Windows XP Lost Mouse Driver & Keyboard Problems

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Windows XP Lost Mouse Driver & Keyboard Problems
(Image by Flickr.com, courtesy of Chris Metcalf)

One thing that improved with the release of Windows XP (from Windows ME) was driver support. Hardware devices often start working almost immediately after being plugged in. XP works in the background to quickly find and install the necessary drivers. Issues still arise, unfortunately, that will have you searching to find your own drivers.

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The Facts

Drivers are generally installed when the operating system is installed. When hardware issues arise, a quick fix is to navigate to the device manager and uninstall the device. XP will restart, while reinstalling the device and the drivers. However, not all mouse and keyboard drivers are included with Windows XP. This means that once you click "remove" or "uninstall," the drivers are deleted for good. XP doesn't have a backup stored somewhere and your mouse or keyboard stops functioning.

Function

Drivers are necessary for every piece of hardware that connects to your PC. XP will have the drivers pre-installed for many devices, but some will have to be installed from the installation disk. Without the proper drivers, Windows XP will not know how to communicate with the device.

Types

Older mice and keyboards tend to have a ps/2 connection for plugging into the serial port. XP can use these; it is usually the USB types that need the drivers to work properly.

Identification

One way to tell a mouse or keyboard has corrupted or missing drivers is that they will simply stop working. Or, they may work briefly before the operating system starts and then cause everything to freeze. Also, if the mouse or keyboard uses special functions that no longer work, drivers are the cause. If they do have USB connections, be sure to test other USB devices, also.

Solutions

Locate the original disk that came with the keyboard and mouse. Install the drivers for Windows XP and test each device for functionality. If you are unable to find the disk, try searching the manufacturer's website for the drivers you need. You can also e-mail or call their tech support for help locating the drivers.

If the drivers are corrupted, it may not help to simply install the updated drivers. The old ones should be removed by going to "Control Panel" and "Add or Remove Programs." If there are errors, try booting into safe mode, (Tap the F8 key before XP loads) and uninstalling from there. The devices may begin functioning using only the generic drivers.

Keep in mind that if the mouse and keyboard are USB, it may be the USB ports or Hub causing the issue. Plug in other USB devices to see if they work. These, and other important drivers, can be installed with Service Pack 2. Run Windows Update or go to Microsoft Support to download the standalone executable.

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