How to Recover & Restore Windows XP Drivers

by Jennifer Claerr

If a device on your computer has stopped working properly, you might think you're experiencing a hardware failure. However, in many cases, hardware malfunction is caused by a missing or corrupt driver. Unfortunately, you can't easily download drivers for most OEM devices that came with your computer. However, Windows XP has several tools that can help you to restore your device drivers. If one of these tools doesn't work, there are other steps you can take to get your hardware working properly again.

Click Start > Control Panel > Performance and Maintenance > System. Select the "Hardware" tab. Click "Device Manager."

Select the plus sign next to the device that is causing the problem. For example, if your sound or graphics card driver is not functioning properly, select "Sound, video and game controllers." If your optical drive is the offender, select "DVD/CD-ROM drives." Right click on the problem device and select "Properties."

Click the "Driver" tab. Select "Roll Back Driver." Navigate through any additional dialogue boxes that appear, and restart your computer.

Run System Restore if the driver problem is not solved. Select Start > Control Panel > Performance and Maintenance. In the left pane, click "System Restore. Select "Restore my computer to an earlier time." Click "Next."

Select a date on the calendar when the device was functioning properly. Then select a restore point from the list in the right pane. Save your work and close any open programs. Click "Next." Your computer will now restart automatically. You will receive a notification as to whether the restore was successful when the system reboots.

Find your recovery CDs if your System Restore was unsuccessful. Back up all of your personal files on removable media such as CDs. Place the Windows recovery CD in the optical drive that you use to boot the computer. Shut your computer down, wait 30 seconds and turn it back on. Navigate through your computer's recovery CD menus to find an option for "Windows Repair." This will restore your system files and drivers to their factory configuration without deleting any of your user files. You may need to reinstall any programs that didn't come with your computer.


  • check You may also be able to download drivers from your computer manufacturer's website. If you're trying to restore the driver of an upgrade device that you installed, check with the manufacturer for an updated driver before using these steps. Ensure that Windows Update is set to download updates automatically. This will ensure that your computer gets driver updates as soon as they're available.

About the Author

Jennifer Claerr is a web writer who has written for online sites such as Demand Studios,, and She has a degree in art from the University of Texas at Arlington. She writes on a variety of topics, including holidays, health and fitness, travel, computers and art.