Tech – for Everyone

Tech Tips and Tricks & Advice – written in plain English.

Adding a device, when Plug and Play doesn’t work, Pt. 1

Windows introduced a method for automatically detecting and installing (configuring) newly attached devices in Windows 95, which it called “Plug and Play” (PnP). The idea was that you could insert a relatively new super-enhancer like a graphics card, or sound card, ([there was a big deal called “multimedia” happening then, if you recall: “The new Pentium II, with MMX!”]) into a slot inside your machine and Windows would automatically make it work. This worked so well that folks quickly re-dubbed it “Plug and Pray”.
(For the sake of fairness, and for those of you with a historical sense, it is my belief that the responsibility for the bad name PnP acquired lies at the feet of the card makers, particularly Creative Labs Sound Blaster cards, as much as it did Microsoft.)
Before Plug and Play came along, adding a new device to your PC was a huge ordeal. There were tiny switches (called “dips”) and little wire bridges (“jumpers”) and IRQs and such that had to be fiddled with in an agonizing series of trial-and-error attempts that would try the patience of the most stalwart soul.

Fortunately for all of us, Windows and device manufacturers have been (for the most part) working hard to make the concept behind PnP a reality. Each successive iteration of Windows has become better and better at easy, automatic, device installation. By the time of Windows XP, it was a rare occasion when Plug and Play required additional efforts on our part before our new scanner/webcam/printer/graphics card/etc. would function as it should.
With Vista we have a whole new set of issues. PnP works almost exactly as it should, effortlessly. As long as we’re adding a brand-new, Vista compatible device, all you have to do is plug it in and power it on. The problem we have in Vista is with our old devices — devices manufactured before Vista was a gleam in Microsoft’s eye — like that old, reliable Deskjet 970Cse.

Tip of the day: Get those recalcitrant devices working, Pt.1. The first step in installing a new device is to follow the instructions that come with it, and (usually) inserting the Installation CD, and letting Plug and Play ‘do its thing’. Frequently this is all you need to do (although you may be asked to reboot). The first troubleshooting step, should this fail, or should Vista reject the device, is to go online and visit the device manufacurer’s website. There you should look in their “Support” section for “Drivers” and/or “download drivers”. Find the most recent release for your version of Windows (Vista users may have to do a Web Search) and take careful note of whether it is the 32-bit, or 64-bit version. Almost all of you out there want the 32-bit version. [If you are unsure whether you have 32 or 64-bit Windows: right-click My Computer and select Properties. The info titled “System” will tell you your version.]
Now click on the download link, and when asked if you want to “run” or “save” this program, click on “Save”. You will be (or at least, should be) asked where you want to save the program to, and since it will most likely have a bizarre and forgettable name, save it to your desktop. Once the download is completed and saved, close your webbrowser and any other programs you have running — it shouldn’t be neccessary to shut down your protection, like antivirus, but be prepared to hit “allow”, quickly. Now double-click the download. Usually, a wizard will open, asking you to hit “Next”, “I agree”, “Next”…just follow along.

When it’s done, odds are good your device will now work as it should, but whether it does or not, the next step is to restart your machine (“reboot”). This process will resolve the majority of, but not all, device related issues. Vista users may run into a situation where the device in question is no longer “supported” by the manufacturer, or simply hasn’t gotten around to writing Vista drivers yet. A Search for “Vista drivers for make model” will likely turn up a solution.

There are further troubleshooting steps you can take if this does not resolve your issue. I will cover some of these in tomorrow’s post. There are websites that specialize in nothing but device drivers, and these are often an excellent place to start looking for hard-to-find drivers. I am including one such site below.

Today’s free link: DriversPlanet From site: “ is the Web’s trusted resource for technology enthusiasts, IT consultants and IT professionals searching for any device driver. provides an easy way of finding drivers in one spot enabling you not to get lost in worldwide chaos of drivers.”

Copyright © 2007 Tech Paul. All rights reserved.

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July 11, 2007 Posted by | add device, advice, computers, device drivers, how to, PC, Plug and Play, tech, Vista, Windows, XP | Leave a comment