What is a Device Driver?

Device drivers aren’t something you usually encounter day-to-day, but they are incredibly important. A computer driver can almost be thought of as a translator. Let’s say the operating system wants to tell the device to do something, but it doesn’t speak the same language.

The workaround that was designed for this is to use a device driver which will “translate” the software’s instructions (applications too!). Remember, a device driver is a very complex set of instructions in software form that are used by software programs to interact and access all hardware resources available from specific hardware devices.

Starting with memory banks, chip-sets and graphics adapters, every device listed in your hardware sheet requires a device driver to function properly.

Certain devices are what’s called “plug and play” which means there is a generic driver to handle that entire category of devices. The best example of these are flash drives and external hard drives. Because these devices are all pretty much a generic data device, there is a driver called imaginatively “USB mass storage device” that handles all of them.

Drivers are normally supplied with the device that you have purchased. If you don’t get a CD or any kind of media with the device driver, you need to ask the seller where you can get one, especially for devices made by less known manufacturers.

If you buy a device and no driver is supplies and you can’t find one online, you will not be able to use that device. So, the device is only as valuable as the driver that your operating system will use to benefit from that device.

You should also keep in mind that a device driver gets regular updates, at least once every couple of months, especially from manufacturers that provide with graphics cards.

These updates increase both the performance and the stability of the respective device, which means you should not forget to check and see if there is a new version. The drivers are free and you can find them on the manufacturer’s site. Recently, the drivers also come in a very easy to use package, so you can easily install them without too much hassle.

Finally, the device driver needs to be checked first if your computer or a certain part of it seems to not be functioning correctly. The device driver is the link between your hardware devices and your operating system. If the link is broken the system will not work properly and will cause all sort of problems.

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