The main tool in Windows XP used for managing drivers is Device Manager. The Device Manager provides a graphical view of the hardware that is currently installed on the computer. The device drivers and resources associated with that hardware are listed in the properties of each device. If you have never opened the utility, you can so do by right clicking on My Computer, selecting Properties, and clicking the Device Manager button from the Hardware tab.

If you have taken a peek in the Device Manager before, you may have noticed some kind of icon or mark beside one of your hardware components. Such a symbol would usually indicate that a device is not functioning correctly. However, the type of symbol will give you more of an indication as to what the problem might be. So here is a quick overview of the meaning behind these symbols.

  • A black exclamation point (!) on a yellow field – Indicates that the device is not functioning properly.
  • A red “X” – Indicates the device as been disabled.
  • A blue “i” on a white field – Indicates the device was manually configured
  • A green question mark (?) – Indicates that a compatible driver is installed but the device may not have all the functionality available.

It is always important to ensure that the device drivers are up-to-date. Manufacturers often update their drivers to fix problems and take advantage of operating system features. Updated drivers can be obtained from the manufacturer’s Web site. Some may also be available from Windows Update.

Before installing an updated driver, read the manufacturer’s instructions. Downloaded driver files are typically compressed into a self-executing file that needs to be extracted to your hard drive. Alternatively, you can use Device Manager to update existing drivers.

  1. From the Device Manager, double-click the type of device you want to update or change.
  2. Click the Driver tab.
  3. Click Update Driver to open the Hardware Update Wizard.
  4. Accept the default option, Install the Software Automatically. Choose the Install from a List or Specific Location option if you have the updated driver so you can indicate the file location. Click Next.
  5. Windows searches for an updated driver and instructs you if an updated driver has been found. Install the updated driver and click Finish.

The driver Roll Back feature can be used if you encounter problems after updating a driver. For example, such problems include error messages when you access the device, faulty behavior of the device, or even the inability to start Windows.

To use the Roll Back feature with Windows XP, open the Device Manager and follow these steps:

  1. Right-click the device for which you want to re-install the previous version of the driver and click Properties.
  2. Click the Drivers tab.
  3. Click the Roll Back Driver button.

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