  • Reinstall the driver— A driver might be malfunctioning because one or more of its files have become corrupted. You can usually solve this by reinstalling the driver. Just in case a disk fault caused the corruption, you should check the partition where the driver is installed for errors before reinstalling. (In Chapter 15, “Maintaining Your Windows Vista System,” see the “Checking Your Hard Disk for Errors” section for instructions on checking a disk for errors.)

  • Upgrade to a signed driver— Unsigned drivers are accidents waiting for a place to happen in Windows Vista, so you should upgrade to a signed driver, if possible. How can you tell whether an installed driver is unsigned? Open the device’s properties sheet, and display the Driver tab. Signed driver files display a name beside the Digital Signer label, whereas unsigned drivers display Not digitally signed instead. Refer to “Updating a Device Driver,” earlier in this chapter.

  • Disable an unsigned driver— If an unsigned driver is causing system instability and you can’t upgrade the driver, try disabling it. In the Driver tab of the device’s properties sheet, click Disable.

  • Use the Signature Verification Tool— This program checks your entire system for unsigned drivers. To use it, press Windows Logo+R (or select Start, All Programs, Accessories, Run) to open the Run dialog box, type sigverif, and click OK. In the File Signature Verification window, click Start. When the verification is complete, the program displays a list of the unsigned driver files (if any). The results for all the scanned files are written to the log file Sigverif.txt, which is copied to the %SystemRoot% folder when you close the window that shows the list of unsigned drivers. In the Status column of Sigverif.txt, look for files listed as Not Signed. If you find any, consider upgrading these drivers to signed versions.

  • Try the manufacturer’s driver supplied with the device— If the device came with its own driver, try either updating the driver to the manufacturer’s or running the device’s setup program.

  • Download the latest driver from the manufacturer— Device manufacturers often update drivers to fix bugs, add new features, and tweak performance. Go to the manufacturer’s website to see whether an updated driver is available. (See “Tips for Downloading Device Drivers,” next.)

  • Try Windows Update— The Windows Update website often has updated drivers for downloading. Select Start, All Programs, Windows Update and let the site scan your system. Then click the Driver Updates link to see which drivers are available for your system.

  • Roll back a driver— If the device stops working properly after you update the driver, try rolling it back to the old driver. (Refer to “Rolling Back a Device Driver,” earlier in this chapter.)


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