THE WINDOWS 98 DEVICE MANAGER

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Ports:

The ports entry in Device Manager refers to your COM (communication) and LPT (printer) ports in your computer. Most motherboards (main boards) installed in computers today come with two COM ports, COM "A" and COM "B" also known as COM #1 and COM #2. Your modem can be assigned to either of these two COM ports or it can be assigned to a "Virtual COM Port" created by Windows 98 (any edition). Windows 98 can create up to four of these virtual COM ports, COM #3 through COM #6. You should keep this information in mind when making a port assignment for your modem. While most people like to see their modem on either COM #1 or #2, this would effectively disable either of these ports that are part of the motherboard. These two "on-board ports" could be used for another purpose, such as communications with another device including another computer and possibly even a backup power supply that would communicate your power status or provide alert information to your computer.

Correcting port errors and problems in Windows 98 is relatively easy if you follow a few simply procedures. The most important thing to remember is to be consistent in your changes. Don't make frantic changes in settings in an effort to correct a problem. The following applies whether the error is with a COM port or an LPT port.

  • First, make sure that there are no devices connected to any of the COM or LPT ports on your computer. If you have any external devices connected, disconnect them before going any further.

  • Second, if you are reinstalling Windows 98, ask yourself whether or not the port was working properly before you began the process of reinstallation. If it wasn't, it may be a hardware problem that you are trying to resolve through software changes. If you believe it may be hardware related, contact our technical support personnel (sorry, customers only!).

  • Third, if you have made any changes at all to the motherboard's BIOS setup, especially in the ports area, check and make sure that none of the ports have been disabled. If they have been disabled, re-enable them and then reboot (restart) the computer.

  • With the above having been done, then proceed with the following:

  1. Click Start, Shutdown and then choose Restart.

  2. As the computer begins the startup process, and just before you see the "Starting Windows...." dialogue, begin taping the F8 key to bring up the Windows Start Menu.

  3. Now choose Safe Mode. You will be presented with a dialogue box advising you that you are starting in Safe Mode. Acknowledge the message and boot fully into Safe Mode.

  4. Once in Safe Mode, click Start, then select Settings then select Control Panel. Now double click the System icon. When the System Properties page is up, choose the Device Manager section.

  5. Now scroll down to the "Ports" section in Device Manager and click the "+" to expand it.

  6. Click once on each port entry and then click the "Remove" button at the lower portion of the properties page. Once you have removed all of the entries (make sure this section is indeed empty), then close Device Manager as well as all other open windows on the desktop.

  7. Now click Start, Shutdown and Restart. As Windows begins the restart process, it will find the ports and attempt to reinstall them. Presuming that there are no actual hardware problems with any of the ports, Windows will install them correctly.

As with anything involving computers, there are times when things do not go exactly as planned. If your modem is plug and play and the manufacturer has designed the on-board chip to look for COM #1 or #2 to use for the modem, this may cause a problem with either of the default COM ports.

In this case it may take a little work to force Windows 98 to reassign the modem to a virtual port, such as COM #3 etc. If this is the case, then try the following:

  1. Restart your system and go into the BIOS setup.

  2. Now disable both of the on-board (on the motherboard) COM ports. They may be listed as COM A and COM B or just COM #1 and COM #2. If you need assistance in performing this procedure, please contact Technical Support and a technician will walk you through the procedure step by step.

  3. Now save the BIOS settings and restart your computer.

  4. Go into Control Panel and double click the Modem icon. In the Modem properties page, delete the modems shown and then choose to add a modem. When asked if you want Windows 98 to search for the modem, you can accept that or choose to select one from a list and then use the modem drivers disk that we provided you in your diskette package.

  5. When Windows 98 reinstalls your modem, it will not be able to assign the modem to either COM #1 or #2 as you have disabled them, therefore it will create a virtual port assignment for the modem.

  6. Once the modem has been reinstalled, restart the system and go back into the BIOS setup and re-enable the two COM ports.

During this process, Windows should have properly loaded your two COM ports, your LPT port and, if necessary, moved the modem to a virtual port. If this has not occurred, you may want to use the technical support logon to our secure customer support section and refer to the technical support pages specific to your computer.

SCSI Controller:

Although Device Manager errors involving SCSI (Small Computer System Interface) cards do occur at times, and can be difficult to resolve, they are extremely rare. Most, if not all, of these errors depend largely upon what is attached to the SCSI card. If you are one of our customers, your computer came with either an Adaptec or Symbios SCSI card. The only exception to this are those computers that were shipped as a special package along with a Hewlett Packard flatbed scanner that relied upon a SCSI card provided by Hewlett Packard.

