PC owners dread having to reinstall the Windows operating system because the process is akin to buying a brand new computer, off the shelf. Recall when you first obtained your computer system. You brought it home from the store and unpacked the contents of the box. After setting the system up on a desk or table you simply pressed the Power button to it on -- and from that very first moment Windows was probably usable and at your disposal.
Over time, however, you may have added numerous software programs and applications, as well as internal hardware components and external peripherals to your system. For example, many people add TV tuners to a desktop or laptop PC so that they can watch digital cable TV on their computer, instead on a regular TV set. Using a PC in this manner expands the options that people have for watching TV, such as turning the PC into a digital video recorder, or DVR, instead of buying yet another expensive appliance that only performs a single function.
When you install new hardware devices on a PC you may also have to install device drivers that help the operating system recognize this new addition. So if you have to reinstall Windows that means you may have to reinstall every single driver that you have ever installed since you began using the PC. If you are having trouble finding these driver files, there are at least five ways to go about retrieving this critical software.
Use the "Windows Update" service to update the drivers on the PC. For most versions of Windows, click on the Start button in the bottom left hand corner of desktop on the taskbar. Type "windows update" in the search box at the bottom of the Start menu. Press the Enter key to open the Windows Update dialog box.
Click the Check For Updates button. Wait for the operating system to check for updated drivers on Microsoft's servers. The Windows operating system is intuitive enough to realize when device drivers for connected hardware is missing, and you may even see notifications icons on the taskbar stating that there is a error with hardware.
Access drivers from the Recovery Partition on the computer's hard drive. If your computer was made by an original equipment manufacturer, such as HP, Dell or Toshiba, these companies might have included a copy of the original device drivers on a separate partition, such as the E, F, or G drive. When you reformat Windows on the C drive, using this Recovery Partition, you are pulling these files from another partition. You may also be able to pull device drivers from this partition as well.
Obtain device drivers for the Recovery CD, if the OEM included these discs with your PC purchase. In some cases, new PC owners must make their own recovery discs.
Visit your computer manufacturer's Support website to find drivers. This is probably best resource for original drivers, because the OEM will often drivers as needed.
Navigate to the website of the company that made the specific hardware device to find drivers. For example, popular printer manufacturers include Brother, Lexmark, Canon and Epson. You can downloaded updated drivers from a printer manufacturers website if your machine becomes unresponsive.
- Avoid downloading drivers from unfamiliar sources because the software may actually harbor computer viruses that can impair Windows.
Sources and Citations
- " Automatically get recommended drivers and updates for your hardware." Microsoft Windows. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 Feb. 2012. <http://windows.microsoft.com/en-US/windows7/Automatically-get-recommended-drivers-and-updates-for-your-hardware>.
- " Find and install printer drivers for Windows 7." Microsoft Windows. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 Feb. 2012. <http://windows.microsoft.com/en-US/windows7/Find-and-install-printer-drivers>.
- " How can I decide which drivers are safe to install?." Microsoft Windows. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 Feb. 2012. <http://windows.microsoft.com/en-US/windows7/How-can-I-decide-which-drivers-are-safe-to-install>.
- " Understanding hardware and software for 64-bit versions of Windows." Microsoft Windows. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 Feb. 2012. <http://windows.microsoft.com/en-US/windows7/understanding-hardware-and-software-for-64-bit-windows>.
- " Update a driver for hardware that isn't working properly." Microsoft Windows. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 Feb. 2012. <http://windows.microsoft.com/en-US/windows7/Update-a-driver-for-hardware-that-isnt-working-properly>.
- " Update drivers: recommended links." Microsoft Windows. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 Feb. 2012. <http://windows.microsoft.com/en-US/windows7/Update-drivers-recommended-links>.
- " Upgrading from Windows XP to Windows 7 - Help & How-to - Microsoft Windows." Microsoft Windows. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 Feb. 2012. <http://windows.microsoft.com/en-us/windows7/help/upgrading-from-windows-xp-to-windows-7?t1=tab06>.
- " What is a driver?." Microsoft Windows. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 Feb. 2012. <http://windows.microsoft.com/en-US/windows7/What-is-a-driver>.
- " Which drivers get loaded in safe mode?." Microsoft Windows. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 Feb. 2012. <http://windows.microsoft.com/en-US/windows7/Which-drivers-get-loaded-in-safe-mode>.