Device Drivers 101 : & PnP !             See Monster  XP install CD.

PnP, Plug and Play works like magic, like a kitchen toaster, but unlike a toaster, when a PC fails, PnP can be very complex.
Top sources show 27,000,000 drivers exist total.  (daunting no?, sure, and is why PnP (Plug&Play) exists in the first place ! to find one and not get the wrong one !)
PnP began with Windows 95 (forget that)
PnP can fail in automatic mode (powering on the PC it runs) or in manual methods,(device manager select bad device , right click update fails)

If driver is missing a major function inside your PC fails. (Video screens , Network, Sound, Keypads, Keyboard,Wifi, Glue logic, Camera's and and endless list of USB devices)
Drivers need to match your PC model , your PCs OS (operating system) and the chip that fails needs a correct driver to all 3 things.
Know this; some PCs even HP only their drivers work  , no one  elses ! ,after all HP designed it and built it, no HP , not Intel, etc. (in some cases, good luck running wrong drivers)

A driver is software, it's is the lowest level of software , that makes any hardware feature work. 

The top reasons for drivers failing to work , load or install are:
  1. No internet connection, (try wired CAT5 Ethernet first)
  2. Someone slammed your PC.
  3. The PC is virus infected, reload the OS (operating system) (lost your CDs back in 2006 from HP?) after 2006 the F1 HP recover works, HDD not bad.
  4. The Driver for Your OS was never ever made, no matter how many scalpers, hackers web sites claim to the contrary and sell you them and are useless and can be infected. (avoid them)
  5. Case in point you slam your PC from XP to W7 and 3 chip inside are dead in your PC, and the makers do not have W7 and drivers, period (but if lucky Vista drives can work up hill (newer)
  6. You own a HP computer and you lost the install disks or forgot to go the real and get your drivers, that worked for 10 years, just great, why not do so now.
  7. The HP site ended support (>= 10 years) So go to PCI PAGE and find th Microsoft server link there
  8. Now a HP secret, I found out (I read inf files) that some say W7 drivers,  have the XP drivers hidden inside. (so the truth here is try all drivers for all OS , shown for your exact PC model)

See my 
stinking rotten XP installer from H3LL section here. The pit falls of XP .

The best sources of drivers are HP, (I do HP only) then Microsoft and last the chip makers. (and as a last resort and safe the Monster CD driver packs)

All of the below assumes Microsoft plug and play fails with the PC connected to the internet, that means MS PnP engine fails to find what you need. (the below is all solutions to this problem.)

HP only Rules for drivers to observe:  
The first step is to ID the PC, what is it what is the model number (DV5 below) what is the P/n,  see that #ABA number that, that tells a savvy tech what options came when sold new.
Some PCs have more that 5 network chip options new.  (are you going to load all 5 from HP and pray one works?)
Same with Sound chips, Grapics (3 choices on my Elitebood) and more.

The HP service tag on the bottom of a Laptop or sides of Desktop or laptop battery well (remove the snap out battery first)
The suffex 1250us is important as is "us" usa version....  

So with this tag , you go to and get your drivers, for free.
If the PC is older than 10 years old (last year sold not first) then the Drivers are gone.
If this method above fails see what to do next, below.

The next way (PnP fails, HP has no drivers now for your 2006 PC (for example)

Rule 1: fix one dead chip at a time. (for sure if the Glue logic chip fails, say the Intel ICH9 chip, heck any ICH chip)
Rule 2 fix the most import to you first. (network tops that list after all if the network is dead how can PnP even do its job)

The clues that a chip is dead (a feature) is that it is dead, and the device manager, "DM" shows , you it is dead, red /yellow marks or "Unknown" marked and  flagged as such. Bingo on dead driver.
Unknown is the most hard to diagnose.
But first get the internet working,  make sure it works prefectly , if not find its driver and load it first. Best is to get the driver for any working on the web PC not yours if the ethernet chip is lacking it's driver.
Go to control panel (start button + CP) then go to Device Manager DM. the click Network, and click details TAB, last roll the Property tag to Hardware IDs (geek for Identification)
In this example see the VEN code 10EC (that is maker Realtek , if Intel it may be 8086) The chip is DEV_8168  this is the chips ID code. that must match a driver, write this down and go get it next.
Photo 2, DM NIC chip

Things to do next  (on other working PC best) but if not a NIC chip network your bad PC we can do this next steps.
I take my written codes above,  VEN = xxxx and DEV = zzzz
Write down xxxx and zzzz
The go here and look up my chip.

