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Issue #649: Dec 29, 2019 – Jan 4, 2020

Q: I am running Windows 10, via download when forced off Windows 7, on Dell laptop.  Using your guidance from a prior column, I have determined that my Renesas 3.0 USB disappears at irregular intervals. (checking ‘Properties’ in Device Manager shows ‘This device not installed’). The consequence being that two of my three USB ports go dead. Following your advice from the earlier column, I ‘uninstall’ it, then restart the computer. This reboot activates all three USB ports (for a time).

 I am suspicious that my root problem may be that my system is 64-bit, and the Renesas driver is 32-bit. Properties->Driver files shows: C:\WINDOWS\system32\DRIVERS\UMDF\UsbXhciCompanion.dll & C:\Win..\sys…32\dr…\USBXHCI.SYS

 I can’t find ‘safe’ info on how to remove these drivers and install 64 bit drivers.  Your guidance would be appreciated.

 – Mike B.
Fort Walton Beach, Florida

A: I’m not so sure I agree with you that this is a driver issue Mike. Nevertheless, I can give you some advice on how to change drivers. Generally (that means not in every conceivable case) drivers install themselves, and you don’t need to worry about the process being “safe”. There are instances where your opinion differs from that of Windows on what is the “best” driver to install, and in those cases, you may want to force an override, and install the one you see fit.

The first thing you need to do is to get the driver present somewhere on your machine. Ideally, it should be fully unzipped, and sitting on its own in a directory that’s easy for you to find. You should have at least one file that has the extension of .inf, which contains the information that Windows needs to match that driver with a given hardware component, and how to install the drivers. There should be other files, with extensions like .dll, .bin, .com, .exe, and others. Don’t fiddle with these, or try to run them – let Windows deal with that. To force the update, go to the Device Manager (I assume from your question that you already know how to get there) and navigate to the device you want to update. Right-click it, and select “Update driver” from the context menu. In the dialog that comes up, select “Browse my computer for driver software,” then under “Search for drivers in this location” click “Browse…” and navigate to the location where you put the desired driver. When you’re ready, click “Next.” If Windows still insists that the best driver is already installed, the driver you selected is not compatible with your device.

So, I said above that I am not necessarily in agreement with you that the problem lies with the driver. I wasn’t really able to tell which “prior column” you were referring to from which you were drawing guidance on how to determine whether your device is installed, but I’m going to refer you back to I.G.T.M. Issue #508, April 16, 2017 in which reader Jim R. was having problems with Windows 10 disabling his USB ports. My advice to him was centered around checking his device’s Windows Power Management (WPM) settings, as WPM has the ability to turn devices off to conserve power. In certain cases, the devices have been known to fail to properly restart after being put to sleep in this manner. So, check out that issue, and see if it doesn’t apply to your situation. Good luck!

• •

Well, my dear Geeks, this issue brings 2019 to a close for my little Q&A column. I’m going to end the year with another plea for you to continue writing in, since my question queue is currently running on fumes. I have lots of stuff to draw from that I want to write about, and while that will pass along lots of geeky information, the column’s primary purpose is to provide focused help on technology issues. Remember, I.G.T.M. is not just for computer questions, but for any and all technology-related issues. Surely, I have readers out there who are dealing with startup issues from one or more of their technology-based Christmas presents? Before you head back to the store for an exchange, hit my website, and ask away! We’ll see whether we can’t get things running smoothly for you. In the meantime, thanks for another great year! I’ll be starting off 2020 with Issue #650! Happy New Year!

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