Resolving Resources Conflicts Manually

In the past, the only way to resolve conflicts manually was to take the cover off your system and start changing switches or jumper settings on the adapter cards. Fortunately, this is a bit easier with plug-and-play because all the configuration is done via the Device Manager software included in the operating system.

Although some early plug-and-play cards also had jumper switches or setup options to enable them to be configured manually, this feature was found primarily on ISA PnP-compatible cards. Be sure you write down or print out your current system settings before you start making changes. That way, you will know where you began and can go back to the original configuration (if necessary).

Finally, dig out the manuals for all your adapter boards; you might need them, particularly if they can be configured manually or be switched to PnP mode. Additionally, you could look for more current information online at the manufacturers' Web sites.

Now you are ready to begin your detective work. As you try various resource settings, keep the following questions in mind; the answers will help you narrow down the conflict areas:

  • When did the conflict first become apparent? If the conflict occurred after you installed a new adapter card, that new card probably is causing the conflict. If the conflict occurred after you started using new software, the software probably uses a device that is taxing your system's resources in a new way.

  • Are there two similar devices in your system that do not work? For example, if your modem, integrated serial ports, or mouse—devices that use a COM port—do not work, chances are good that these devices are conflicting with each other.

  • Have other people had the same problem, and if so, how did they resolve it? Public forums, such as those on CompuServe, Internet newsgroups, and America Online, are great places to find other users who might be able to help you solve the conflict.

Whenever you make changes in your system, reboot and see whether the problem persists. When you believe that you have solved the problem, be sure to test all your software. Fixing one problem often seems to cause another to crop up. The only way to ensure that all problems are resolved is to test everything in your system.

One of the best pieces of advice I can give you is to try changing one thing at a time, and then retest. That is the most methodical and the simplest way to isolate a problem quickly and efficiently. As you attempt to resolve your resource conflicts, you should work with and update a system-configuration template.