Every now and then, you try to install something, or update something and things start to go awry. Windows is such a huge, complex beast, that fixing any problems can become seemingly impossible. Having seen and fixed a great many problems, I would like to provide HEXUS Forum readers with a list of the approach I feel is best to go about attempting to sort such problems.
Along with this guide, the HEXUS Help section also contains guides on hardware failures and boot failures. If the situation is more along these lines than an apparant driver or software problem, then I suggest you consult those guides instead.
When did the problem start?
If you've read my guide to posting queries then you'll know that it's a good idea to work out what, to the best of your knowledge, the problem is likely to be associated with. A good way of helping you assertain this is to think back to when the problem first became apparant. If it takes the form of a crash and reboot, it will probably be fairly easy to remember. If the error is more subtle, then pinpointing the start date is more difficult.
What had been going on when the problem started?
Once you have an idea of when the problem started, you can think about anything else that happened around that time. Perhaps you updated the software, installed something new, added a new device to the system. They key question here is: If you reverse what was done around that time, does the problem go away? System Restore is a good way of trying this, providing your OS version supports it and there is a snapshot from before the problems started.
Found the problem? If so, see if you can work out how to get whatever you changed to work in harmony with the system. Ask in the forums if you get stuck. If, of course, you don't actually need or use whatever you added/changed, then make do without, and enjoy a problem-free system again!
Still no Luck? Try updates.
OK, maybe you need whatever you've added that's causing the problem, or the problem persists regardless of your efforts up to now. The next thing to try is any relevant updates.
Check for updated drivers or updates for the problem software. A lot of the time you won't be the only person who's had the problem, and so a fix may well exist in an update, even if it's not blatenly documented as such. When serching for updates, don't be overly specific. For example, a graphics driver update might not be enough to fix a graphics problem. It might be the motherboard's AGP driver that in fact needs updating.
One last thing - Reinstallation.
The last software approach to try is likely to be a reinstallation of the prime suspect. Sometimes this results in you losing personal settings, so back any up and restore them once reinstalled. If this doesn't work, then maybe there's something wrong with the personal settings. Uninstall the program completely and make sure all folders are gone (if you're good with the windows registry, have a look in there too, but only if you know what you're doing.)
If a driver is the problem, then try uninstalling it from the devices menu. Upon restarting the driver should reinstall any may prompt you for a location for the drivers... If that doesn't work, then try going into safe mode and doing the same. Safe mode often displays devices that are hidden in normal mode, particularly on older windows versions such as 98.
Well, you've tried quite a lot and might have a better idea of what the problem is. But, if you haven't fixed it yet, then make sure you ask here in the forums. Somebody will probably get you sorted!
If you've been having a driver problem, then perhaps the hardware is at fault rather than the driver. See the hardware troubleshooting guide (coming soon) for more tips.