Dealing with Drivers and Other Tales of Hardware Troubleshooting

A driver is the software that allows Windows and all of your applications to work with a hardware device, such as a printer or video card. That way, for example, your word processor doesn’t need to be preprogrammed with the details of all available printers (as in the early days of PCs). Instead, Windows manages a central database of drivers, silently directing the communication among all your applications and whatever drivers are required to complete the task at hand.

Problems arise when a driver is buggy or outdated, or one of the files that comprise a driver is missing or corrupted. Outdated drivers designed either for a previous version of Windows or a previous version of the device can create problems. Additionally, manufacturers must continually update their drivers to fix incompatibilities and bugs that surface after the product is released. It’s usually a good idea to make sure you have the latest drivers installed in your system when troubleshooting a problem. Furthermore, newer drivers sometimes offer improved performance, added features and settings, better stability and reliability, and better compatibility with other software and drivers installed in your system.

The other thing to be aware of is that some drivers may just not be the correct ones for your system. For example, when installing Windows, Setup may have incorrectly detected your video card or monitor and hence installed the wrong driver (or even ...

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