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DRIVER TROUBLESHOOTING

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Drivers do not always install correctly. Remove that device. Then reinstall the device AND rebuild the Driver Information database.

When you install, or update, a driver for a specific hardware device, the device may not function correctly.

If you try to install the driver for the device again, the device may still not function correctly.

This page shows how to deal with these situations.

THE PROBLEM

The device may be using incorrect INF file(s)

When a device is installed, its .inf file is used to install that device. The inf file is placed in the \Windows\Inf directory. Windows needs to determine the location of that .inf file, so a pointer to it is placed in the Driver Information database or Hardware Information database (these are the Drvdata.bin and Drvidx.bin files, also in the Inf directory).

When a driver is updated, or changed, its database pointer is changed to point to the new .inf.

All this looks neat, tidy, and reliable. However, there is no check to determine if mismatched files were installed during the driver installation - and that does happen on occasion.

To cure this situation, you remove the device, and rebuild the database:
1. Ensure you have the original installation floppy or CD-ROM for the device that you want to remove because you may be prompted for it when Windows restarts.
2. Enter Safe mode and fully Remove that device using Device Manager. Select No when prompted to reboot, i.e. stay in Safe mode.
Now you rebuild the database (Driver Information, or Hardware Information, database):
3. Rename Drvdata.bin and Drvidx.bin files in the \Windows\Inf directory
4. Now reboot normally

Windows will prompt you to install the default driver for the device. You may also be prompted to insert a disk for the device. If the driver that you want to install is different than the default driver, you can choose the driver that you want to install.

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DOUBLE DRIVER INSTALLATION

Speed Problem In Devices

Sometimes Windows will install the same device driver more than once for a single device. This is most common with Windows 95, but can occur with any Win9x. Slowing can result.

Right-click My Computer, then click Properties > Device Manager
Open each device in turn and see if any are installed more than once. If so, Remove the extra device. In some cases it is better to fully Remove all instances of that device and Reboot/reinstall it - just be SURE you how to reinstall it and have the correct driver (if it does not normally install successfully via Plug & Play).

If in any doubt, then FIRST Disable it in Hardware Usage, and run your system for a period. THEN Remove it when satisfied it is not required.

Don't forget to look in Other Devices. A non P&P device may end up there on its first installation. On a second installation of that device (Windows now has the driver in its files), it is likely to show up elsewhere in Device Manager - the first can now be Removed.

Caution:
1 Sometimes the same driver IS CORRECTLY USED MORE THAN ONCE e.g. two, or more, Hard Drives. Obviously you DO NOT remove this kind of duplication.
2 Do not remove anything from the System Devices section.

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FROM MICROSOFT

What Microsoft says about faulty driver installations

The remainder of this page is taken directly from the Microsoft's:


Troubleshooting Device Driver Issues by Using the Driver Information Database

The information in this article applies to:

  • Microsoft Windows Millennium Edition
  • Microsoft Windows 98 Second Edition
  • Microsoft Windows 98
  • Microsoft Windows 95

SUMMARY

This article describes the process that Windows Millennium Edition (Me), Windows 98 Second Edition, Windows 98, and Windows 95 use to handle hardware devices and those devices' drivers, and also describes how to troubleshoot the installation or re-installation of device drivers.

For example, when you install or update a driver for a specific hardware device, the device may not function correctly. If you try to install the driver for the device again, the device may still not function correctly. This article describes what occurs when you install a device, and also describes how to re-install the device driver after a failed installation attempt by rebuilding the Driver Information or Hardware Information databases.

MORE INFORMATION

When you install a hardware device on your computer, the device passes information through the basic input/output system (BIOS) to the operating system (Windows). Windows then determines which driver Information (.inf) file to use to install the driver for the device, and Windows determines the location of that .inf file. This process (bus enumeration) is the first step in identifying the device; the operating system is notified through the BIOS that a device is attached and is using a particular bus.

Windows then checks the registry to determine if that particular bus has an enumeration key and if the enumeration key matches the hardware identifier that the device supplied through the BIOS. If the enumeration key exists, the information is then used to install the appropriate driver for the device. If there is no enumeration key, Windows adds the key to the registry with the proper enumeration information (the hardware identifier, the hardware guide, and the driver/inf information), which was supplied by the device hardware through the BIOS.

When additional drivers are installed for the device by either changing or updating the driver, additional subkeys are added in the registry under that bus enumerator for that device.

NOTE: To view the history of the drivers that have been installed for a particular device, use the Microsoft System Information utility:

  1. Start the Microsoft System Information utility; click Start, point to Programs, point to Accessories, point to System Tools, and then click System Information.


  2. To view the drivers' history, double-click Components, and then click History.

In Windows 95, Windows 98, and Windows 98 Second Edition, the Driver Information database contains all of the drivers that are listed under the enumerator for that device's bus. In Windows Me, the same data is in the Hardware Information database. These databases are comprised of the Drvdata.bin and Drvidx.bin files and are located in the Windir\Inf folder.

When drivers are updated or changed, a pointer in the Driver Information database or Hardware Information database is changed; however, there is no check to determine if mismatched files were installed during the driver installation. To work around this issue, you can rebuild the Driver Information database or Hardware Information database to eliminate any pointers that may cause mismatched files to be installed.

NOTE: Before you perform the following steps, ensure that you have the original installation media (diskettes or CD-ROM) for the devices that you want to remove because you may be prompted for the installation media when Windows restarts.

Before you rebuild the Driver Information or Hardware Information database:

  1. Start Windows in Safe mode.


  2. Click Start, point to Settings, click Control Panel, and then double-click System.


  3. Click the Device Manager tab, remove all of the instances of the device in question from the device tree, and then click Close. If you are prompted to restart your computer, click No.

To rebuild the Driver Information or Hardware Information database:

  1. Rename the Drvdata.bin and Drvidx.bin files.


    1. Click Start, point to Find, and then click Files Or Folders.


    2. In the Named box, type drvdata.bin, and then click Find Now.


    3. Right-click the Drvdata.bin file, click Rename, type a new name for the Drvdata.bin file (for example, Drvdata.xxx), and then press the ENTER key.


    4. Repeat steps a through c for the Drvidx.bin file, and then quit the Find tool.


  2. Restart your computer normally.

After you restart your computer in normal mode, you are notified that Windows is building the Driver Information database or the Hardware Information database. Your Plug and Play devices are detected again, those devices' busses are enumerated again, and then Windows receives the device information through the BIOS and prompts you to install the default driver for the device. You may also be prompted to insert a disk for the device. If the driver that you want to install is different than the default driver, you can choose the driver that you want to install.

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Please remember that you alone are responsible for the consequences of any changes you make to your computer hardware or software.

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