What Is A Computer Driver?
Whenever you connect new hardware to your computer, it will prompt you to install a driver. You may have encountered this situation before. Here, you will know what is a driver, and what is it used for?
When you connect a new device to a USB port on your computer, a headset, or a new graphics card, the operating system may ask for a “driver installation,” or it may report that “no driver was found,” and so on.
A driver is a specialized software that allows the operating system, such as Windows, to communicate with a specific hardware component (for example, a printer or graphics card), and to serve that component. The driver allows programs and applications to receive data from the hardware and vice versa.
A driver is, therefore, a type of intermediary between hardware or software: If you connect a device without installing the appropriate driver, the computer will not recognize the device and hence, will not be able to use it. There are drivers for different devices – the most important include drivers for:
- Video cards
- Sound cards
- Hard drives (HD, SSD )
How to install a driver?
By default, operating systems like Windows provide many generic drivers that are already included – in the case of Windows; these drivers are also called standard Windows drivers. Standard Windows drivers ensure that you can connect a device in many (but not all) cases, and you don’t have to worry about installing the driver. For example, if you join a new printer, Windows will automatically detect the device and install the most appropriate default driver. It’s called Plug & Play: plug it in, and you’re done, you don’t need to do anything else, and the device will work on its own.
The critical point: with these standard drivers, you generally don’t use the full functionality of the device in question. In addition to some exceptions (example: ASUS sound card drivers work for many users worse than standard Windows drivers), it is always advisable to use the device manufacturer’s drivers and keep them up to date. Drivers are usually provided on a CD included with the device, but alternatively, you can download them from the manufacturer’s website and install them manually.
Standard Windows driver
Microsoft automatically pre-installs many drivers on computers running the Windows operating system. These drivers are called the standard Windows driver. For almost all hardware, there is a standard driver. Windows has these features so that a user can use a hardware component immediately, without having to install it manually. All of these drivers are stored in the central Windows folder:
Many users are unaware that these standard drivers do not use all the capabilities of a hardware component. If you have a graphics card that works with a standard driver, the performance of that card will be much lower than if you are using drivers designed specifically for that component. Therefore, you should always use the drivers that the hardware manufacturer has developed.
Why do drivers need updating?
When you buy a Windows PC, it already comes with the operating system installed, including drivers for all of its devices. And if you buy a new device, such as a printer or a new graphics card, it comes with a disc containing the corresponding drivers. After installing the driver, the device works.
But the drivers for this device, like any software, are complex. They can contain errors that compromise the stability of the system and have often been developed in a hurry. But software development takes time, so the manufacturer will release later updates, either to make improvements or to correct flaws in the first drivers. Therefore, for best performance and stability, you should keep your drivers up to date.
And updating drivers is even more important on devices like graphics cards or video drivers. Graphics drivers are the most complex of all Windows drivers. They can improve the speed of graphics using hardware acceleration. Graphics drivers play a central role in the operating system, as they are also used by printer drivers when rendering graphic images.
Therefore, they affect the performance and stability not only of the display but also of the printing. Because they are so complex, they are updated frequently. The use of outdated video drivers can have a significant impact on the performance of the operating system.
How to update drivers
Hardware manufacturers regularly release new versions of drivers. These updates resolve issues that you may have encountered, or improve and control your hardware more efficiently.
There are many sites where you can download drivers, but be careful, as there are sites that offer drivers that have been modified by a hacker. If you download and install this driver, you will end up installing a virus or malicious software on your computer. So, download drivers from the manufacturer’s official website, to never have this type of problem.