A computer relies on files called drivers to handle its interactions with its components. Drivers are like little translators that let the computer and the pieces the computer is built from talk to each other. One of the misconceptions about computers is that they’re a single machine, but in reality every part of your computer speaks a different language and the only way for them to communicate is by having the proper drivers installed on your machine.
Drivers are associated with specific parts of your computer. For example, your computer may have a driver for a printer, another driver for the audio devices, another for your monitor, keyboard and mouse. Signals from the device pass through the connection with the computer, are translated into a language the Central Processing Unit can understand and shot back to the device. Just like human languages, these machine languages change over time, which can make the dictionary used to translate them (the driver) out of date. An out of date translator means garbled communication which leads to errors or non-functioning devices.
As you can see, keeping your device drivers up to date is very important for preventing computer bugs and making sure you get the most out of your machine. Earlier computer operating systems made getting and installing drivers complicated and time consuming. Each file representing a driver needed to be manually found and installed. Progress in hardware and software design has simplified the procedure a great deal, much to the relief of inexperienced computer users who just want their machine to work right.
To update your drivers on a Windows computer you need to open the device manager. The device manager is a database of all the hardware attached to your computer. You can find the device manager in the control panel of your machine. Other links to the device manager can be found in the start menu or as an automatic part of installing new hardware. Once you’ve opened the device manager you need to find out what device you need to change.
This will usually be the device you’re having problems with. Open up that device and bring up the properties dialog box with a left click. Once you press the Update Driver’s option, Windows will scan for a suitable driver that’s newer than the one already installed and run a Wizard program to guide you through the upgrade. Often this involves using Windows Update, which connects your computer to the Internet and scans a database of all the Windows-compliant drivers. The Wizard will then download and install the driver for you.
Since this is a computer, this doesn’t always work perfectly. If the automatic update fails, you’ll need to find the driver for your device on-line, usually at the hardware manufacturer’s site. Find the matching driver there and download it. Open the device manager as above and instead of selecting the automatic option, select the ‘have disk’ option. This will let you select the driver you downloaded and install it manually.
Fixing your drivers is one of the most common solutions for problems on a personal computer. Knowing how and why to download and upgrade your drivers should save you a lot of headaches when things stop working on your machine.