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Windows Drivers Could Be Source of Crashes

Paul Watson, PC Technician

Tuesday, April 15th 2014

On a Windows computer, nothing is more frustrating than the Blue Screen of Death (BSOD). Seemingly, they come from nowhere, and could occur when the user is doing something relatively innocuous, like surfing the Web. So could Windows drivers cause BSODs, and how can you stop them?

Windows drivers could be at fault

Windows drivers aren’t always the root causes of BSODs, but they can be the cause of specific kind of crashes. Some users have their computers set to restart automatically after a crash. In this mode, you tend to miss the information on the BSOD screen, which can reveal the cause of the crash.
Now, to be fair, most people don’t know what “DRIVER_IRQL_NOT_LESS_OR_EQUAL” means, and that’s the kind of message you’ll find on a BSOD. So what does this mean, and what can you do about it?

First, if your computer crashes regularly and seemingly randomly, and you want to get a better handle on what’s happening, you can configure your computer to stop on a crash, instead of restarting right away. This first step isn’t much, but it can give you a clue as to where to start debugging your crashing computer.

To configure your computer to bypass the automatic restart, go to the Control Panel and select System and Security. Under System, choose Advanced Settings. Under Startup and Recovery, uncheck the “Automatically Restart” option. “Ok” your way out of the control panel. After opting out of automatic restarts, a BSOD screen will stay in place until you manually restart the computer.

If you don’t want to manually restart, but you still want to know what the apparent cause of your crash was, you can retrieve log files and related splatter from the C:\Windows\Minidump file. You could find several files here, depending upon how often your system crashes. The files will contain, among other things, information about the root cause of your problem.

If you receive the “DRIVER_IRQL_NOT_LESS_OR_EQUAL” message, however, you can be sure that one of your drivers is not playing nice with the Windows kernel. Debugging driver failures can be challenging, but the log files should be able to identify which applications or services were running at the time of the crash. In some cases, software like anti-virus suites can cause kernel-level driver problems. Generally, these are well documented. Resolving these kinds of crashes may require you to uninstall your current anti-virus software, apply updates or patches, or switch products.

Windows includes a built in firewall and security option called Security Essentials. In many cases, this built in software will enable you to keep your system protected while you debug your crash problem and decide how to fix it.

You can also use Driver Detective to keep your drivers updated. Using outdated drivers can cause problems, especially after system updates have been applied. Driver Detective is one of the most often-downloaded, trusted Windows driver maintenance programs on the market today. Download your copy and automate the tasks of driver updates!

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Microsoft Fixes Windows Driver Update Bug

Paul Watson, PC Technician

Saturday, March 15th 2014

Microsoft Fixes Windows Driver Update Bug

Microsoft Fixes Windows Driver Update Bug

Users of Microsoft’s Windows 8.1 may have encountered a bug that will prevent systems from updating Windows drivers and firmware. Microsoft has addressed the bug and once patched, Windows 8.1 users can resume normal hardware driver updates.

Push-button reset causes Windows driver update failure

Windows 8.1 users may encounter the fault after performing a push-button reset on a Windows 8.1 based device. The company reports that following such a reset, the device will no longer permit routine driver and firmware updates. The bug is known to affect all x86 and x64 versions of Windows 8.1, including, Windows 8.1 Enterprise,

Windows 8.1, Windows 8.1 Preview, Windows 8.1 Pro, Windows RT 8.1, Windows Server 2012 R2 Datacenter, Windows Server 2012 R2 Essentials, Windows Server 2012 R2 Foundation, and Windows Server 2012 R2 Standard. If you are not running Windows 8.1, this bug does not affect your system. You may visit the Microsoft Support site to download the patch for this bug.

The patches for this problem were originally released in December 2013. According to Microsoft, the bug is the result of a driver or firmware dependency that was added to Windows 8.1. The patch does not replace any update files that Microsoft previously distributed.

While many driver updates are distributed through Microsoft, you can achieve more effective driver management with a driver software management program like Driver Detective. Driver Detective provides a range of services that go well beyond applying simple updates to certain drivers.

Driver Detective manages all Windows drivers required by the specific hardware installed on your PC. You can always be certain that you have the correct version of every required driver, as well as a fresh copy of each driver file, in the event that a driver becomes corrupted, lost or deleted. In addition, Driver Detective monitors and manages the update process, to ensure that you always have the latest version of the Windows drivers your hardware requires.

Driver Detective is available for all supported versions of the Windows operating system. No matter what version of the OS or what hardware you have installed, Driver Detective can help manage your PC and keep your system up-to-date.

Millions of users around the globe have downloaded and installed Driver Detective, and trust it to manage all of their Windows driver files. Don’t waste time manually downloading, updating, restoring and backing up your PC’s driver files. Leave that to Driver Detective instead!

