Update drivers to end Windows XP overload


April 24, 2003|By James Coates | James Coates,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

I have a powerful computer with a gigabyte of RAM running Windows XP Pro, and performance on all games and applications is great - except for printing. Print jobs (especially Web pages) drive the CPU to consume 100 percent of resources and hold it there almost continuously until the job finishes. The printer is an old HP 1200C.

Is the lack of RAM on the printer the cause of the CPU thrashing? Are there any settings I can tweak to allow print jobs to run in the background while taking fewer CPU cycles?

The culprit is the driver software used to operate that venerable HP DeskJet. You need to update it to the version specifically designed for Windows XP.

In cases where one only needs to update the drivers themselves, it is possible to find most of them already on the computer as part of the massive code that goes into Windows XP. This takes a tad of doing, but go to the Add Hardware Control Panel by clicking on Start and then Control Panel. In XP, a wizard will be launched that is designed to sense new hardware and install the needed drivers and other software.

Point it to the connection that your printer uses and see if it finds it. In that case, you will be led through a driver installation. Windows probably will not see the printer but that's fine, too. Just follow the wizard prompts until you get to where it lets you seek out your own hardware.

Follow the rest of the install prompts, and your machine will print while surfing the Web and playing Space Invaders with hardly a blip.

Some folks find it easier to just go to a company's Web site and download drivers. Check that out at www.hp.com. Click on the Support and Drivers choice, and you can easily search out that printer for a Web download of the small program.

Owners of older equipment can also use the Web site to order CDs containing drivers and programs for products dating back many years.

James Coates is a columnist for the Chicago Tribune. He can be reached at jcoates@tri bune.com.

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