First do VEN code, xxxx (makers code) the codes are in Hexadecimal format. No not let HEX fluster you, just write it down.
Then while under venders pages, find zzzz code.
Bingo no more secrets.
Here is what you will see in this exact example. 
RTL8111/8168B PCI Express Gigabit Ethernet controller 

Armed with those 3 facts, (2 codes and real named chip)
We then go match OS to that chip. (there are 4 ways to do that)
  1. Get it at HP, sorry they ended that after 10 years of support, next.?
  2. Got to MS server now, dirctly,  here and paste in line 2 seen at Photo 2 above.  Note the 27 pages there,  you need to find your OS there, MS has many.
  3. Ok lets say MS does not have it ,nor HP what remains, well that is easy try Realtek as seen here.
  4. What if they don't have it? (fill in your chip makers name here) now what,  answer, driverpacks This is a safe site for drivers:
Why 5 ? is very hard; HP deleted the index pages to there FTP site but if you look there , you see them all there, are VAST in scope, sadly no way to learn ,what SP matches up to your chips, and OS.
If you are SAVVY and do your research, and learn your missing HP drivers, file name , SP12345.exe proper, you might find it here on this secret HP FTP  site (I'm assuming the normal HP support pages are gone)
HP FTP back door,(sorry no index after 10 year support ends, but they are all there it seems...)

What if  DEVICE MANAGER,  DM fails to show you your , device codes and only UKNOWN
There are only 3 choice here :
  1. Open the PC, eyeball your chip (names on top) or if USB read the sticker on it to see what you own.
  2. Or run sniffer3 as seen on my PCI page.. See the chip sniffer /scanner?
  3. or beg at HP for this information on there forum and tell them your full service tag data and they can tell you (if not too old a PC)
That is it on DEVICE indentification and simple fast ways to match up at least chip/driver/OS.

Next up are more radial solutions and some XP horrors, we want to forget.

OS = Operating system.
PnP is the game of matching, OS to Chips.  (It's non trivial) (know too that each chip has a PCI , scan-able  ID inside,  to support this magic)
 See the chip sniffer /scanner?(  HWinfo32.exe portable)

Smarter actions on your part. (less work?)
  • Retire the PC to the scrap yard. (Gee XP rand for  17 years, what more do you expect?)
  • If chip or card is now dead, no drivers found , buy a new card (PCIe), or replace the dead function with a new USB device, (USB LAN, USB wifi, USB Sound) for a fact you can.!
  • Don't upgrade the OS, just  run the PC till it dies? Then trash it. Even send it to N.Korea !
  • Don't up grade the OS until HP tells you to? (MS did not make your PC so never listen to MS ! after all Plug and Play failed, so, why expect MS is the cure? (internet not dead?, sure)
  • The worst is only on laptops and only the video GPU chip is now dead. (or  stuck in VGA.SYS H3LL (MS) ,  but why not go to Nvidia or AMD/ATI and get the correct drive for you PC now.  They both do old PC's well.
VGA.Sys is the HP limphome driver,  where the screen is locked up in 800x600 resolution or worse.  (beats a black screen as linux used to do , for sure!)

