Category Archives: Device drivers

Reboot Clears Little White Box

Here’s an odd one. Yesterday afternoon — right after updating the beta NVIDIA app, in fact — the right-hand display on my production PC starting showing a  blank area at its dead center. It appeared to be about 100 pixels wide and 15-20 pixels deep. It wouldn’t go away, no matter which apps I opened or closed. Happily, a reboot clears little white box this morning, so it appears it was temporary.

When Reboot Clears Little White Box, Then What?

Of course, I’m pretty sure the box wasn’t actually white. I set my desktop background to solid white routinely, because it supports the best screenshots for my writing work. I’m pretty sure it would have reflected whatever the desktop looked like in that region.

My best guess is that the screen simply wasn’t updating that rectangular region, and it was displaying its default appearance. Hence its color, which matches the desktop background (see lead-in graphic). Whenever the graphics driver was updating the screen, it skipped whatever range of addresses that box represented for each update, like it wasn’t even there. Which is sort of true, but also annoying.

Seems like yesterday’s driver update may have dropped those addresses. In retrospect, I should have tried the graphics driver reset shortcut (WinKey+Ctrl+Shift+B ) to see if that brought the box back to life. A reboot also resets the graphics driver, among many other things that may have been unnecessary. But it did the trick.

And boy howdy, that’s how the mop flops here in Windows-World this morning. It’s always an adventure!


Snappy Misses Realtek UAD Drivers

My attitude toward Windows Update driver tools has changed a lot over the years. I’ve tried a lot of them. Indeed Tim Fisher’s “Best free” Lifewire guide mentions no fewer than 8 (May, 2024).  I’ve come to rely on an Open Source tool named Snappy Driver Installer Origin for driver checks and updates. But this morning, I noticed that Snappy misses Realtek UAD drivers — its “Universal Audio Driver” versions that work with newer devices– and wants to use HDA (High Definition Audio) drivers instead.

If Snappy Misses Realtek UAD Drivers, Then What?

I’ve long turned to the French website Station Drivers as my “driver source of last resort” when other sources come up dry. I don’t know where or how these guys get their downloads, but they usually have the very latest (and always virus-free) versions of device drivers available. Thus, for example, my updated UAD driver was version 9464.1 dated May 6, 2024.

As you can see in the lead-in screencap, Snappy correctly identifies that my aging SkyLake i7 Asrock Z170 Extreme4+ mobo has a Realtek audio device that needs a driver updates. But it insists that such a driver be the High Definition Audio (HDA) variety. That actually works, but not with the Realtek Audio Console (which pairs with UAD drivers by design).

So what I do when I see Snappy recommend a driver I don’t want is simple. I elect not to install it. Instead, I use it as a warning to update the UAD driver, then head on over to Station Drivers to see if what they’ve got for download is newer than what I’ve got installed. In this case, it turned out to be version 9464.1 (available) vs. 9618.1 (installed). Fixed that in a hurry, I did!

Supplement Tools with Experience

This is a general approach that works well with Windows maintenance of all kinds. Once you learn the foibles and limitation of your chosen tools, you can also learn when and how to over-rule them. That’s what I did with the Realtek UAD drivers this morning. As these opportunities present, I urge you to follow suit, because that sometimes the way things go here in Windows-World.



Reboot After NVIDIA 552.22 . . . Or Else!

I updated my production desktop with its RTX 3070 Ti GPU yesterday. When that process completed, the installer asked me if I wanted to restart now or wait until later. Because I was busy working, I elected later. Then in the usual crush of a frenetic afternoon, I completely forgot that reminder. It came back crashing down upon me this morning when I noticed that graphics performance was discernibly laggy. “Aha!” I thought to myself: “The reminder should have said ‘Reboot after NVIDIA 552.22 . . . or else suffer the consequences.”

Why Reboot After NVIDIA 552.22 Update?

That was the question I asked yesterday when the installer gave its reminder. I got my answer this morning when I noticed that graphics performance was visibly slower than usual. Turns out that while the 552.22 release notes don’t explicitly say “You must reboot upon installing,” it’s considered a best practice to do so when updating a big, complex driver like the one that drives a relatively modern GPU.

That’s probably why the installer asked me to reboot when it finished. I got my demonstration this morning, after forcing my system to sleep at 4-something AM this morning when I saw the monitor was on after wandering around on a predictable nocturnal mission.

Next Time, I’ll Do It When I Quit for the Day

Upon reflection, I now realize something obvious. When I got up from my PC in the evening, with no intent to return until the next morning, that would’ve been the ideal time to reboot. As it is, I had to wait around 90 seconds, all told, for the machine to shut down, restart and reboot to the desktop. Tolerable, but not the smartest way to take the NVIDIA installer’s apt advice.


