By Richard Heller
By Richard Heller
In these times of massive layoffs and companies going out of business, it is important for you to keep the drivers and programs for your computer updated. Once the company has closed down their web site, it may be next to impossible to get the driver needed to operate your scanner or the driver necessary to use your word processor with your printer.
Locally, at the retail level, Bruin Electronics and Computer Renaissance have recently closed their doors. Computer Renaissance is still doing repairs, but they are no longer doing retail, while Bruin is still operating in their New York location. Profit margins on computers and peripherals are so thin and competition is so strong that companies are exiting the market weekly.
Recently, Micron announced that they are exiting from the retail computer market. We have seen over the past couple of years many big names in the computer industry stop selling at retail, among those Packard Bell and Acer. Play, Inc. The makers of Snappy, the video capture device, has just gone out of business, and many software companies have disappeared.
With all this turmoil, what can you do if you lose the driver disk that came with your device? The first thing that you can do is to try the manufacturers web site. Many companies will maintain a web site for driver downloads for a period of time after they have exited from retail. Acer is now selling computer components to other manufacturers, and Packard Bell is still selling computers in Europe.
One good source for drivers for your modem is www.56k.com. This site will supply you with the information necessary to identify who actually made your modem as well as supplying you with the correct driver or update for it.
If you are looking for drivers for other devices, an excellent source is DriverGuide (www.driverguide.com), while another source is Winfiles (www.winfiles.com). Both of these sites offer drivers and files for scanners, printers, tape drives, and other devices that may no longer be available elsewhere. DriverGuide also has the added feature that you can post a message asking other computer users whether they have a driver for a certain piece of equipment, and you can also upload drivers to their site.
If all else fails, you can always search the web or newsgroups for the driver that you need. Google (www.google.com) provides an excellent search engine when you are seeking that elusive driver for the scanner you bought at a garage sale. From their site, you can search through thousands of newsgroups or the entire web in a matter of a few seconds.
It is important to keep the drivers for your computer components up to date, especially as you update your operating system. Updated drivers will usually incorporate new features, remove bugs and cause fewer error messages, or lock-ups. You should always start with the manufacturers web site when looking for updates, but with a little looking (and luck), you can find that driver even if the company went out of business five years ago.
Richard Heller is an independent computer specialist who specializes in repairs, installation, upgrades, technical support, Internet sharing, data recovery and diagnostics. If you have any computer or service-related questions, please send them to The Rock River Times or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.