XP horrors can be avoided, for  sure at install time.  (I am never promoting XP at all, this is only for special or extreme needs for XP)
Horror 1, asks for a floppy? , what is a floppy?, gee I want to forget them.
Horror 2, It can't find my HDD, due to missing SATA drivers on the 2001 relic CD. (100s missing)
Do not forget you can  find a driver in MS driver server. (manually) So go to MS driver search page here and find them.
To use XP today , it is best to make a huge DVD (or USB STICK memory installer ) that is slipped streamed by you using what I call making a monster XP install disk
The Monster is built like this. (chock-a-block  full of drivers) (we do that because we have no F6 floppy  drive ! gee who does, and worse who in their right mind wants one?)|
One can in fact make huge XP DVD full of 10,000 drivers that will allow XP to self load on most PCs made for 20 years. (not the most new PCs ok?) I call this my MONSTER XP (or any OS newer)
The MONSTER IS HERE:     The reason to do this in to make a CD that say runs on all PCs 2010 to 2010.
A monster huge install disk can be made, with vast drivers at hand during the install process.
Just the WLAN pack has over 800 Inf files, and 800+ sys files and 1000 .cat files,  just for wireless only.  (an amazing find...)
Get 2 packs LAN and SATA (Ethernet and SATA)
I use only a pack I build full of SATA drivers, (vast) Just that, so the HDD works and the install completes, then later get drivers I need 1 by 1, that fail.

I use this site every time a chip maker stops support on their products:  The Great   ( !
Most times when I find a BROADCOM  chip died for the lack of a driver, I look in the driver pack to find it.  (they Broadcom, deleted them at their home download pages)  < PnP fails 1st sure.

The packs are by function (lan, wlan, video, mass-storage) and inside by vendor name first name letter or letters.  All packs pass the virustotal test.
Example1  Wlan pack.  (DP)
There is a sound chip pack seen here, search for sound.
Sound chips can be hard to cure,  dead or messed up see the posts here for such examples.

It DP only has torrent downloads (makes the servers free, dig?)

Try this top rated torrent application for windows.

No matter if you need 1 driver or want to make Monster XP DVD install disk this works.
We can make huge monster XP install disks using 1 pack all packs. Burned to DVD?  We use    (Nlite) (vast sites exist on how to use free Nlite) like here1 .    or here 2 .   or here 3.
Nlite lets you Re-Master , called slip-streaming a new MS install disk.  (the only rule is you must own a legal version of  your OS,  XP in this case.)
You can in fact add drivers to the limits of DVD volume sizes. At least to 4.7GB

I made a Nlite disk with all LAN/WLAN and mass-storage (SATA) so XP runs on most PC made. from year 2001 to even now possible.
or ?
Lets say you want  just one Ethernet port  LAN working, but is now dead, TO GET INTERNET WORKING FIRST ! (On this dead internet PC)
Find any PC with internet working to get the pack.
The down load the driverpack for LAN, seen above. to say a USB Thumb drive ,stick.
Virus total  on it  ) ( do not skip this)'

Next extract (free 7zip) this file to a folder. to  C:/mydrivers/   {or invent your own name}
Then find your matching driver there.  This can be hard if you don't know what the VEN and DEV code is, so run the sniffer first.
Read the insides of *.inf files, to see what chip/cards it supports, using VEN ? and DEV?
If you find the match, right click  the correct inf  file and pick install.
Load that driver and this  story ends, as internet is now working via Ethernet and its cable to the router.
You can then repeat all this Inf stuff, for all things dead 1 by 1 , once the LAN works, and not have to leave this PC to fetch files.


end packs. end monster install disks...

One vendor that has a very hard web site to navigate is Realtek. (but with hard work we can do it)
Other chip vendors like Broadcom do not support their old chips, they list it as OBSOLETE.

Sound and LAN are common.

I discovered at REALTEK , that they have a universal driver here,  full of support ! check it out.

Learn to that some chip ended at XP or VISTA !  a dead hard end.