Windows 11 Wi-Fi 7 & USB4v2: What’s Up?

On January 8, 2024 Wi-Fi 7 went public. That’s the same day the Wi-Fi Alliance introduced its Wi-Fi Certified 7 program. USB4 version 2.0 goes all the way back to October 18, 2022. But only with the release of Insider Preview Canary Channel Build 26063 in February 2022 did MS start testing support for related Wi-Fi 7 drivers. (USB4 version 2.0 has been baked in since Build 23615 in the Dev Channel, released January 11, 2024.)  Neither has appeared in a production version of the OS. Thus, a valid question for Windows 11 Wi-Fi 7 & USB4v2 has to be: What’s going on? TLDR answer right now is “Not much just yet.” There are lots of good reasons why so please let me explain…

What’s Afoot with Windows 11 Wi-Fi 7 & USB4v2?

One way to look at this is from a market availability standpoint. Precious few devices for sale right now support either or both of these standards. As I write this item, I see exactly 2 network adapters (one USB, the other PCIe x4) that support Wi-Fi 7.Ditto for  Wi-Fi 7 routers. I can’t find any laptops that offer built-in support for either standard just yet. Many new models are promised later in 2024, and could change that.

Though it’s being proclaimed as something of an oversight  it’s really just a function of supply and demand. (See this Tom’s Hardware news item by way of illustration.) Basic economics and recent history with Wi-Fi 6 and USB4 version 1.0 show that it takes about two years for these new standards to make their way from introduction and into more general adoption. I don’t see this latest iteration as terribly different.

Shoot! I didn’t lay hands on my first PC with built-in USB4 capability until the Panasonic Toughbook FZ-55 showed up here at Chez Tittel late last year. Just before Christmas, in fact. If it takes that long to hit my hot little hands again, I’m looking into late 2025 before a personal encounter might happen.


Keyboard Driver Issue Kills Productivity

Think about how you type on a keyboard. Now, consider these words: fully, password, assign, connect. What they have in common is doubled letters. When I type them, I strike the doubled key very quickly then move on to the next letter. The speed at which the keyboard allows this to occur is called the “key repeat rate” aka “repeat rate.” Yesterday, some kind of keyboard driver issue kills productivity. It imposed an apparent 1-second delay between repeats. Indeed, I could barely function at the keyboard!

If Keyboard Driver Issue Kills Productivity, Then What?

A little quick online research informed me about repeat delay and repeat rate. Indeed, it came courtesy of a tutorial from long-time friend and TenForums/ElevenForum colleague Shawn Brink. It’s entitled Change Keyboard Character Repeat Rate in Windows. Its header graphic appears as the lead-in image for this blog post, too.

First, I discovered that both the repeat delay and the repeat rate weren’t working at all. I had to wait about a second to hit any key a second time, and have it show up on the display. Next, I  learned that the Microsoft Mouse and Keyboard Center wouldn’t let me adjust either rate directly. And finally, upon checking existing Registry settings, they should already have been working properly.

Title Says Driver, Fix Replaces Driver

All these bits of evidence told me the driver itself was broken. So I returned to MS support to download a new version of the MKC (Mouse and Keyboard Center) version 14.41, 64-bit. After the install, I had to reboot my PC. When it came back up, I jumped immediately into Notepad. Once again I could type words with doubled letters. And when I pressed and held any letter key, it would quickly start pumping out copies until I lifted my finger. Back in business!

They say, it’s the little things that get you in the end. Here in Windows-World they also get you at odd and random times, too. Like yesterday when MKC went south. So it goes…


NVIDIA Drops New Driver Batch

As I work through the Windows news each morning, I check X (Twitter), LinkedIn, Facebook and Mastodon by way of social media. I also check in on WinAero, WindowsLatest, MSPowerUser, Ghacks, Thurott and Windows Central as well. Today, most of them told me something like NVIDIA drops new driver batch 551.23. And indeed, I found Game-ready and Studio versions for consumer grade GPUs, as well as Quadro (551.23 aka Release 550) among the pro lines. You can see the Studio version from GeForce Experience in the lead-in graphic above.

Fast facts on this latest version:
1. Target Directory: C:\ProgramData\NVIDIA Corporation\
2. Filename: 551.23-desktop-win10-win11-64bit-
3. Download size: 519KB (downloader only)
4. On-disk file size: 1.93 GB (all files downloaded & expanded)
5. Download & install time: ~3:30 (average across 5 PCs)

Why NVIDIA Drops New Driver Batch 551.23

Most often updates follow close on the heels of new games (or game features). Sometimes, they pop up to support new NVIDIA GPU offerings. It’s the latter this time, with the release of the game- and AI-ready RTX 4080 SUPER at CES on January 8, 2024 (also includes 4070 Ti SUPER and 4070 SUPER in that mix).