SCSI card device errors can occur for various reasons, although most are the result of incorrect device number (or address) assignments. Here are some of the basics to review in sorting out a SCSI problem.

  • SCSI cards (SCSI Adapters) require a default address for the card itself. This is usually SCSI address #7. Boot into the SCSI card setup and make sure this address was not somehow changed.

  • Devices connected to the SCSI Adapter are connected via a ribbon cable in what is referred to as a "chain". Early systems that we manufactured used cards that required a terminator on the last device connected in the chain. Make certain that this terminator has not been removed, or if the terminator is on a device itself, such as a drive, make certain that it has not been removed from the device.

  • Check all devices on the chain, such as hard drives, CD Rom drives, CD Rom writers and re-writers and make sure that each has been assigned a unique SCSI address other than "7", which is reserved for the SCSI Adapter itself.

  • If yours is a SCSI based system, (all drives, especially hard drives are of the SCSI type), make certain that the hard drive you are booting to (or where Windows 98 is installed) has a SCSI address of "0" (zero) and that your motherboard's bios has been set to boot to a SCSI device.

  • Make certain that all SCSI devices have had their terminators removed except for the last device in the chain, with the exception of the last device unless there is a hard terminator installed on the ribbon cable.

If, after checking all of these areas, you still have a SCSI device error, please contact our Technical Support department.

Sound Card:

All of the computer systems that we have built over the years that have a sound device (card) installed, were equipped with a Sound Blaster sound card manufactured by Creative Labs, unless the customer specified otherwise. If you are having a problem with a sound card other than a Sound Blaster, and the card was installed by us at your request, please contact Technical Support without going any further. For problems involving any of the Creative Labs sound devices, please read on.

Depending upon the year of production, our computers came equipped with any one of a number of Creative Labs Sound Blaster cards and in varying versions, such as the Sound Blaster 16, the AWE 32, the AWE 64, AWE 64 Value, AWE 64 Gold, Sound Blaster Live Value, Sound Blaster Live (all EISA cards) as well as the Sound Blaster Live Platinum (EISA and PCI) and the Sound Blaster Live PCI.

Generally, correcting sound device (card) errors in Device Manager can be handled in a couple of different ways depending on the sound device itself. As an example:

Sound Blaster 16

The Sound Blaster 16 is a relatively simple card to work with, and in Windows 95/98 the drivers for the various devices supported by this card load rather easily without user intervention. Obviously, if there something physically wrong with the sound device (card) itself, loading or reloading drivers will not make a difference. If you have a Sound Blaster 16, just open Device Manager, expand the "Sound, Video and Game Controllers" area and remove all of the entries and restart the system. 99% of the time, this will cause Windows to reload the sound devices for you without further problems.

On occasion this may not work correctly, but this is usually the result of another problem hidden beneath what you are seeing. If you are satisfied that the sound device or card is working and is not damaged in any manner, then you may need to investigate Device Manager in a little more depth. Over the years of working with the Windows 95/98 operating systems, we have noted that on occasion Windows will load multiples of the same devices in Device Manager, but when you open Device Manager in a normal session, all you may see is one entry for each device. This is referred to as the "active device" according to Windows, even though the device isn't working at all. This problem is due to multiple device entries listed in the Windows registry, (the files used by the Windows operating system to load your various devices when Windows starts).

Is there a remedy, yes there is, but not in the sense that most people expect. While there isn't really any way to prevent Windows from loading multiples of these devices, there is a way to determine if this is happening.

  1. Click Start, Shutdown and then choose Restart.

  2. As the computer begins the startup process, and just before you see the "Starting Windows...." dialogue, begin taping the F8 key to bring up the Windows Start Menu. In Windows 98, you can also hold the Control key (Ctrl) down during the restart process to bring up the same boot menu!

  3. Now choose Safe Mode. You will be presented with a dialogue box advising you that you are starting in Safe Mode. Acknowledge the message and boot fully into Safe Mode.

  4. Once in Safe Mode, click Start, then select Settings then select Control Panel. Now double click the System icon. When the System Properties page is up, choose the Device Manager section.

  5. Now scroll down to the "Sound, Video and Game Controllers" section in Device Manager and click the "+" to expand it.

  6. Click once on each entry and then click the "Remove" button at the lower portion of the properties page. Once you have removed all of the entries (make sure this section is indeed empty), then close Device Manager as well as all other open windows on the desktop.

  7. Now click Start, Shutdown and Restart. As Windows begins the restart process, it will find the sound devices and attempt to reinstall them. Presuming that there are no actual hardware problems with the sound device (card), Windows will install them correctly.