The XP F6 Blunder: 
XP has this insane rule set,  the drivers must be on the Boot CD or only floppy is allowed to load the missing driver (cured in VISTA) (not even can you use a folder in ANY HDD/SSD drive full of drivers)
I have tried every trick possible to fool XP into using altnerate media in the F6 , live blunder mode. All FAIL. (just a floppy works)  Nlite is the only cure ! (lots of ways) Lacking the silly floppy drive.

There is only 2 methods here. (I have tried every way in the world to cheat there, and found ZERO easy ways) but this.
The horror of F6 is best seen here at MS.

Other magic , rabbit out of hat?:  Updates are related to Drives. So quick word on that.
One cool MS tool not for drivers but only updates,  is to run this MS program to grab updates. WUSU offline update 9.2.1.(you can watch the script run and see it get  files from  here.
WUSI snap shot photo live,  271 updates there. (ouch)  (less with SP3?)

XP Testing 123, Aug 2017:   
Microsoft shut down XP, and VISTA support.
All that remains, is Some service packs,  XP has SP3 and Vista SP2 and that ends future support forever. 
I tested a 2004 XP computer to prove MS shut down the Plug and Play servers,  the answer here end 2017 ( I used device made 2001 to 2007 the XP era as my test bed)
I ask MS, forum helpers and they confirmed this act.  (bye bye XP, and VISTA)
XP drivers at MS are either dead, missing or being shut down ,day by day more drivers are deleted from servers,  some are still there, but not many. (my tests proves this end of 2017)
See most XP horrors here. (endless it is)

The Achilles' heel of XP is SATA !,  the First XP does not suppor most SATA chips today, so install process, goes dead (F6 floppy blunder
 The SP3 service pack does add a tiny list of new SATA chips, like 1/10th in the wild.
The drivers for XP are mostly here.

This sections is how to match up PCI cards, old and new. Modern express slots are here.
You can not mix old PCI cards into modern, express slots.
You can put an express card, X1,2,4, 8 card  into a X16 slot (if the card uses only 1 channel it works in all slots it can fit, the rule equal or more channels in the slot is needed)
Watch out for trickshere,  there some cards say are 8channel and the 8channel slot on your MOBO is formed as 8 (physical) but is actually 4 channels only ,  (yes, hard to believe and  huge PITA)

A typical modern PC With 4 express slots. (express started in 2004)

Below are the vast legacy slots, (sorry ISA is dead, I will never speak ISA ever... again.) 
(I SHOW THIS OLD DATA, only because so many folks like to put old cards in new system and fail)
 PCI version#1 are  5v slots began in 1992, 26 years ago today.  V2  is 3.3v (1993)  and V2.1(1995) is dual voltgage slots.
 Do not get voltages wrong. Some mobo are not dual voltages but some cards are, so don't put 5v card in 3v only socket or the reverse. (a rule)
The best MOBO (motherboards) are  dual voltage  (or far far better are with some or all  express slots !)
The best card , is  the same. (dual voltage !)
The 5volt only cards and MOBO are getting rare today (the legacy crusher, dumpster magic does that)  avoid them trash them or upgrade is the best path on all 5volt only cards. Legacy crap.
This chart below shows how easy it is to see what slot you have (non express) and what card is in your hand , see those notches?)

Do not FORGET: 
Do not forget the PC DRIVES needs a SATA power cable too, and is not supplied in the above kit. If PSU is PATA only ATX 1 power supply.
There are 2 cables for the SATA drive, the wide one is DC power, 
The narrow one is data only, to the MOBO or CARD. ( to the DRIVE , HDD/SSD or optical media drives CD/DVD/BR)

All things stated here on XP will happen to VISTA,  due to spring 2017 shut down by MS.

Why not scrap any old XP PC (2001 PC wow)  Why not do this?  See Cheaper !
Many Old PC will never upgrade to a newer OS, that is for one reason the chips on that old PC , have no drivers for the upgrade on earth, zero driver made, mostly due to the maker is out of business, etc.

