New Software and Hardware Installation Problems 

So, you just purchased a brand new software application for your PC. Now you go to install it and it wonít install. Why wonít it install? Well, there can be a number of reasons. One reason is that your operating system might not have all of the latest updates of its system files. Another reason might be that you donít have enough hard disk space or enough RAM if determined by the application. Usually having a slower speed processor doesnít cause install problems. Slower processors will just make the program run slower. Still other reasons may be that your system doesnít have all of the latest and greatest in multimedia required, if youíre installing a game application. To help alleviate a lot of these problems before you purchase that next software application, take a very close look at the requirements for the software on the box cover.

Another really big problem is after you install that new software onto your computer, you find that a lot of older applications quit working or have errors popping up now and again. Youíve probably succumbed to what developers refer to as DLL hell! This problem occurs more often than it ever should but it seems that it will never go away. Supposedly DLL management has been improved in Windows 2000, but I have yet to personally test this. So, now your once functioning PC has taken a turn for the worse and now what should you do? There are several solutions to this problem. One solution is may be to uninstall the new application. However, this may damage your system even further depending on the vendor of the application. Another is to try and download all of the latest patches for your Windows version from the internet. This will usually solve most problems. You could also try to freshen your Windows files by reinstalling the operating system from disk. This solution will typically only overwrite older versions with the most current one and leave any newer DLL files alone. If this fails you may want to bite the bullet and upgrade to Windows 98 Second Edition. This will upgrade your system to the latest and greatest version of the Windows 95/98 line. I had to take this route on my notebook after a development tool corrupted my system. Well written applications will check the version of your current Dynamic Link Library (DLL) files prior to overwriting them on your system. However, not all developers or publishers use good installation tools or donít check the versions of files before overwriting them on your system. This can cause major problems especially if the new software overwrites your current system DLL files with an older version. This problem breaks more computer systems than I care to know. Additionally, removing a newly installed software application can inadvertently remove a normally used system file from your PC if it updated it with a new version. This is another frequent way that computer systems are rendered unusable as well.

How can you be sure that these types of problems wonít happen to you? Well, if the software asks during the installation whether or not to backup your system files for you, do so. Additionally itís a good idea to use well-known and reputable companies when purchasing new software. However, this does not guarantee in no way that your system wonít become dysfunctional. I can still remember Microsoft Service Packs for Windows NT and Microsoft Office that have done their share of damage to well running systems. Another recent example is the installation of AOL 5.0 onto various systems and the problems that it has caused. I have talked with several users that have had a variety of problems after installing AOL 5.0 onto their systems. Just remember that computers are very far from perfect and will never approach perfect. There are simply too many things that can easily be accidentally on a system like deleting one little file that will cause your system to come crashing to its knees. So always make backups and be ready to reinstall your operating system if need be.

Another problem that can occur with new software after it has been installed is that the version you purchased may have been on the store shelf for several months and it isnít the latest version. It is rare that any application on the market will be shipped without bugs. In fact it is nearly impossible to create an application that doesnít have some kind of bug or flaw in it. With so many various configurations of hardware and software installed on todayís PCís, it takes work on the users part sometimes to make them all work together. You may have IRQ conflicts, DLL conflicts and operating system version problems. So the best thing to do is to always check on the software vendorís web site to see if they have an update available for their software. More than likely they will or they will soon. So if you like to purchase a lot of new software, I highly recommend that you have a fast connection to the internet so you can always download the latest and greatest patches for your software. I recently had to download 60MB patch to one of my applications and that would have taken hours on a dial up connection. Thank you ADSL!

On the hardware side of things, the Universal Serial Bus (USB) standard was viewed as being the perfect plug and play solution to most of your new hardware add-ons. Well it hasnít quite delivered as was promised. Most of the problems stem from the operating system that your PC runs. For example Windows 95 prior to version B didnít support USB. Windows 95 OSR2 or version B added limited support for USB. It was not until Windows 98 that full USB support was added and it was not until the release of Windows 98 Second Edition that made even more improvements to this support. Windows 98 SE seems to support USB fairly well. If you have Windows NT 4.0, you donít have USB support at all. However, Windows 2000 has added USB device support.

As an example, I had an incident with my notebook which had Windows 95 OSR2 installed on it and I connected an HP Scanjet using the USB port to it and it would reboot my notebook sporadically. Sometimes it would work and then at other times it would completely lock up my system. Then once I installed Windows 98 SE onto my notebook the scanner worked as advertised. Many USB devices that I had that worked most of the time worked better than before. So remember if you are looking at using USB equipment on your PC check what version of Windows you have before making your next purchase. This will save you several hours of frustration.

Rich Simpson is president of Mindís Eye, Inc., a software development and IT consulting firm. He has a degree in aerospace engineering and has been designing and developing custom and commercial database applications since 1986. For more information or to download software demos visit their web site at or send e-mail to or call 636-282-2102.

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Last modified: March 02, 2009