Understanding What Device Drivers Do and How They Work

All computer systems have different types of peripheral devices and hardware components connected to it such as mouse, keyboard, modem, monitor, sound card, video card etc.

For these devices to work properly, your computer system needs to have a software program called a Device Driver. These device drivers are developed both by device manufacturers and operating system developers.

How does a Device Driver Work?

A device driver is a set of instructions which acts as a bridge between a peripheral device or hardware component and the operating system. A computer system needs these drivers to communicate properly with the hardware component. Every hardware device has a corresponding driver. For example, a sound card will have a sound card driver, a printer will have a printer driver and a USB driver will have a USB driver.

In other words, drivers help your computer system to differentiate between two hardware devices so that if you want to print a document, the printer driver will help the computer system to recognize the printer and complete the task.

Driver Errors and Fixes

Like any other software program, drivers need to be updated regularly to avoid errors. Operating system developers and hardware manufacturers release driver updates regularly. Before installing any kind of device driver on your system you should make sure that it is the latest and most updated version. Updated versions of drivers can be found on the Internet. While downloading an update for your driver ensure that you download it from a reliable source. Most reliable and authentic driver updates can be found either on the manufacturer?s website or from the operating system developer?s site.

In the Windows operating system, you can update your drivers through the Device Manager utility. To open the Device Manager, right-click on the My Computer icon on your desktop, and then select Properties. Next, on the Hardware tab choose Device Manager. In the Device Manager you can skim through hardware device categories and identify the device for which you want to install the update for and then right-click on this device and select Properties. Open the Driver tab in the properties dialog box and click Update Driver to start the Hardware Update Wizard. Next, follow the instructions in the wizard to update your driver.

Once the updates are complete, restart your computer to make sure that the updates have been installed properly and there are no errors because of the new version.

Device drivers are developed for a specific operating system. For example, drivers for the Windows operating system are different from that of the Linux operating system. Also, drivers for Windows XP are different from that of Windows Vista. Therefore, you should take extra care while installing drivers for a hardware device. Installing a wrong driver can permanently damage your device as well as the computer system. To prevent this confusion, it is recommended that you use a good third-party driver update tool such as Driver Finder to update your device drivers. These tools automatically scan your computer for outdated and obsolete drivers and then suggest new, better, and compatible versions.