Recently, subscriber Louis wrote with a problem. He has an older Dell desktop computer that originally ran Windows 98. It was upgraded to Windows XP Professional some time back; now he wants to reinstall Windows XP and is concerned about finding drivers…
I have a "Dell Optiplex GX-110" desktop and it originally had "Windows 98" before someone gave to me. But by the time I got it then it was already somehow upgraded to "XP Professional" as it now has.
I was told to reinstall this "XP Professional" as there are some glitches in the present one but although I have a disc I may have a problem with finding drivers and drives for it. Are there any types of compatible and/or generic ones should I not find what I need on a Dell website?
I would think that as it originally had "Windows 98" then upgraded to "XP Professional" that I should be able to reinstall it again. The “Express Service Code #xxxxxxxxxx/Service Tag#xxxxxxx so maybe you can look up this for me to see what I need to do. I was informed that you may be able to be of help to me about this kind of thing. Thanks, Louis
I wrote back to Louis to tell him that he’d identified the major issue — drivers. There’s another issue, too, depending on the type of Windows XP CDROM he has. If he has a full version of Windows XP or has the OEM Dell Windows XP Professional CDROM, then he should be ok. However, if he has a Windows XP Upgrade CDROM, then if he tries to do a clean install of Windows XP Professional, it’s going to require him to insert a qualifying CD for the "upgrade." He didn’t mention if he had the old Windows 98 CDROM or what type Windows XP Professional CDROM he had.
One of the issues with drivers is that the person who gave it to him may have installed other hardware, too, not just Windows XP Professional. For example, he may have a different video card than came with it originally, or a different network card, or a different modem card. Note that each of these may be built into the motherboard as opposed to being cards.
I suggested that he download Belarc Advisor (www.belarc.com), which can identify much of his hardware or critical aspects of it (e.g., the video chip used in the video card). That should give you some guidance when you look at the drivers that Dell has. For example, if Belarc Advisor tells him that he has an ATI video chip, but Dell’s site has Nvidia drivers, the Dell drivers won’t work because the video card has changed.
I looked quickly at the Dell site at http://support.dell.com with the Service Tag number he provided. When I selected downloads and drivers, and entered the service tag, it showed me a number of downloads including network card and video.
NUMBER 1 IMPORTANCE — THE NETWORK CARD DRIVER. If the Windows built-in driver doesn’t work (which it often DOES during installation but DOES NOT once you reboot to your installed Windows), your network connection won’t work. This driver should be one of the first you install after installing Windows XP.
On video drivers, there are a number of drivers available for his computer. Apparently Dell changed video cards at some point or offered multiple different cards (which they often do). He’ll need to know which type you have in your computer. If he can’t tell from the Belarc Advisor report, he’ll have to open the computer to find out.