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Finding Unknown and Missing Windows Drivers

Paul Watson, PC Technician

Saturday, February 15th 2014

Finding Unknown and Missing Windows Drivers

Finding Unknown and Missing Windows Drivers

Windows has gotten very good at hardware driver management over the years, but it doesn’t manage every hardware driver situation properly. No matter how “average” you think your system is, you may find yourself looking for Windows drivers and driver information when you install a new system, upgrade a system, or reinstall your Windows operating system. Finding the correct drivers for your Windows hardware can be time-consuming. It can also lead to some unexpected results when you accidentally install the wrong driver.

Where to look for Windows drivers

Some users think that Microsoft will automatically update your hardware drivers. They’re correct to a point. Microsoft will distribute driver updates from manufacturers that provide driver updates to Microsoft, and whose drivers adhere to Microsoft’s driver development policies. While most manufacturers make compliant drivers, many choose to manage their own driver distribution. For Windows users, this means additional work to locate, download and install Windows drivers.

When you’ve completed a new Windows installation or a complete system upgrade, open your Device Manager. The Device Manager will identify unknown devices as either “Unknown Device” or “Other Device.” Windows will also provide a visual indication that something’s not quite right with the device(s) in question. Usually, you’ll see a yellow “caution” icon with an exclamation point to the left of the device listing. The device will be listed as an “Unknown Device.” Windows knows that something is there, but it doesn’t know what the device is, couldn’t identify it, or doesn’t have the correct Windows driver to make the device work properly.

So, if Windows doesn’t know what the device is, and you don’t know what the device is, where do you start? Right-click on the Unknown Device and select Properties from the pop-up. In the pop-up, choose the Details tab. The Details tab will have a “Property” window that can help you identify the mystery device. While there seems to be an unending amount of information available about Device X, there are a few properties that will be more helpful than others. The first two – Device Description and Hardware IDs – come to mind.

Using the hardware ID information – which is equivalent to the device’s “name, rank and serial number,” you can usually identify the device in question. Once you have some basic information, you can go to the device manufacturer’s website (or even do an Internet search for more information) to help you locate the correct driver for the device. Once you’ve located the driver, download and install it. Your “Unknown Device” should begin working immediately.

Driver Detective, a driver software management program, can also help you locate, download and store the current version of any driver your PC needs. Users around the globe have downloaded driver Detective more than a million times. Driver Detective will let you know about driver updates when they happen, so you always have the latest version of your hardware drivers available. Driver Detective will also keep a fresh copy of the current driver handy, so you can quickly reinstall a driver that becomes corrupted or deleted.

Download your copy of Driver Detective today and take the fuss out of managing your PC’s hardware drivers.

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Finding Windows Drivers Using Driverquery

Paul Watson, PC Technician

Wednesday, January 15th 2014

Finding Windows Drivers Using Driverquery

Finding Windows Drivers Using Driverquery

For the most part, Windows is a graphical user interface, so finding out which Windows drivers are installed usually involves a quick trip to the Device Manager. Sometimes, add-on hardware also comes with its own control software, and you can find driver information there, too. But sometimes you want something quicker, dirtier or in a different format. So where do you go?

Driverquery lists Windows drivers

Built into Windows’ command-line interface is a command called driverquery. Driverquery, when run from the CLI, will produce a list of all installed drivers. Not a bad little command for a quick-and-dirty inspection of the installed drivers on a system. Driverquery could be useful when you’ve just completed an installation and want a fresh list of all installed drivers. You could also use the command when you’re troubleshooting, or comparing your current driver list to an original driver list.
The basic syntax of the command is as follows:

driverquery

The output of the command is:

Module (filename), Description, Driver Type and file date.

Like any good Windows command, driverquery knows a few tricks that can help you out or make the output more useful. Driverquery understands the following switches:

/foThis is a format command and can accept three arguments. They are: CSV, LIST and TABLE. CSV provides comma-separated values as output. LIST lists out the installed drivers sequentially and TABLE is the default output of the command.

/s This switch enables you to look at the installed driver list of another PC. To use this switch, supply the IP address of the remote PC you want to examine as an argument to the switch. Driverquery will list all of the installed drivers on the remote PC. This could be exceptionally helpful when trying to diagnose an uncooperative system.

/si This switch allows you to look at the digital signature information for all installed, signed drivers.

Like any other Windows command-line query, you can save the output of the command to a file. This is a helpful, fast way to document the status of your PC at any given time, but it’s especially helpful if you run the command following initial installations, upgrades and other maintenance activities. To save the output of the command to a file, pipe the output to a file instead of displaying it on the monitor. To do that, use the following syntax:

Driverquery > filename.txt

This will redirect the output of the command to a file named filename.txt. You can substitute any file name for your output file.
Another easy way to manage the Windows drivers on your PC is to use Driver Detective. Driver Detective helps you manage and monitor the installed drivers on your PC, and helps you manage updates to your driver software. You’ll never be without the correct driver when you use Driver Detective to manage all of your Windows drivers.

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