This video describes what a device driver is and how it functions.
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Avatar 1: Why won’t this printer work? It’s connected to the computer.
Avatar 2: Do you have a device driver installed for it?
Avatar 1: I don’t know. What’s a device driver?
Avatar 2: It’s software that helps different computer parts understand each other.
Avatar 1: Why do they need help with that?
Avatar 2: Because different computer parts all speak different languages. Avatar 1: That sounds like chaos.
Avatar 2: You might think so, but it’s actually a pretty good system. Here’s how it works.
A computer system is like the United Nations, with components coming together that speak many different languages.
Just as the United Nations relies on translators to make sure everyone understands what’s going on, a computer relies on drivers.
Each computer component has its own way of communicating. Different models and brands of the same type of device may speak languages that are similar but not exactly the same.
Each operating system also has its own language. For example, Mac OS X speaks a very different language than Windows does.
Even different versions of the same basic operating system speak different languages.
A device driver is a software-based translator that allows different operating systems and different devices to communicate.
Each device driver translates for only one operating system and one device.
For example, the device drivers for a 64-bit Windows 8.1 system are different from the device drivers for any other operating system.
And within a particular operating system, you will find a different driver for each piece of hardware in the computer—for the video card, the mouse, the keyboard, the sound card, the printer, and so on.
The operating system comes with a set of drivers for some of the most popular devices, but it can’t possibly have drivers for every piece of hardware ever made.
Therefore, when you purchase a piece of hardware to add to your computer system, you may also need to install a driver for the device. Most hardware devices come with a CD or DVD that contains drivers for several different operating systems.
You can also download the needed drivers online in many cases. Windows can search online for drivers for a new device automatically.
If a device isn’t working properly, the most common reason is the driver. If the driver isn’t right for the exact operating system version and the exact device model, it may not work perfectly.
New versions of drivers are periodically released that fix bugs and enhance performance. Depending on your operating system, you may be prompted to install driver updates automatically, or you may have to manually download and install driver updates.