QUESTION I'm unable to hear any sound through the speakers on my Acer Extensa 5630Z Windows 7 laptop. It makes no difference whether I'm listening to MP3 files stored on the hard drive, videos streamed from a website or even system sounds. I can hear very faint audio when I plug in a pair of headphones, but turning up the volume doesn't improve things.

The laptop has a Realtek sound card, but reinstalling the drivers hasn't helped. I've also used System Restore, experimented with different headphones and speakers, and tinkered with settings in the Sounds control panel. I'm at a loss as to what to do next. Bintangmu

HELPROOM ANSWER A peculiarity of Microsoft Windows Vista and Microsoft Windows 7 is that they refuse to overwrite an old driver with a newer version if they consider it to be working. Although Windows will let you run the installation process, it will ignore the new driver thereafter.

To fool Windows into using the new driver, you'll need to download the latest version from Uninstall the old driver from the Computer Management console, reboot the machine and then install the new one. Make a note of the driver version number and double-check Windows has installed the right one.

If this fix doesn't help, you may be able to return the laptop under warranty.

See also: How to fix everything: the ultimate guide to fixing technology

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