What are “Drivers” on your computer?

Do you know what computer drivers are; what they do?

Do you understand why you should keep computer drivers up to date? Don’t be alarmed if you don’t know. Plenty of people are still adapting to having computers at all, let alone understanding everything that makes them tick.

It’s the 21st century and computers have become as commonplace as transistor radios were during the 1950’s. Unfortunately, today’s computers are a good deal more complex than the transistor radios of yesteryear. The intricacies of keeping up the maintenance on today’s computers can get pretty confusing pretty quickly.

But while there is plenty of computer terminology that the average computer user will never need to know, being familiar with your computer driver, what it does, and why you should keep it updated is actually pretty important.

What are Computer Drivers?

Computer drivers are the means by which computer components are able to talk to each other and to the Central Processing Unit (CPU). The term driver is appropriate as computer drivers quite literally enable (or “drive”) communication between the computer’s operating system, all its various components as well as its hardware.

At its most fundamental level, a computer driver (also known as firmware) is nothing more than a series of instructions that enable your computer to communicate (or interface) with a piece of hardware or software. Without these instructions the parts would simply sit there and look at each other without every figuring out how to talk to each other in order to get things done.

Not only are there drivers within your computer itself that allow your CPU to “talk” to your operating system; that allow your operating system to “talk” to your software, there are drivers that come with new equipment. Every time you hook up a new piece of equipment (say a printer) to your computer, you get a new “driver” or set of instructions that come with it; usually in the form of a CD ROM.

You insert this disk, the computer “reads” it, and follows the instructions that allow you to hook the printer up to your computer and enables the operating system to “talk” to the printer’s system.

Why is Updating Your Drivers Important?

Updating your computer drivers is important because both computer operating systems as well as the various pieces of computer hardware and software programs are continually being updated and ‘improved.’ Unfortunately, every time that a new version of your software or hardware comes out, the drivers need to be updated.

If you don’t have the right drivers installed your hardware or software could have difficulties ‘communicating’ with other parts of your computer resulting in slow processing or even computer failure; especially if you attempt to install an outdated or incorrect driver on your system.