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Sound Drivers, Sound Card Drivers, and Audio Drivers
Most computers come with sound card drivers pre-installed at the factory though bargain computers may not have the best sound card drivers on the market.
Whether you want to replace your existing sound card or install a new one, you will need to also install a sound driver at the same time. Another instance where you might need to add a sound driver is if your current sound card starts acting up.
Sound Card Drivers
When installing a new sound card, the sound driver comes on an installation disc that comes with the actual card. This is usually part of the sound driver setup program and a simple matter of following the on-screen prompts. After installing the sound card and the sound driver, your computer should recognize the card and begin playing sound as designed.
If the sound card doesn’t give the expected results or if it stops functioning later, you may need to update the sound driver. Failing sound cards could have a legitimate hardware problem but often the failure is related to the sound driver rather than a physical issue with the board.
Sound drivers are small programs that tell the operating system what type of sound card is installed, its features, and how to communicate with it properly. All computer files can get damaged by a variety of outside forces including computer viruses, spyware, file corruption, system crashes, errors, unexpected shutdowns, power surges, and accidental deletion. Even installing a new piece of hardware or un-installing a software application can adversely affect the sound driver files.
When sound driver files become corrupt or disappear, the computer no longer understands what’s installed and how to work with it. End result: the sound card stops functioning. By restoring the sound driver, the computer once again recognizes the device and the sound card begins working again.
Restore Sound Drivers
You can restore the sound driver using a couple of different techniques. If you have either Windows XP or Windows Vista, you can use the System Restore utility to restore the computer’s system files and drivers to a previous state. This option only affects system files, not data files or applications. To use System Restore, go to the Start button, All Programs, Accessories, System Tools, and pick System Restore. Choose a restore point using a date when your system was working properly. You will need to reboot the computer as part of the process.
Sound Driver Installation Disc
If you still have the installation disc that came with the hardware, reinstalling the sound driver from the disc is always an option. This will replace any missing or damaged files with fresh copies. However, if the installation disc is fairly old, you may be better off getting updated drivers from the sound card manufacturer’s website because new drivers most likely have corrected known issues with the sound card and could possibly even enhance the features. For example, what if your sound card always fails whenever try to listen to music using QuickTime? It could be a conflict between the two applications that may be resolved with a sound driver update. By using an updated version of the sound driver, you’ll save yourself the headache of troubleshooting errors that have already been addressed and corrected.
Updating Sound Drivers
When looking for the updated driver, make sure to pick the one that is designed specifically for both your sound card as well as your operating system. Installing the wrong driver won’t work as most sound drivers are specific to the device and the operating system.
Once you’ve located the updated sound driver, you’ll need to install it. If the file is a self-extracting executable file, follow the instructions as prompted by the installation program. If not, use Device Manager to update the driver. First, note the location where the new sound driver is stored such as C:\desktop
Device Manager and Sound Drivers
- Now, open Device Manager by going to the Control Panel, System, Device Manager.
- Expand the Sound, Video, and Game Controllers category and double-click your sound card in the list below.
- Click on the tab that says “Driver.”
- Choose Update Driver and then Browse My Computer. Search your computer for the file you just download. For example, if you saved it to C:\desktop, point to that location and choose the file.
- Follow the prompts as the update takes place.
- Reboot your PC.