How to Install a Sound Device in Windows XP

By Jennifer Claerr

Once you’ve physically connected a new sound device such as a sound card in your computer, you still need to perform a few installation steps to get the operating system to recognize the new hardware. Windows XP has tools that can automatically install your new sound device. This operating system has far fewer problems with address conflicts and failure to find hardware than previous versions of Windows. However, things may still go wrong during installation of your new sound device. If you know how to use the wizards and system tools that come with Windows XP, you can troubleshoot these problems without much time and effort. They can also help you should your old sound device suddenly stop working.

Step 1

Turn your computer on after connecting the new sound device. Windows XP should automatically detect your new hardware. Run the Found New Hardware Wizard when prompted. If the wizard fails to load, click "Start," choose "Control Panel" and click "Printers and Other Hardware." Click the "Add Hardware" link in the upper-left pane. Click "Next" in the dialog box that appears.

Step 2

Click the radio button beside "Yes, I have already connected the hardware." Check the list to see if your device is there. If it isn't, select "Add a New Hardware Device." Click "Next." Select "Search for and install the hardware automatically." Click "Next" again.

Step 3

Insert the CD that came with the sound device when prompted; the CD will contain a device driver and other necessary software to run the new hardware. If Windows can't find the correct driver for the sound device on the CD, finish the Hardware Wizard and install the sound device's software manually from the CD. You should also select manual installation if other utilities besides a driver came with the CD for your sound device.

Step 4

Troubleshoot conflicts with your newly installed sound device if you experience problems. Click "Start." Right-click "My Computer" and select "Properties" from the drop-down list. Click the "Hardware" tab and select "Device Manager." Select the plus sign beside "Sound, Video and Game Controllers." Look for any devices that may be competing with your new sound device. The most likely culprit will be the sound device that came with your computer. Right-click the device in Device Manager and select "Uninstall." If it won't uninstall, select "Disable."

Tips & Warnings

  • If your sound device isn't working, right-click it in Device Manager and select "Properties." Click the "Troubleshoot" button to allow Windows XP to help you find the solution to the problem.
  • In case you are missing the CD containing the software for your sound device, hardware manufacturers often make the latest version of device drivers for their products available for download through their website.
  • Always ground yourself on an unpainted part of the computer chassis before installing upgrade devices.