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What Are Computer Drivers and What Do They Do?


    Drivers are software programs that are installed along with new hardware devices that allow the computer’s operating system to communicate with the system’s components such as graphic cards, modems, network cards, and sound cards. Unlike the processor and CD/DVD drives that use a standard code and are recognized by the operating system automatically, some components do not use standard commands and will not be recognized by the operating system directly. The particular code commands used by such devices require a driver to act like a translator and connect the device and the operating system. The driver is the program code that the operating system uses to control all kinds of external devices like a mouse, printer, or fax machine.

    What Are Computer Drivers and What Do They Do?

    Drivers are vitally important for the operation of your computer system because not having the right ones can interfere with and prevent your hardware from operating properly. Without compatible drivers, the computer will not be able to access and operate your equipment.

    While many devices of the same sort may appear to serve the same function, when it comes to drivers they are not the same at all. Drivers are designed by producers to be brand and operating system specific. For example, a printer driver designed for a Canon printer will not work for an HP printer. Likewise, a Canon printer driver for Windows won’t work on Macintosh.

    When you purchase a new device, like a printer or a fax machine, and connect it to your system, it will come with a floppy or a compact disk. You’ll use this installation disk to load the drivers required to run the application and access the device. It is important that you walk through the entire installation process and make sure that the application and drivers are loaded completely in order to avoid configuration and compatibility issues in the future.

    Drivers can also be downloaded from manufacturers’ websites. In fact, this is common practice in order to make devices compatible with new operating systems and to get the most recent, updated drivers for devices. Drivers are similar to instruction manuals for the operating system to read and learn how to operate the hardware. As operating systems change, so do the instructions have to change to correlate the new systems with the devices.

    There are several common and likely causes of driver errors or reasons why the computer won’t be able to properly access hardware devices. If you are having driver errors there are a few things that you can consider. There could be problems that interfere with the communication process, such as bugs in the driver or the operating system that result in frequent buffer errors. Unstable communication can result from corrupted or otherwise damaged drivers. There are numerous websites that offer driver updates and information about how to configure and update specific operating systems and devices. It is likely that users can successfully navigate many issues independently or, if preferred, there are driver scan software programs available as well.

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