Heh! I’m not sure I’m ready to fork over the long green needed to buy into the latest NVIDIA generation, but it’s nice to know they’re out there when I build my next desktop. I usually buy either a 4070 or 4070 Ti model because I can’t really justify the price/performance tax that a top-of-the-line model adds to my build costs. But gamers everywhere will probably be fighting off a new case of techno-lust.

Drivers Downloaded and Updated

Amidst my modest fleet of about one dozen PCs (8 laptops and 4 desktops), there are 7 machines with NVIDIA graphics cards of one kind or another. I’ve got the updates running on all of them right now (except for the desktop my son is using away at college, so I’ll mention this to him the next time we talk). By the time you read this, they should all be updated.

If you’ve got an NVIDIA GPU in your neighborhood, now you know there’s a new update out there, too. Three cheers for the 551.23 release!


Adding Ancient Dell Printer Gets Interesting

Oho! How the time flies by when I’m not looking. I tried to install my Dell color laser printer — Model 2155cn — on the Toughbook FZ-55 this morning, only to get the “Driver is unavailable” error in Printers & scanners again. “Hmmm…” I wondered: “How old is that thing anyway?” Turns out it made its debut in 2011, and I bought it in 2012. Like the original Apple LaserWriter I bought in the late 1980s (and kept until I bought this one) this is one indestructible beast. Thus, I must observe that for Windows 11, adding ancient Dell printer gets interesting. Simply put: Windows no longer includes these drivers in the OS distribution!

How Adding Ancient Dell Printer Gets Interesting

So now I finally understand why I’m seeing this error in Settings. You can see it, too, in the lead-in graphic. Amusingly enough, it shows up right below the device info for the 2155cn that I just installed minutes ago, courtesy of the Dell 2155 Application for Windows, which I found at the Dell Support pages. Dell calls it the 2155cn/cdn Color MFP Software Suite and Driver.

When I look at the list of supported OSes, 11 is absent — though it does mention 10, 7, Vista and XP. It bears a release date of March 2014, too. This information, along with the settings error message, is what finally clued me into what’s going on here. This darn printer is so OLD that MS doesn’t find it necessary to include its drivers amidst the thousands of newer devices it does support. This explains what was going on for my post from last week Dell Printer MIA.

Here Comes Nothing, Printer-Wise

Interestingly, MS is switching over to the Mopria printing protocol, under the umbrella of Universal Print. It will no longer provide new drivers from printer makers starting next year (2025: see this fascinating PC World item “MS is killing 3rd-party printer drivers in Windows 11“).

So, pretty soon this won’t matter. For older printers — like the Dell 2155 cn — the only option will be downloading from the maker’s website. For newer printers that are Universal Print/mopria-savvy, things should “just work.” Maybe I need to buy a new printer so I can see about that! LOL…


X1 Extreme Graphics Driver Delirium

I guess it just happens every so often. Right now, Lenovo Vantage is nagging me to upgrade graphics drivers — both Intel and NVIDIA — on my 2018 Vintage Thinkpad X1 Extreme. (Internals: i7-8850H CPU, 32 GB DDR4, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 Ti, dual Samsung OEM SSDs.) But Lenovo Vantage wants me to run an Optimus display driver and GeForce Experience wants a GeForce Game Ready Driver. The back-n-forth is leading to some X1 Extreme graphics driver delirium. What’s a body to do?

Surmounting X1 Extreme Graphics Driver Delirium

In a nutshell the problem is this: when I update to the Optimus driver, GeForce tells me to update to the Game Ready Driver, When I go the other way round, that flips so Lenovo Vantage tells me to get back on its track. I don’t do a lot of heavy-duty graphics on this laptop, and I’ll be darned if I can tell any difference.

I asked Copilot: “What’s the difference between running a GeForce Game Ready Driver versus NVIDIA Optimus Display Driver on a GeForce GTX 1050 Ti with Max-Q Design?” It says: battery and easy switching between discrete and integrated GPU for Optimus, versus gaming performance and support for newest games for Game Ready Driver.

