Article ID: 322205 - View products that this article applies to.
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Summary

This article guides you through troubleshooting steps for hardware and software driver problems in Windows XP. The article is intended for a beginning to intermediate computer user. However, it does contain an "Advanced troubleshooting" section for more advanced users.

You may find it easier to follow the steps if you print this article first.

Note Several of these methods require you to restart your computer or leave the page that you are viewing now. So, before you continue, you might find it helpful to create a shortcut to this Web page on your desktop. To create a shortcut, follow these steps:
  1. Right-click an empty area on this page, and then click Create Shortcut in the list that appears.
  2. In the Internet Explorer dialog box, click Yes or OK to create a shortcut to this article on your desktop.
Locate the shortcut on your desktop and double-click its icon to return to this article when you need to.

Note When you are finished with this article, you can right-click the icon and select Delete to delete it from your desktop.

Symptoms

There are many reasons why you might have a hardware or software driver problem. You might have installed an update that caused your driver to stop working. You might have installed some new hardware and not yet installed the necessary driver for that hardware, or the driver might be incompatible or corrupted.

To help us know which method we should ask you to try first, please select the symptom that most resembles your problem.

After you install new hardware, new software, or hardware drivers on a Windows XP-based computer, you experience the following symptom:

Resolution

Method 1: Disconnect any new hardware

If you recently installed a new hardware device, the necessary driver for that hardware might not be installed, or the driver might be incompatible or corrupted. To determine whether this is true, follow these steps:
  1. Disconnect the device.
  2. Restart Windows XP.
If Windows XP starts successfully, there is a driver issue with the new hardware. Please contact the device manufacturer to obtain updated drivers for the device or to learn about any known hardware issues so that you can reinstall the device.

For information about how to contact the device manufacturer, visit the following Microsoft Web site:
http://support.microsoft.com/gp/vendors
Microsoft provides third-party contact information to help you find technical support. This contact information may change without notice. Microsoft does not guarantee the accuracy of this third-party contact information.

If this method resolved the issue, you are finished. If this method did not work for you, go to method 4.

Method 2: Search the Microsoft Knowledge Base

If you received an error message on a blue screen, you can copy the text of the message and use it to search the Microsoft Knowledge Base for useful information.

If you received an error message on a blue screen, you can copy the text of the error and search the Microsoft Knowledge Base for useful information.

The Microsoft Knowledge Base is a collection of more than 150,000 articles that Microsoft support professionals create and update regularly. You can use keywords and query words to find the content that you want.

To search the Microsoft Knowledge Base, follow these steps:
  1. Copy the text of the error message.
  2. Visit the following Microsoft Web site:
    http://support.microsoft.com
  3. Type the text of the error message in the Search box, and type the name of the product that you are using, such as "Windows XP."
  4. Click Search, and try to find an article that will help you resolve your problem.
If this method worked, you are finished. If this method did not work for you, go to method 4.

Method 3: Disable automatic restart on system failure

If the system is continuously restarting, follow these steps:
  1. Restart the computer.
  2. As the computer is restarting, press the F8 key repeatedly until you see the Windows Advanced Options screen.
  3. Use the arrow keys to select Disable automatic restart on system failure, and then press ENTER.
  4. If you receive an error message, follow these steps to search the Microsoft Knowledge Base for useful information about the error message:
    1. Copy the text of the error message.
    2. Visit the following Microsoft Web site:
      http://support.microsoft.com
    3. Type the text of the error message in the Search box, and type the name of the product that you are using, such as "Windows XP."
    4. Click Search, and try to find an article that will help you resolve your problem.
If this method worked, you have resolved the issue of your computer continually restarting. However, you may want to continue to troubleshoot driver issues. Review the "Symptoms" section again, and determine which method to use to resolve the issue.

If this method worked, you are finished. If this method did not work for you, please try Method 4.

Method 4: Use the Last Known Good Configuration feature

If you can start the computer successfully, you can use the Last Known Good Configuration feature. This feature uses information that was saved the last time that you shut down the computer before the problems began. Use this feature to restore your registry settings and drivers to that previous information.

If you are not completely sure what that means, do not worry. None of these procedures will harm your computer. However, you should be aware that if you do this, any changes that were made to your computer after the last known good configuration date will be lost.

If you have recently installed a driver and are now experiencing a configuration problem, this method will probably work for you. Unfortunately, this feature does not resolve problems that are caused by missing or corrupted drivers or files.

To use the Last Known Good Configuration feature, follow these steps:
  1. Restart the computer.
  2. As the computer is restarting, press the F8 key repeatedly until you see the Windows Advanced Options screen.
  3. Use the arrow keys to select Last Known Good Configuration (your most recent settings that worked), and then press ENTER.
  4. If you are prompted to select an operating system, use the arrow keys to select the operating system, and then press ENTER.
If this method worked, your computer is restored to a good working state. You might still want to investigate what originally caused this issue. To do this, please see the "Next Steps" section for more troubleshooting resources.