Sound Blaster AWE 32

For some unknown and largely unexplained reason, the Sound Blaster AWE 32 sound card has always been problematic during the installation process, but primarily in Windows 95. This problem doesn't seem to be computer specific or sound card specific, but rather driver related. On some computers and in certain situations, this sound card will load without difficulty and in others it can be a non-ending problem. Don't look for an easy answer, as we haven't found one! Windows 98 (all versions) does contain the most recent driver files for all versions of the Sound Blaster AWE 32 sound card.

We have found a couple of methods that, in our opinion, make this problem easier to handle. The first is to remove the sound card devices in Device Manager as noted above for the Sound Blaster 16. The second, would be to remove the device through Device Manager as noted above, but before restarting your computer, load the sound card drivers from the Creative Labs CD Rom disk that was included with your diskette packet. Once they have been loaded, Windows should automatically load the sound card devices with the appropriate drivers.

Sound Blaster AWE 64

This applies to the AWE 64, AWE 64 Gold and the AWE 64 Gold Value sound cards. This is an outstanding card for audio performance and has always been a rather easy sound device to install. However, like any other computer device, there are times when problems arise. Aside from the addition of new functions across the various models of this card, the basic functions and devices of the AWE 64 card remain alike and rely on drivers provided by Creative Labs. Again, like the Sound Blaster 16 and the AWE 32, the basic drivers for this card device are on the Windows 98 CD Rom disk and should load properly during the installation process, presuming that (A) you have verified that there are no hardware related problems (the card is not damaged) and it is secure in the slot on the motherboard, and (B) you have checked Device Manager while in Safe Mode to insure that multiple device entries are not the problem.

While the Windows 98 CD Rom does contain the basic drivers for this card, there are a number of drivers and files on the Creative Labs CD Rom disk that you may want to use to improve sound quality. For the most part, whether there is an error in Device Manager, or you just want to add the additional sound functionality to your computer, just insert the Creative Labs CD into the drive and load the drivers and files that you want. After this installation has finished, restart your computer and check it. If it doesn't perform correctly, restart it again, but this time boot into Safe Mode (see above under Sound Blaster 16 and AWE 32) and verify that there are no multiples of the same devices listed. If there are, remove all of the devices and then restart your computer and Windows will reload them correctly.

Sound Blaster Live, Live Value and Live Platinum (EISA and PCI)

The Sound Blaster Live family of sound devices (cards) come in several flavors depending upon the date of release. The earlier versions were release as an EISA card requiring an EISA motherboard slot, while later versions were release in both an EISA format as well as PCI. These cards are the top performers of the Sound Blaster line of sound devices (cards) issued by Creative Labs.

Although Windows 98 (all versions) includes base drivers for normal functionality of the Sound Blaster Live, there are a number of additional card devices that are not enabled with these basic drivers, thereby requiring that you use the Sound Blaster Live CD Rom diskette you received in your diskette packet.

For the most part during the installation process of Windows 98, the loading and installation of the basic drivers for the Sound Blaster Live will be uneventful and when you check Device Manager you will note the appropriate entries under "Sound, Video and Game Controllers". However, you may see several other devices with the common Device Manager error sign that have not been installed, or at the least, installed correctly.

Unlike the earlier Sound Blaster cards, the Sound Blaster Live series adds a new entry to Device Manager, titled "Creative Miscellaneous Devices". In this category, when installed correctly, you will find the "Creative Multimedia Emulation" as well as the "Creative SB Live! SB16 Emulation". As noted earlier, Windows 98 does not include basic drivers for either of these devices, nor does it install a category for them in Device Manager, therefore they will show up as unrecognized devices in Device Manager. We have found the following steps to be the easiest method by which to handle the installation of all of the devices and features included with this sound card:

  1. Have your Sound Blaster Live CD Rom disk handy!

  2. Open the Windows 98 Device Manager and remove all of the devices listed under the category "Sound, Video and Game Controllers".

  3. While in Device Manager, remove any other devices that are shown with the error symbol .

  4. Insert the Sound Blaster Live CD Rom disk into the drive and load the drivers for the card and choose whatever else in the software section you would like to have. Be careful as there are numerous choices and possibilities, and you will also be asked whether or not you want to load MS-DOS based drivers. If you do not intend to play "pure MS-DOS" based games, do not load the MS-DOS drivers.

  5. Once the software has loaded, you will be asked to restart your computer, please do so.

  6. Now check the Windows Device Manager again. All of the sound devices should have loaded correctly, and you should have two device categories in Device Manager, "Sound, Video and Game Controllers" and "Creative Miscellaneous Devices".

If, after having followed these sound card instructions, you still have errors relating to a sound card in the Windows Device Manager, please contact our Technical Support department and they will assist you in resolving them.

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