With some 60 odd days remaining between now and the official retirement of Windows XP, there is no shortage of people that are upgrading to a newer version of the operating system, be it Windows 7 or the newly released Windows 8.1.
While Microsoft may be pleased to see the migration happening, hardware manufacturers are only happy to see users replace their devices and peripherals — regularly.
It’s great to spend money and buy the fastest hardware, every time. But it is not always worth the expense, particularly when it comes to accessories and peripherals that still work and work well. Here are some considerations to keep in mind when using old hardware with new software.
Check Compatibility with Windows
Theoretically most of your hardware should work with the newer versions of Windows, including Windows 8.1. All you need are compatible drivers. This is where you get no guarantees. While most manufactures have released newer drivers, some are yet to do so for their really old devices.
Luckily Microsoft provides a handy resources, the ‘See what works’ page on Windows Compatibility Center that checks which devices work with its latest operating systems. You get the ability to search by product name, or even get it to scan your computer looking for the connected hardware.
The page for Windows 8.1 is here. And if you are upgrading for Windows XP to Windows 7, you can check the compatibility of your hardware here at this link.
Keeping It Official
Now, the downright best way to find new drivers for your hardware devices and peripherals is to look for it on the support section on the manufacturer’s website — you can’t do better. All you need to know is the exact model of the device. And this important.
It is easy to search for and download drivers for similar hardware, with just a letter or two different in the model number. Sometimes it may work, but it could also lead to problems and crashes.
So be nimble and be quick and make sure you only download the driver for your exact model.
If you are having trouble locating the driver for your device on the official website, for one reason or another, you can also try searching for them on the Drivers section on Download.com. It offers drivers for no less than 77,713 products at the time of this writing — a lot.
The only problem is that most of these drivers are for newer hardware.
And while there are websites that promise free driver downloads, you have to be really careful here. Many of these are dodgy dealers that try to load malware on your computes. It is not all that hard to trick unsuspecting users searching for a simple driver into downloading malware.
Some even have fake download buttons that lead users to adverts and sponsor pages. Take extra care here, and only download from reputable software sites.
A whole bunch of driver managers have popped up these past few years. These applications scan your PC looking for old, outdated or missing drivers and then provide direct links to the newest versions. Examples of such software? Driver Booster from IObit and Uniblue DriverScanner.
If you go this route, just make sure you choose the custom install option whenever presented the choice, and decline any unwanted changes or bundled software — no point in bloating your system with extra software you will not use. Just stick to the drivers.
One Last Thing
Now obviously, your old scanner or faithful printer that works fine with Windows XP may not play nicely with Windows 8.1. But if the version of Windows you chose does not recognize them, and you are having trouble finding appropriate drivers, then there is one last thing that you might want to try.
And this is worth a try on really old scanners and printers.
You can buy a USB Converter Cable for that let you plug in your scanner or printer into your computer’s USB port. Old hardware (particularly those from the late 90s and early 2000s) often make use of old ports, but a converter may just do the trick.
These roll for around $5 a pop, and if all else fails, it is not the worst idea in the world to try before you splash the cash for a new scanner or printer.