If this method did not work for you, go to method 5.

Method 5: Use the System Restore feature

The System Restore feature resembles the Last Known Good Configuration feature, except that the System Restore feature enables you to select a date before the last successful shutdown. You can use it to select a "restore point." A restore point is like a snapshot of your computer that Windows XP records periodically. System Restore uses the information in that snapshot to restore your computer to the earlier date.

Note System Restore does not affect your personal data files, such as Word documents, browsing history, graphics, favorites, or e-mail. You will not lose any changes that you made to these files.

Note This section asks you to log on to the computer by using an administrator account or by using an account that has administrator credentials.

To start, select "Option 1: Windows XP does not start" if you cannot start Windows XP, or select "Option 2: Windows XP starts" if you can start Windows XP.

Option 1: Windows XP does not start

If Windows XP does not start, follow these steps to use the System Restore feature:
  1. Restart the computer.
  2. As the computer is restarting, repeatedly press the F8 key until you see the Windows Advanced Options screen.
  3. Use the arrow keys to select Safe Mode with Command Prompt, and then press ENTER. For more information about safe mode, click the following article number to view the article in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:
    315222 A description of the safe mode boot options in Windows XP
  4. Log on to the computer as an administrator.
  5. Click Start, and then click Run.
  6. Type the following command in the Open box, and then press ENTER:
    %systemroot%\system32\restore\rstrui.exe
  7. Follow the instructions that appear on the screen to restore the computer settings to a previous configuration.

Option 2: Windows XP starts

If Windows XP starts for you, follow these steps to use the System Restore feature:
  1. Log on to the computer as an administrator.
  2. Click Start, point to All Programs, point to Accessories, point to System Tools, and then click System Restore. System Restore starts.
  3. On the Welcome to System Restore page, click Restore my computer to an earlier time if this option is not already selected. Then, click Next.
  4. On the Select a Restore Point page, click the most recent system checkpoint in the On this list, click a restore point list, and then click Next. You may receive a message that lists configuration changes that System Restore will make. Click OK.

    Note You may receive a message that lists the configuration changes that System Restore will make. Click OK.
  5. On the Confirm Restore Point Selection page, click Next. System Restore restores the previous Windows XP configuration, and then System Restore restarts the computer.
  6. Log on to the computer as an administrator.
  7. The System Restore Restoration Complete page appears, click OK.
If this method worked, your computer is restored to a working state. You might still want to investigate what originally caused this issue. To do this, please see the "Next Steps" section for more troubleshooting resources.

If this method did not work for you, and you are comfortable with advanced troubleshooting, try the steps in the "Advanced troubleshooting" section. If you are not comfortable trying advanced troubleshooting steps, see the "Next Steps" section.

Advanced troubleshooting

This section contains advanced troubleshooting steps that are intended for advanced users to resolve driver issues. Start with step 1.

Step 1: Start Windows XP in safe mode

Start in safe mode to bypass the typical Windows settings and startup programs, because those settings and programs may be affected by the issue that you are experiencing. Troubleshooting in safe mode might help resolve the problem.

To start the computer in safe mode, follow these steps:
  1. Restart the computer. Press the F8 key repeatedly until you see the Windows Advanced Options screen.
  2. Use the arrow keys to select Safe Mode with Command Prompt, and then press ENTER.
  3. If you are prompted to select a version of Windows, select the correct version and then press ENTER.
Continue to advanced troubleshooting step 2.

Step 2: Use the Roll Back Driver

Use the device driver rollback feature to reverse the consequences of having installed an invalid, incorrect, or corrupted device driver by restoring the previously installed driver.

To use the Roll Back Driver, follow these steps:
  1. Click Start, and then click Run.
  2. Copy and then paste (or type) the following command in the Open box, and then press ENTER:
    devmgmt.msc
  3. Expand the appropriate hardware category that contains the problematic device. Double-click the device for which you want to restore the driver.
  4. Click the Driver tab, and then click Roll Back Driver.
  5. Restart your computer.
If you do not experience the issue after you restart, you have resolved the problem. If the issue remains, go to advanced troubleshooting step 3.

Step 3: Determine whether a third-party program or utility is causing the issue

Disable all services, except the Microsoft services, to determine whether a third-party program, utility, or service is causing the issue. To do this, follow these steps:
  1. Click Start, and then click Run.
  2. Copy and then paste (or type) the following command in the Open box, and then press ENTER:
    msconfig
  3. Click the General tab, click Selective Startup, and then click to clear all check boxes except the Load System Services check box.
  4. Click the Services tab, and then click Hide all Microsoft Services.
  5. Click Disable all.
  6. Click OK, and then restart the computer.
If Windows XP starts, go to advanced troubleshooting step 4. If Windows XP does not start, see the “Next Steps” section.

