What is a Driver Anyway?
Drivers are the controllers that communicate between your PC’s operating system and the hardware that is on your computer. They make sure all the hardware and devices work together, streamlining communication to function effectively. A driver is kind of like an instruction manual for your computer on how to use this new video card, mouse, keyboard, web cam, hard drive, printer, etc. It tells the operating system which signal causes what function and what the hardware’s capabilities are.
When you buy new hardware, for instance a web cam or a printer, your PC won’t know how to operate it without instructions. Those instructions are contained as a driver, usually on a disc that comes with the product. Always keep these manufacturer’s disks in a safe place so if something does happen to the functionality of the hardware, you can quickly reinstall the supported manufacturer’s driver.
Drivers Gone Bad
When hardware isn’t working properly, it can be often attributed to some kind of driver problem. Either the original driver has become corrupt or you need a newer version. Any time you install new software or update existing software, there is a possibility that your current drivers will be rendered useless. But as long as you are diligent about updating your drivers, your PC should continue to function smoothly!
You can update your drivers in a variety of ways:
Method 1: Using Windows Update
Go to Windows Update under All Programs in your Start menu and enter your search query in the Update Driver Software window. If Update finds any new drivers, it will install them on your PC automatically for you.
Method 2: Automatic Checks
You can set Windows Update to automatically download and install recommended drivers for your PC. Open Windows Update (under All Programs in your Start menu) and select Change Settings. You can choose to either have your PC automatically install important and recommended, or just important updates.
Method 3: Manually Update Drivers
Manually installing a driver is pretty easy, even without any technical savvy.
Go to the Start menu and select the Control Panel
Click on Systems and then go to the Hardware tab
Click on Device Manager and look for the device you need the updated driver for and double click on it
Go to the Driver tab and select Update Driver
When the install screen opens, choose “Install for a list or specific location” and click Next. Uncheck “search removable media” and check “Include this location in search.” Then click the browse button to go to the directory where you saved your new driver.
Click Next and your PC will attempt to install the new driver. It may be necessary to reboot your computer after the installation.
If you'd like to pursue professional help in updating your windows drives, there are many accredited tools out there that can automatically identify driver errors and either suggest solutions or enact the fix right there and then.