Jargon Used here:
CHIP,   means microelectronic devices , of any kind or package, and for sure   major features (as most are that) CPU/GPU/SOUND/LAN/NIC/WLAN,WIFE, MODEM,/Bluetooth, SATA and glue logic chips.
Learn that if USB ports are dead the Camera inside many Laptops go dead. (takes 2 driver to make it work)
The background on this page are Chip "DIE'S"(Dice) on  a Silicon WAFER before packaging them. (seen with a microscope)
Glue logic means that huge MOBO chip that replaces vast other chips now, unlike decades older PCs full of TTL chips,  Like the Intel, super common ICH9 (any ICH for sure ICH10) or X38 or the X99
A Chip that fails can be on the main board, the PCI-e slots or on a USB port,  knowing this fact one can disable the dead one and add a new device. (to the PCI slots or USB ports)
Each Chip needs a matching Driver, and each driver needs to match the OS, or Operating System.  (there are execeptions , using wrong drivers can work sometimes)
Mobo = Motherboard (slang used by tech.'s)

Add-in cards are PCI cards, or can be a USB device, and both will have a CHIP (in or on) to do major features. Both need a driver.  USB needs 2 drivers to work one for USB and for the new feature.

Devices to add, to replace others that are now dead for ANY reason including lost drivers ,etc.  Ethernet  first , CAT5/6 Jack on left.

Wifi dongle next.

This is an old PCI card, 3/5v rated that gives you working ethernet easy as eating apple pie,  the Express card on the right, looks near same, but have an express card slot form factor. x1 channels.

Last is for very old laptops, that have PCMCIA (now called PC-CARD) can get LAN with this.
The Slow version.

 This ends  my simple examples of add-in cards, or USB devices.  There are vast choices, of devices sold on the open market. 

My fast Diagnosis list (logical) A device fails, any device what to do ? (PCI/ USB any) In order to do !  Go to Control panel first,  then device manager.
  1. Device Manager marks it missing or bad (red or yellow , or Unknown status) you are Online and internet works, so you right click the driver and pick update driver,  pick automatically and it fails.
  2. Make sure the internet connections works or PnP will fail. Fix this first. Get the Driver from HP first , then if not there go to MS. Best is to get Ethernet working first, with wired CAT5/6 cable sold at walfart.
  3. You then wisely go to and get your missing driver, but discover to your horror, HP does not  support most PCs over 10 years old  no matter how, this fails see next line.
  4. You look for your HP official recovery media kit that has the drivers and you never bought it long ago or was lost or damaged.
  5.  HP has no support you say, but what about here. MS driver search page here and find them.
  6. Jump to here forr real  examples.
  7. Next is the Driver from the maker of the dead chip
  8. and last is from ( !

Stinking Rotten XP, how to get past each pitfall if possible at all , some are NOT Possible. (worst case and very typical) BTW Vista and for sure W7 on up are 10x better.
Please know that using the offical HP media kit avoids all this PAIN. (matched to your exact PC model, not others)
Given a PC is dead. (screen is ok, and the RTC coin cell is fresh and new or at 3vdc)
Wise is to run sniffer3 first to learn first what SATA chip is in the box,  this will save you lots of time, in most cases, here.

