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What are Drivers?

Drivers are needed for operating systems to communicate with the hardware that makes up the computer.

Windows and Linux are examples of operating systems, and the hardware is anything physical that you can take off your computer or replace, such as video cards, keyboards, hard drives, the mouse, DVD player and so on.

Drivers (also called controllers) are small software programs that explain to your operating system how the hardware works. The driver is like an instruction book for your operating system. It tells the operating system what signal causes what function and explains the capabilities of the hardware (like the screen resolution or how fast the cd-writer can burn).

When you buy a new printer, you must plug it into your computer to link the two together. You also must install the printer drivers to link the two together. The drivers are located on a CD that will be in your box.  Often it will be bundled with all sorts of other software (probably image manipulation programs in the case of a printer) Keep track of this CD in case you need to reinstall the drivers, or install them on a different computer. You can also download the drivers from the manufacturer’s website.   Many manufacturers update their drivers on a regular basis and will add fixes to specific faults they hadn’t foreseen, and it’s definitely worthwhile to update your drivers for better performance.  New drivers can be added and old drivers removed reasonably easily through the Windows control panel.

Driver problems are often responsible for system problems. If your computer or device isn’t working as it should, usually it’s a driver issue. It’s important however to use the right driver. This means knowing the brand, model, and sometimes even the serial number, for your hardware. It also means installing the correct driver for the operating system you are using – don’t try to shove a windows 2000 designed driver onto an XP system because it won’t work properly and will probably damage your system.

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