How to Update Drivers

driver-detectiveMost people at some time or another have experienced computer problems only to be advised that their drivers need updating. But what exactly is meant by that, and more to the point, what is a driver?

Quite simply, a driver is a small encoded file stored in the operating system of a personal computer. It governs any hardware devices, like modems, video cards, scanners and printers. As its name suggests, a driver drives the device, or makes it work. Your computer’s operating system uses drivers to communicate with any physical hardware attached to it.

All Microsoft Windows operating systems have a library of built-in drivers; often the system will automatically select and install the appropriate driver when a new device is added. Sometimes, though, the system will not acknowledge a new device. If that happens it’s simply a case of installing the driver manually from either a floppy disk or CD. If you don’t have a driver disk, all is not lost; you can download current drivers from the Internet.

In some cases it’s preferable to use the device manufacturer’s driver rather than the built-in Microsoft Windows version. The former are often more up-to-date, which can mean better functionality.

You may sometimes need to update a driver if a device is not working properly. Bugs in the existing driver often cause unreliable performance and glitchiness. In order to update a driver, you’ll need to download the latest version from the device manufacturer’s website. The majority of companies feature a support or customer care section on their websites. This is where driver files are usually located. To find the correct driver, all you need is the make and model of your device. This is usually clearly visible on the object itself. In the case of interior hardware like modems or video cards you will need to take a different route: Click the Start button; go to Programs, Accessories, then System Tools. In System Information a list of devices and their names will appear. If you click the plus (+) sign next to Components and then Display you will be able to see which make of device is in use.

Armed with the device name and number, you will be better equipped to find the correct driver for your hardware on the maker’s website. When you find the correct driver file on the maker’s website, click on it. You’ll be given two options. A message in your web browser will ask if you want to ‘run’ or ‘download’ the file. Always opt to download it. Then select which folder on your computer you want to save it to. For ease of use and visibility, may people opt to save downloads to the desktop. You can always move the file later on, once the driver has been successfully installed.

Installation is usually very simple, a couple of clicks and its done. Often you will be asked to restart your computer in order for the changes to take place. With the correct drivers all your hardware should run smoothly.