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[ The PC Guide | Systems and Components Reference Guide | Motherboard and System Devices | System Resources | System Configuration ]

Problems With Changing Default Resource Assignments

In theory, any device should be able to work at any of the resource settings it supports. Unfortunately in the real world, this isn't always the case. One of the main reason is that software sometimes makes assumptions that it really shouldn't. Sometimes, one of these assumptions is that a device will use the resource settings it defaults to. If you change the settings, the software will not function correctly. This is much more prevalent with older software than newer.

One of the worst problem areas in this regard is the sound card, and the programs that often cause the problem are games. Games are some of the most performance-demanding applications you will use on your PC, and to maximize performance they often work directly with the hardware. To do this they have their own driver programs, and sometimes these programs cut corners by only supporting devices in their default location. This problem is much less severe than it once was, and is generally found only in DOS games (not those that run natively under Windows 95). For this reason, it is best to leave the sound card settings at the values they default to, and change other devices to avoid the sound card if necessary.

Another problem with changing default resource settings has to do with software testing. Software should be tested with a variety of different hardware using a variety of different settings. Programmers often are incomplete in their testing work (or they have pointy-haired managers who force them to cut corners). If the testing is not thorough, the unusual resource settings--the things they "never thought anyone would try"--are where the strange bugs occur. This problem is still very common, for all types of programs and all types of hardware devices. This is why it's a bad idea in most cases to attempt to change the default resources for "standard" devices in your system. You should generally leave your devices at the defaults that are common to most PCs, whenever possible. While changing them probably will work OK, it's asking for more trouble.

This is not to say you should never change the resource settings for your devices. In many cases, you need to, or it is the option that makes the most sense to avoid a conflict or other problems. But it is wise to be careful and to try to change the less important devices where possible. It is also a good idea to avoid unusual settings as much as possible.

Next: Device Resource Usage Summary

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