Chapter 10. Hardware

Unless you’re seriously into cables, you probably pay attention to your hardware only when something goes wrong—like when your machinery seems possessed by demons. The good news is that you can solve many glitches with just a little bit of tweaking and fiddling. And that’s what this chapter is all about: hints for tackling some of the most common hardware problems.

Hardware Troubleshooting

Half the fun of having a computer comes from the gadgets you get to plug into it: digital cameras and MP3 players and printers. But these devices don’t always get along with each other. Conflicts include intermittently working mice, printers that don’t print, and extremely unhappy computer owners. This section explains how to peer deep into your hardware to see what’s gone wrong, and how to fix problems once you find ‘em.


One of the most persistent hardware problems is cable clutter. You can tame it with a cable organizer (also sometimes called a cable tunnel) which gathers together all your cables and hides them inside a plastic housing. There are several types, including boxes you can tuck cables into, or slotted guides specifically designed to keep cables from intertwining. They usually cost about $10 at office supply stores and sites like

Getting Help from the Device Manager

If you’ve got a stubborn hardware problem—such as a mouse that’s not responding, or a CD drive that doesn’t seem to be reading CDs—XP’s Device Manager can help. The Device ...

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