Five Ways to Troubleshoot a Device in Windows

The Windows operating system is much like any other piece of technology in that sometimes things just don’t work the way they should. That brand new microphone you just bought might not work right after you take it out of the package. That external hard drive you paid so much money for might stop being recognized one day. In the event that disaster happens, don’t worry. There are a few different things you can try to troubleshoot the device in question and get it back up and running again.


Check your connections. The first step that you take in troubleshooting a particular device should always be to make sure not just that the cable for the device is plugged into the right port, but that it’s plugged in at all. If you’re trying to use an external hard drive, for example, follow the cable from the device to the back of your computer and make sure the cable connection is sure. Also note that some devices can only be plugged into specific inputs. For example, if you’re trying to plug a microphone into your computer it needs to be plugged into the “Microphone” input on the back of the machine. The microphone cable will fit into other inputs, but your computer will not be able to properly recognize the device.


Open the Device Manager. This can be found by opening the Control Panel or by searching for the name of the program in the Windows “Start” menu. Right away, the Windows Device Manager will run a quick scan of your computer to see if any devices are functioning improperly. If any device errors are found, you will be notified by way of a small yellow icon. Right-click on the device that is having issues to view a list of things you can do to fix the problem.


Reinstall your driver. A device is the name of the computer program that tells your Windows computer and your device how to talk to each other. If this device develops an error, your computer may not be able to recognize a piece of equipment even if the equipment itself is working. Reinstall the driver using the CD or DVD that came with the device when you purchased it. You can also find the driver on the website for the company that made the device. Reinstalling the driver will fix the issue in most cases.


Run Windows Update. Sometimes when a large Windows update is released, the newer Windows software doesn’t immediately work with your older Windows hardware. In the event that this happens, wait a few days and run Windows Update again. If the device incompatibility issue is widespread, Microsoft will often release a fix designed specifically at correcting those issues. A simple Windows Update could solve the problem without the need of exerting any additional effort on your part.


Update your driver. If running Windows Update doesn’t do the trick, you may have to manually update the driver yourself. Note that this is different from simply reinstalling the driver. This may be necessary if you upgrade from one version of Windows to another, like from Windows Vista to Windows 7 or from Windows 7 to Windows 8. Go to the website of the company that made your device and search for your product by model number. On the model’s page there should be a category labeled “Downloads.” Look for the newest version of the driver and download it. Install the file like you would any other program and reboot your computer. This will fix the issue in a large number of situations.

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