Device drivers play an important role in your computer experience. A large percentage of computer problems are driver-related issues, and knowing how to deal with these issues can save a great deal of time and repair cost. While the functionality of drivers is a very complex topic, the windows operating system makes updating device drivers a relatively simple task.
PC Device Drivers
Drivers are the programs that connect your operating system with your hardware. Without these small applications, Windows would not know how to send a print command to your printer. Drivers are used for every internal part in your computer and all peripherals, like scanners, monitors and keyboards. They even enable functionality for unique devices like iPods and cameras.
It is important that drivers be segregated from the main operating system. Hardware developers need the freedom to create a new device without having to fit within the constraints of older designs. A one-size-fits-all driver would most likely be very inefficient and could even slow down computer systems. For these reasons, a module system is necessary for drivers. Each device –or sometimes group of devices– has its own driver.
As does all software, drivers can malfunction from time to time. These problems can be the result of a driver error, windows issue or some other failure. When these malfunctions occur, they can result in a wide range of problems with a device. Some of the older Dell laptops, for example, have a driver issue that causes the built-in keyboard and mouse to stop responding correctly or, occasionally, at all.
The first step in fixing this problem is checking the device driver, to ensure it is updated and functioning property. This information is found in the device manager. This window is easy to find, but users will use a different path depending on if they have windows xp, vista or 7.
Access the Device Manager in Windows
- Click start and go to the Control Panel
- Go to System. If the list is in category view, System will be under the Performance and Maintenance category.
- Click on the hardware tab
- Open the device manager
- Accessing the Device Manager Windows Vista and 7, Open the Control Panel through the start menu
- Go to System and Maintenance in Windows Vista or Hardware and Sound in Windows 7
- Click on Device manager
Once the device manager is open, you have access to all of the drivers that you system uses with currently installed devices. Clicking on the plus symbol on one of the categories will display all the drivers for that particular device type. For example, under the keyboard section you may see “Standard 101/102-Key” keyboard or another driver entirely. This depends on your computer model and which drivers have been installed when it was manufactured.
Check for Driver Updates
- Right click the driver name
- Select update Driver
- Tell windows it can connect to windows “this time only” and click next.
- Wait for windows to confirm whether you have the newest device driver
You will find that you will almost never need to update a driver. Manufacturers only put out an update to fix a bug or add added functionality. In both instances, usually only those with specialized uses for their devices actually need to update.
Installing DriversIn those instances where you do need to update your driver, the process is relatively simple. You will take the same steps when you have lost the disk to a device, such as a printer, and need to reinstall it or put it on a new computer.
Installing a New Device Driver and TroubleshootingNavigate to the official website of the company who manufactured the device. For example, if you own an HP printer, go to HP’s website at hp.com. Go to the drivers and downloads section. Some companies will place this behind the support button. A Google search for “hp drivers” can help find the driver page, but you should be careful not to go to a third party website. Make sure the url ends in hp.com, or the normal address of your devices manufacturer.Most manufacturers have a lookup system. Simply select your model and operating system to pull up the correct driver. In the case of HP, there are often multiple drivers. It is best to stick with the recommended option.Once you have selected the driver, download it. Click run when the option comes up. If it doesn’t, navigate to your download folder and double click the downloaded driver.The driver will now install. Fill out any prompts, but most drivers install without any user input.Finally, restart your computer and ensure your device is working.
In some circumstances, drivers will not install correctly. In these cases, follow the earlier steps to access the device manager. Instead of clicking the update driver option, click uninstall. Once uninstalled, you will be able to reinstall the driver.
Windows Vista and Windows 7 save the driver, so the process of reinstalling a driver is much simpler. You only need go to the device manager, click uninstall on the device’s driver and restart the computer. If the device is connected, the computer will automatically reinstall the driver. This is a simple and fast troubleshooting step to take before taking a non-functioning device to an expensive repair service.
>>Don’t forget the next step: Fix PC Errors