What Is A Device Driver?

Your computer consists of thousands of software and hardware components successfully communicating with each other and working together as a team. Software components in your computer include the operating system as well as various programs that are installed on it. Among the hardware components you have essential components such as the monitor, keyboard, and mouse which are absolutely necessary for the normal functioning of your PC. Then, there are optional peripheral devices like scanners, printers and microphones that you may require to perform a particular task.

A device driver is a computer program that determines how your Windows operating system and other high-level programs interact with different hardware devices and components. It is also sometimes referred to as a software driver. A device driver facilitates this interaction by converting the instructions that your operating system and software programs give into messages that your hardware can comprehend.

A device driver is required for interfacing with many hardware devices including:

  • Computer Printers
  • Scanners
  • Sound Cards
  • Network Cards
  • Video Adapters
  • Storage devices ? CD-ROMs, external hard disks
  • Digital Cameras

Each device, such as a keyboard, display monitor, disk drive, and printers require a device controller to control data transfer between your computer and the device. These device controllers use the device drivers to enable communication between computer software and the respective devices.

Your operating system already has many device drivers installed on it. Since a majority of devices that are available in the market are plug and play, as soon as you connect them, your operating system identifies them immediately and starts searching for their respective driver.

For example, the moment you connect an external device such as a USB drive to your PC, a message pops-up on your Windows taskbar that informs you that a USB device has been detected and is currently being installed. After installation is complete, you can use the device.

However, if you purchase any new device that the operating system did not foresee then you will need to install a device driver for it. So, in case you have purchased a new sound card that your Windows operating system did not anticipate, then you will need to install an audio driver for it. There are also instances where your operating system may have the driver for a device but it may not be the latest one. If this happens, then you should install the driver using the CD that comes along with a new product. In case you do not find the required driver along with the product, you may need to download that driver from the official website of the product manufacturer.

In order to manage the whole range of device drivers installed on your computer, you can choose either the manual or automatic option. You can choose to manually manage the device drivers by using the Device Manager utility that is available in the Control Panel of your Windows Startup Menu. However, many users are wary of using this utility or find it cumbersome to use. If you are one of the cautious users or would like to opt for the convenience of an automatic tool, then you can opt for Driver Finder or any other reliable third-party driver management tool that will help you download as well update your device driver in a few moments.