One liners each with jumps for logic. (truth jumps) the focus here are drivers. (I've done this 1000s of times, not one fun ,LOL) BIOS is set to boot to CD first and I hammer the space bar to get any CD to boot.
What I do is boot to my Linux demo disk and test he HDD fully.( no fun installing to  bad HDD, not at all )
  1. The BIOS shows the HDD missing, (RTC coin cell good? 3vdc?) you put your ear to the HDD side case or hatch door and you can't hear it spin, then  it is dead (sure power is on)
  2. BIOS shows HDD is there say (Seagate 2003, ST360015AS , ATA-V drive ,the first SATA in fact by the Great SEAGATE) if not ?, the drive is dead. (the linux disk test above should have told you that)
  3. Then look to see if the  F11 key works the magic HP Recovery feature may work, power on, hammer F11 and recover the OS.,oops, its gone, or the PC is older than 2006 and has no fancy feature like that.
  4. You then grab your original HP media install CD set, and boot disk one (XP installer OEM HP) (upgrade disks are no good, nor are DELL disks etc, only HP and MS work here) This always works if HDD/CD drive is ok.
  5. The installer says can't find your HDD, it is blind now, and asks for F6 key driver , You press F6 and the crazy thing asks for  Floppy drive ,a  file called  SATA driver, from some unknown maker (Promise?)
  6. A story like the movie Frankenstein., the bloody installer engine is an intractable ,and  lame;  it can't even scan the CD that is booted, up nor can I scan hdd for my E:/Driver partition I built nor can it scan any USB thumb drive.
  7. By the way this does not happen with the HP install set, HP corrected it with built in HP SATA drivers., just the generic Retail MS XP disks do this bad act. If  all is good here jump to 10 now.
  8. I then remastered my install disk (or buy a floppy drive and disk) this is called SLIP Streaming and I force my SATA drivers on to the install disk, yes, you need learn what SATA chip you have and get the XP driver first.
  9. I then boot this new disk and it boots and finds my HDD, omg magic.
  10. In any case we now are booted to a running Installer. XP HP or MS, disk.  It runs and tells me no disk found, dang, again but this time the disk is dead. its bad, dead end of life. H3LL it even fails to spin and make that sound.
  11. The HDD is now new, and the installer thinks its ok, now and formats it in phase 1 and all is good, and then does the Phase 2 install.  (this seems ok, if not the CD is bad, or HDD has deeper issues)
  12. The Install finishes, and it tells me to reboot,  be sure to remove the CD now, or you get stuck in and endless phase 1 loop. (this is caused by bugs in BIOS but is common, failed boot through El Torito logic)forget that.
  13. It now is running on the install code placed on the HDD, if this runs the HDD may be good. 
  14. One thing that can stop you here or at 11 to 13 is a bad CD, or using a bad CD-R or the disks has scratches.  We use USB ISO  installers now to do the install. (avoiding bad CD drives and bad CD media totally)
  15. Some old PCs can not boot to USB so.... test that first.
  16. Any PC that boots to USB is prime to do installs that why and is best.
 XP does not support the vast majority of SATA chip, and never will, SP3 has more added but is totally insufficeint to cover 8 years? of XP built and sold new computers.
It does not fully support SATA 1.0 to 3.3 chip, only few early chip and random picked (based on OEMs sending drivers to MS and MS testing time, a short list )
Here is a SATA chip that is supported by MS and XP if you do PnP. but PnP is dead at Install time so, you get to put it on a Floppy and F6 load it.
But no support for Promise TX2300 or the PDC20771 chip,  and vast other chips not supported at install time . What matters is what is on the CD and what is inside SP3 file.
I could make  huge list here of unsupported SATA chip but there is no reason for me to do that, all you do is run the sniffer3 and find what chip you , then put its driver on the Floppy (or slipstream it)
Any chip new (SATA) released to market after 2008 will not be located inside SP3, you will in all cases , need to find the driver, (many do not support XP at all) and force load it, to install XP. (painful yes)

Other bad acts!:
Using upgrade disks to fresh install. (fail) (you can only use Retail full install disks or OEM install disks {found as old stock}) or real HP disks, matched.
Using others disks, and there COA license code, fail you will. (one license per PC that is yours alone (on home PC's)
Using Dell disks on a HP, hopeless.
Using burned disks from hackers or sold by scalpers. (virus and malware infected they will be) can be very very painful. (always use authentic disks from HP or MS)
Using a dead or weak CD drive (test it if you can or replace it )
The memory test fails do not ignore this. (or beep codes or Caps lock LED blink codes, look them up and fix that gross error first)

Great apps or tools to find problems (free)

How to scan the PC and learn which chips are there. see the Sniffer 3 app.

version#5;  8-30-2017     revised 1-1-2018 , less on XP, it sux, and more on forcing drivers ! old to new OS.