I was trying to locate a simple audio driver for a Windows XP VM I have. Basically, I’m in Linux and I want to watch Netflix but my main VM is having trouble with SilverLight for some strange reason, and rather than deal with that, I decided to use a spare VM. The movies play but I don’t have sound in that VM. I realized that the VM was an N-Lite created image, which means that most of the drivers were stripped out of it. So I decided to find the driver and install it.
This is when I started getting furious. The problem is, when you search Google for driver downloads, you will undoubtedly run into nothing but scams. This is the same for Bing and Yahoo. The entire first page of just about any driver download search will have nothing but scams. By scams I mean people trying to get you to download software that costs money, just so you can download and install FREE drivers for you hardware that you’ve already bought.
So, looking through these scams I realized that there are at least three different pieces of software everyone is trying to sell. The first one I ran into was Driver Detective. This seemed to be the most spammed software out there. Tons of fake sites with fake “Thanks” comments on them, but no true download for your driver, blanket the first page of search results. These sites don’t actually have the driver, only a download link for the DriverDetective software. Whether or not the driver detective software works isn’t even the questions. The tactics used to sell this software make it nearly impossible for even a very computer-literate person to find the driver they need.
It’s days like this that make me appreciate some of the OEMs like Dell, which make it very easy for customers to find drivers. Undoubtedly the adsense to the right of this post will have links to driver software, but that is expected, those are ads. They clearly say so. They are required to disclose what they are selling.
If you run into this problem, here’s probably the easiest way to find the correct driver for your system. Open up device manager. This is usually accomplished through the Windows Control Panel. Once there, find the problem device, with the exclamation point beside it, and right click on it. Choose “Properties”. Go to the details and look for the VEN and DEV ids. These should each be four characters long. Pull up http://pcidatabase.com on your browser. Search for those ids. You should get the manufacturer and device from that. This will at least help narrow down what driver you need. Get the drivers from the manufacturers website. Don’t even bother Googling it.