Dilemma dehorned: I don’t play games and I do switch back and forth between the Intel UHD 630 and the discrete GPU. But I had to finagle a bit to get the status from Lenovo Vantage you see above, where it tells me “No updates available.” Deets follow next…

Both Intel and Optimus Must Update

Something about the update package from Lenovo was successfully updating the GeForce driver, but failing to do the same for Intel. How could I tell? Two ways:

  1. The Update package did not run all the way to completion.
  2. The driver version for the Nvidia device matched that for the Lenovo update package (, while that for the Intel UHD 620 was lower (update version was but the running version ended in 8967 instead). Oops!

Because the Lenovo installer wasn’t finishing up (and the Intel Driver & Support Assistant was cheerfully oblivious), I exercised the download package’s offer to extract its contents to a folder. Then I went into Device Manager, right-clicked into “Update driver” and turned it loose on the Intel folder in the unzipped file archive that extract created for me. It took a while to complete, but this worked.

So now, I’ve got the latest Optimus drivers for my X1 Extreme and it’s all good. Here in Windows World, if you’re willing to stop and think about what you’re doing, there’s nearly always a way to fix such issues. Done!


Dell Printer Driver MIA

Just as we were ready to call it a night, “the Boss” came downstairs from her office cubby. Said she “I can’t print like I usually do.” Upon investigation, Word showed her default printer as: Microsoft Print to PDF, instead of the Dell 2155cn printer right next to her desk. “Uh oh,” I thought: “That can’t be good…” And sure enough, when I went into System → Bluetooth & Devices → Printers & Scanners, I saw the tell-tale status “Driver unavailable.” Yikes, the Dell Printer Driver was MIA. What to do?

Return to Action When Dell Printer MIA

Fortunately, I’ve been down this road before. When my quick attempts to access the device showed me only the link between the Boss’s Dell OmniPlex D7080 PC and the 2155 was affected, I knew what to do.

Yep: just as the status line showed, the driver had crashed and burned. Hence: unavailable. So I removed the printer from the lineup. Then I used the “Add a Printer or scanner” facility to bring it back onto the D7080. Fortunately, that worked without my having to visit the Dell website to grab a new driver download. With its associated software and tools, that takes longer to install and set-up.

Device Manager was apparently able to locate and install a working replacement driver without any extra help (or effort) from me. After printing a test page to make sure things were working once again, I printed the red velvet cake recipe that the Boss was trying to output. Sounds — and looks — yummy.

Remove & Replace to the Rescue — Again!

Just yesterday morning, I blogged about using uninstall/reinstall to fix an issue with the brand-new PowerToys “Command Not Found” facility. Last night, I used the same approach to take a broken device driver out of play, and bring in a new and working replacement.

Hmmm. Seems like this R&R strategy is one that comes in handy for all kinds of interesting Windows issues. Let’s keep that in mind, shall we?



Windows 11 Disks & Volumes Info

Here’s something I didn’t know. Through System → Storage → Disks & volumes, Windows 11 makes all kinds of storage device info available. Indeed, such Windows 11 Disks & Volumes info (see lead-in graphic) even includes “Drive Health” for suitably-equipped devices. Let’s explore a little bit more about what that means. But first, take another look at the graphic above.

Digging Into Windows 11 Disks & Volumes Info

What can you see in this graphic? The first section shows disk info for the internal SSD, a 1 TB Kioxia NVMe. It also shows bus, target and logical unit number (LUN 0) data. There’s a Status field that shows the drive is online. Next, a Health section shows remaining life, available spare, and temperature. Finally, Partition Style shows up as GUID Partition Table (GPT). Previously, garnering this info required accessing Disk Management and Device Properties. Fabu!

In fact, if you click on Advanced Disk Properties, the same Properties page you can access through those other utilities comes up. But to me, that’s not what’s most interesting. Turns out, older USB attached devices (USB 3.x, in my local case) do not show the Drive Health section. That only works for USB4 devices (including Thunderbolt 4 items, as USB4 is a strict subset of TB4).

Now I Get It, Yet Again

Once again, I’m seeing a tangible improvement in transparency and usability when plugging in newer and more capable (but also more costly) USB4 peripherals. Even on laptops like the 2022 vintage Lenovo ThinkPad P1Gen6 Mobile Workstation (which still relies on the Thunderbolt Controller not a USB4 Host Router) these benefits convey.

As I said before in an earlier blog post “NOW I get it.” The value of the new interface is starting to come ever clearer. When I talk to the Panasonic engineers in a few minutes, I hope I will learn more. Stay tuned!

{Note Added 4 Hours Later] None of the engineers or developers I talked to was conversant with the switchover from Thunderbolt to USB4 Host Router at the hardware level. They’re floating a discreet inquiry to the Japanese engineering team to find out more. When I get more info, I’ll share it here (or in a new post, as things unfurl). Again: stay tuned!