Step 4: Identify the conflicting startup program or utility

After you have turned off all third-party services, selectively turn on startup programs and utilities to try to isolate a program that may be causing the issue with your driver.

To isolate the problem, follow these steps:
  1. Click Start, and then click Run.
  2. Copy and then paste (or type) the following command in the Open box, and then press ENTER:
    msconfig
  3. Click the Startup tab.

    Because many programs might appear, we recommend that you determine the conflicting program by using the following process of elimination:
    1. Select approximately half of the listed items to turn them on, and then click OK.
    2. Restart the computer.

      Note If Windows XP does not start, restart Windows XP in safe mode.
    3. If the issue is not resolved, you know that the conflicting program is among those that you selected in step a. If the issue does not appear, the conflicting program may be among those programs that you did not select in step a. Continue to eliminate programs until you have identified the conflicting program, or until you can verify that no programs are causing the conflict.
  4. If you identify a conflicting program, we recommend that you remove the program if you are not using it. Or, configure the program so that it does not start automatically when the computer starts.

    Note You may have to contact the software vendor for information about how to do this.
If you isolated and identified the conflicting startup program or utility, you are finished. If you did not identify the conflicting program or utility, go to advanced troubleshooting step 5.

Step 5: Determine whether a third-party service is causing the issue

Note If you disable all Microsoft services and then restart the computer, you also disable the System Restore utility and you lose all system restore points. Therefore, we do not recommend disabling all Microsoft services to troubleshoot connection issues.

Disable all services in order to determine whether a third-party service is causing the issue. To do this, follow these steps:
  1. Click Start, and then click Run.
  2. Copy and then paste (or type) the following command in the Open box, and then press ENTER:
    msconfig
  3. Click the Services tab, disable all the services, and then click OK.
  4. Restart the computer.
If Windows XP starts, go to advanced troubleshooting step 6. If Windows XP does not start, see the “Next Steps” section.

Step 6: Identify the conflicting service

After you turn off services, selectively turn them on to test them and see whether you can isolate the service that may be causing the issue with your driver. To isolate the problem service, follow these steps:
  1. Click Start, and then click Run.
  2. Copy and then paste (or type) the following command in the Open box, and then press ENTER:
    msconfig
  3. Click the Services tab.
  4. Because many programs might appear, we recommend that you determine the conflicting program by using the following process of elimination:
    1. Select approximately half of the listed items to turn them on, and then click OK.
    2. Restart the computer.

      Note If Windows XP does not start, restart Windows XP in safe mode.
    3. If the issue is not resolved, you know that the conflicting service is among those that you selected in step a. If the issue does not appear, you know that the conflicting service is among those programs that you did not select in step a. Continue to eliminate services until you have identified the conflicting service, or until you can verify that no services are causing the conflict.
  5. If you identify a conflicting service, we recommend that you remove or disable that service.

    Note You may have to contact the developer of the program for information about how to do this.
If you isolated and identified the conflicting service, you are finished. If you did not, see the “Next Steps” section.

NEXT STEPS

If these methods did not help you, you might want to ask someone you know for help. You can also use the Microsoft Customer Support Services Web site to find other solutions. Some services that the Microsoft Customer Support Services Web site provides include the following:
  • Searchable Knowledge Base: Search technical support information and self-help tools for Microsoft products.
  • Solution Centers: View product-specific frequently asked questions and support highlights.
  • Other Support Options: Use the Web to ask a question, contact Microsoft Customer Support Services, or provide feedback.
If you continue to have questions after you use these Microsoft Web sites or if you cannot find a solution on the Microsoft Support Services Web site, click the following link to contact Support:
http://support.microsoft.com/contactus

More information

For more information, click the following article numbers to view the articles in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:
841567 You receive a "Cannot install this hardware" or "An error occurred during the installation" error message when you try to install a PCI device
810882 Error message: Cannot install hardware. An error occurred during the installation of the device
319908 Information about hardware device drivers for Windows XP
883259 How to install and configure Bluetooth devices in Windows XP Service Pack 2
330181 Windows XP problems with damaged or incompatible hardware
If the articles listed here do not help you resolve the problem or if you experience symptoms that differ from those that are described in this article, search the Microsoft Knowledge Base for more information. To search the Microsoft Knowledge Base, please visit the following Microsoft Web site:
http://support.microsoft.com
Then, type the text of the error message that you receive, or type a description of the problem in the Search box, and then click Search.

Properties

Article ID: 322205 - Last Review: March 4, 2013 - Revision: 10.0
Applies to
  • Microsoft Windows XP Home Edition
  • Microsoft Windows XP Professional
Keywords: 
kbresolve kbexpertisebeginner kbceip kberrmsg kbdriver kbtshoot kbhardware kbhowto kbprb kbprod2web KB322205

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