Installing an invalid device driver can prevent Windows from communicating properly with your hardware. Incorrect drivers for some hardware devices can cause an error so severe that Windows will not be able to function. When a fatal system error occurs, Windows will display a stop error commonly known as the Blue Screen of Death. Windows automatically restarts your computer on these errors, preventing you from installing the correct drivers. You can resolve this problem by loading Windows in Safe Mode. Safe Mode loads only a limited driver set for your hardware, which in most cases will allow the operating system to boot.
Turn on your computer. Press the "F8" key continuously on your keyboard until you see the "Advanced Boot Options" screen.
Press the "Arrow" keys on your keyboard to navigate to select "Windows Safe Mode," and then press the "Enter" key. Windows will start with only a limited driver set.
Press the "Windows" and "R" keys simultaneously on your keyboard. This displays a "Run" box on your screen.
Type "Devmgmt.msc" in the "Run" box and click the "OK" button. This opens the Windows Device Manager component.
Right-click the hardware device you are having a problem with and then click "Uninstall." If a device has a problem, it may be indicated with a symbol next to it in the device manager. A black exclamation point inside a yellow circle means the device has a problem but may still function. A red "X" means that the device is disabled. Some problematic devices may be listed as "Unknown Device." If you do not see any symbols or "unknown device" entries, your best course of action is to uninstall the last driver you installed.
Click "OK" on the confirmation screen. The device driver will automatically uninstall. Restart your computer when Windows has completed uninstalling the driver.
- Microsoft Windows: Start Your Computer in Safe Mode
- Microsoft Windows: Which Drivers Get Loaded in Safe Mode?
- Microsoft Support: How to Troubleshoot the Video Adapter Driver in Safe Mode in Windows XP
- Microsoft Support: How to Troubleshoot Hardware and Software Driver Problems in Windows XP
- Microsoft TechNet: Troubleshooting Tools and Strategies
- Microsoft Windows: Diagnostic Tools to Use in Safe Mode
- Photo Credit Suza Scalora/Photodisc/Getty Images
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