Ed VanHoose is the Digital Communications Administrator/IT Manager for the Association of Illinois Electric Cooperatives
Once again, this month’s Powered Up focuses on answering more reader questions. I must apologize for not being able to answer all of them. I do try to get to questions asked by more than one person, and I also look for those questions that may be out of the ordinary. Keep the questions coming! If I answer you, I will e-mail you in advance of the publication as well. That way, you have help without waiting to see it in print. Ok! On with the show!
Bill from Clinton County Electric Cooperative asks, “I am hoping that you may be able to shed some light on the reason why I cannot open the Windows Security Center. It was working but all of a sudden it tells me that it cannot be opened.”
Bill, that’s a tough one! There are just so many possibilities. However, I’m going to make an educated guess and say you have an Intel motherboard with onboard audio. If that’s the case, then more than likely you’re having a conflict with the audio driver. There are a couple of ways to fix that. You can either circumvent the problem or you can download the newest audio driver from Intel’s website, install it and the problem should go away.
Ok, so let’s first figure out what a driver actually is. Drivers are bits of software that act as go-betweens with your hardware (in this case, a sound card built onto your motherboard) and your operating system. Without the driver your operating system wouldn’t know what to do with all of the pieces of hardware inside the computer.
I will say that Microsoft has gotten better at detecting what type of hardware you have, and providing at least a generic version of the driver to run that hardware. In most cases, with a modern operating system on a computer connected to the Internet, you’ll find that Windows will search for, find and install a driver that can get you up and running without the need to go looking for anything special. There are times, of course, where you have to be a little more proactive, or where you have a conflict that needs to be resolved. In that case, it is very often beneficial to reinstall the driver offered by the manufacturer of your device.
But how do you know which driver to use? In fact, how do you even know what motherboard you have in your computer, or what audio it has on it?
There are a myriad of ways. You could actually crack open the case, locate the audio chip on the motherboard and then find the model number on it. Or you could simply download one of several free programs that will examine your system for you and give you a report of what you have. You could also use a program called DirectX that you most likely already have installed to give you some basic information. You might also get lucky and let the manufacturer of the product search your computer and tell you what drivers you need to update.
Here’s a site that lists several different programs that will help you identify your hardware: computerhope.com/issues/ch000017.htm
If you want to use DirectX, then click Start, Run and then type in dxdiag. That will start a diagnostic of your system and provide you with some helpful results in tabbed format.
After you’ve identified your hardware, then it’s time to go online and find an updated driver. For this discussion, we’re talking about an Intel audio driver. But, keep in mind that this works for just about any other driver you need. You identify the part, go to the manufacturer website and then download the correct driver – in this case downloadcenter.intel.com.
As you can see from the screenshot of Intel’s website, there is a handy button that says, “Run Intel driver update utility.” I bet if you run that utility, you’ll find it will find and fix your problem.
It may even find and recommend other updates for you.
Hopefully, this gets you well on your way. Remember though, not all problems are easily fixed. I encourage you to try, but if you feel like you’re getting in over your head, seek out your nearest professional IT person. Their expertise is well worth the investment.
Everybody has technical issues. Some are interesting. Some aren’t. If you have an interesting technical problem that you want answered in a future edition of Powered Up, please drop me an e-mail. (I might even answer some of the uninteresting ones too.)
Ed VanHoose is the Digital Communications Administrator/IT Manager for the Association of Illinois Electric Cooperatives in Springfield. He is a specialist in the IT field with over 12 years of experience working in leadership roles for technology based projects in Illinois and Missouri.