Common problems caused by installing wrong drivers

It is widely known that wrong drivers cause many problems. Unfortunately, many users don't care until they get these problems themselves, and there's no easy way of solving them. To avoid this situation, we provide a list of commonly encountered problems with wrong drivers.

  • Wrong model number.
    This is most common mistake users encounter. Even IT professionals install wrong drivers occasionally, as it is easy to miss one number or letter in the model string. Installing driver for other device model that you own may or may not make you problems. Sometimes 'neighbor' models differ by non-consistent details like body/case color or extra accessories. In this case, there's no problem whatsoever, and you may not even notice that you installed wrong drivers. But some models, even though having similarly-looking model numbers, may have different technologies incorporated. This is especially significant for motherboards. Each motherboard model has its own number of ports, connectors, I/O channels, and other components. If wrong drivers are installed, Windows may not recognize some devices, even if they are connected correctly. If wrong drivers for processor chipset are provided, the system may think that your processor is faster than it is, and load it with so fast working schedule that it will eventually overheat and get serious damage. To avoid these problems, we recommend double checking device model numbers. If you don't know which model you have, call tech specialist or use software that detects hardware automatically.
  • Wrong operating system. In theory, Microsoft exercises backward compatibility. This means that older software and drivers can run on newer systems. For example, Windows XP drivers are theoretically compatible with Windows 7. In practice, this is rather false than true. If Windows encounters an old driver, it creates legacy environment for it, to make the hardware 'think' that it's working on older Windows version. This environment takes up memory and processor time, and all commands from device to Windows must be 'translated' back and forth, which all slows down performance. Some drivers just cannot work in compatibility mode, especially on security devices.
  • 32-bit and 64-bit. This is common variation of previous problem. On 64-bit systems, all 32-bit drivers are run in legacy environment, slowing down your system. That's why you should avoid using 32-bit drivers on 64-bit system whenever possible. Some old drivers are totally incompatible with new platform, and can seriously damage your computer, causing data loss and even hardware failures. Also never try to install 64-bit drivers on 32-bit systems. This is guaranteed Windows killer.
  • Too new driver for too old device. Yes, this happens. Many sound and video cards have unified driver packages that can be installed on wide variety of models. And updates come for all models supported by this driver set. As technology advances, programmers concentrate on writing drivers for new devices, leaving old device support 'for just in case'. If you have some five years old sound or video card, you may notice that after recent driver update your device works improperly. This may happen especially in these cases when you have old and CHEAP device. So what's the problem? The problem is that new driver is solely made on technology used in newest models only. While old models are theoretically supported, their hardware restrictions prevent them from running that new technology. The device is simply overloaded by new and strange commands and can't work properly. In many cases, reverting to old drivers will save your day. That's why it's important to keep backup copies of old drivers.