Video Card Drivers – Sometimes things aren’t what they seem

I spent many hours trying to fix my mom’s laptop.  It was originally my laptop until I bought a new one last year.  Inspiron 8100 and weighs 10 lbs.  It’s old.  I think it was 2001 when I purchased it.

The problems started when she installed Windows Service Pack 3.  It ended up disabling her display drivers so that she could only see 8 colors basically.  Well, she thought she did something wrong and wasn’t suppose to install these updates.  I told her for security reasons it’s a good thing.  This is one of those unfortunate side affects.

The real kicker: If I wasn’t her son and she had to take it to someone to get fixed, she would have been charged more to have it fixed instead of just purchasing new.  I spent probably a solid 6 hours trying to get it work.
Here’s a summary of what I did to fix it.  I downloaded new drivers for it from AMD’s website.  I knew it was an ATI card in the laptop and I did a google search to confirm the model number, Radeon 7500.  I then proceeded to install the new drivers.  Unfortunately, two situations arose while trying to install them.  “Zero Init Error” that message has plagued me for years with ATI cards.  It’s an annoying error that you can receive when you already have drivers installed.  What you need to do then is to uninstall the previous drivers and install the new drivers through the device manager.

Nevertheless, it took forever.  Her computer is ancient and her internet connection is barely faster than dialup.  This makes the remote support slow going.  I eventually got the drivers installed however that created a new problem…two screens.  The computer screen displayed two copies of its self with the screen cut in half.  This also caused her computer to randomly shut down.  Not a good situation.

The solution:  I went to Dell’s website, downloaded the old drivers from 2002 instead of the 2006 drivers found on AMD’s website.  I installed those and viola!  I received an email this morning stating the laptop was fixed.

The “sometimes things aren’t what they seem” is in regards to the graphics card.  Technically, the drivers I downloaded initially should have worked.  I had to use specially designed drivers that were older and from Dell in order to get it to work.  This proprietary stuff has been a pain forever.  I wish companies wouldn’t do that.