Windows 7 : Installing and Removing Hardware (part 6) - Removing Hardware, Updating Drivers, Dealing with Devices that Prevent Windows 7 from Starting

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5. Removing Hardware

Hot-pluggable devices don't follow the type of removal discussed in this section. To remove a USB or FireWire device, or a PC card or memory card. This section is about removing more complex devices like internal components. Before you follow the procedures described in this section, make sure you understand what you're removing and why you're removing it. Do not attempt to fix some problem by removing devices through sheer guesswork.

You'll need administrative privileges to perform the tasks described here. It might be best to sign into a user account before you get started so you don't have to rely on privilege escalation along the way.

Before you physically remove a device from the system, first uninstall it through Device Manager by following these steps:

  1. Click the Start button, right-click Computer, and choose Manage, then click Device Manager in the left pane to open Device Manager.

  2. Expand the category in which the device is listed. Then right-click the name of the device you intend to remove and choose Uninstall, as in Figure 17.

  3. Click OK.

Figure 17. Uninstall a hardware device.

Now you need to shut down the computer, unplug the power cord, and physically remove the device from the system. Then plug the machine back in, start it up, and everything should be back to the way it was before you ever installed the device. If you set a protection point just before installing the hardware, you can return to that protection point just to make sure.

6. Updating Drivers

The quickest and easiest way to get an updated driver for a device is usually to search for it online by following these steps:

  1. Open Device Manager .

  2. Right-click the device that needs an updated driver and choose Update Driver Software as in Figure 18.

  3. Click Search Automatically for Updated Driver Software and follow the on-screen instructions.

Figure 18. Update a device driver.

Often, that's all it takes. You might need to restart the computer after the driver installation is complete.

If that method doesn't work, you may have to go to the product manufacturer's Web site and search for a Windows 7 driver there. If you find the driver, make sure to follow the manufacturer's instructions carefully to download and install the updated driver. If you can't find a driver specifically for Windows 7, but you do find one for Windows Vista, that driver should work.

7. Dealing with Devices that Prevent Windows 7 from Starting

There may be times when a newly installed hardware device prevents Windows 7 from starting properly. In most cases, such devices will be disabled automatically so that Windows 7 can start. If it works that way, you can typically follow the steps described in the preceding section to try and get the updated driver online.

If Windows 7 cannot disable or work with the new device, you may be able to start in Safe Mode and either get updated drivers there, or disable the device manually. Here are the steps:

  1. Close all open programs and documents and save any work in progress.

  2. Restart the computer (click the arrow next to the Power button and choose Restart).

  3. As the computer is restarting, press the F8 key a few times right after completion of the POST (Power On Self Test).

    If your keyboard has a Function Lock (F Lock) key, keep an eye on it during the reboot process. If it turns off at any time, be sure to turn it back on before pressing F8.

  4. When the Advanced Boot Options appear, choose Safe Mode with Networking.

  5. Log in to the Administrator account.

When you're at the desktop, follow the procedure described under "Updating Drivers" to search for updated drivers. If you cannot find updated drivers, your best bet might be to disable the device by right-clicking its name and choosing Disable from the shortcut menu. Close Device Manager and restart the computer again normally.

If you had to disable the device, it won't work when you restart the computer normally. But at least you can get Windows 7 started and try to find an updated driver through the product manufacturer's Web site.

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