How to Reinstall Windows XP Drivers

By Ryan Bauer

Drivers allow your computer's hardware to communicate with the operating system. Without the right ones installed, your devices either won't function at all, or will function improperly. Thanks to Windows XP's built-in driver installer, users of all skill levels can install drivers in a couple of minutes.Before you begin, you will need to have the drivers on hand. These can be found on the installation CD that comes with most devices. If you no longer longer have that disk, you will have to download the installation software from the manufacturer's website before continuing.

Things You'll Need

  • Driver CD or downloaded drivers

Step 1

Open the Device Manager by clicking "Start," "Control Panel" and "System." Click on the "Hardware" tab and the button labeled "Device Manager." The resulting window will contain a list of all your available hardware. Locate the hardware device you are attempting to reinstall. The listing may be hidden inside other categories. Click the plus sign next to any category to pull down a list of available devices.

Step 2

Right-click on the device and select "Update Driver." This will bring up Windows XP's Hardware Update Wizard. Select "Install the software automatically," which is the default choice, and click "Next." Windows will now search your local devices to try to find compatible software drivers and will install them automatically.

Step 3

Click "Back" to return to the beginning of the wizard if Windows instead presents you with a screen saying it could not automatically find your device drivers. Select "Install from a list or specific location" instead, and click "Next." Click "Browse" and point the installer to the disk drive that contains the installation CD, or to the folder that contains the drivers you downloaded. Click "Next" and Windows will now install the drivers.

Step 4

Wait for the wizard to inform you that the process is complete. Though some items may be recognized immediately, it is a good idea to restart Windows to ensure the drivers will function properly. Once it has finished restarting, the device will be configured and ready for use.

Tips & Warnings

  • Be suspicious of websites trying to sell you drivers. These are given away free from the manufacturer, and should always be free to download.
  • When downloading drivers, make sure they are for Windows XP. Ones developed for other operating systems will not work on XP.