Device Drivers and Device Manager
A Device Driver (usually called a driver) is software that controls a hardware device in or attached to your computer. This allows the Operating System or other programs to access a hardware device without needing to know precise details of the hardware being used.
All hardware devices such as Graphics Cards, Sound Cards, Network Cards, Drives, Printers, Scanners etc require a Driver to be installed before they will work. The driver that you install will depend on your Operating System.
When you buy a hardware device such as a printer then it should include a disk which includes a Driver and will state which Operating Systems it is compatible with. You can also download the latest Device Driver from the manufacturer's website which is recommended as Drivers are periodically updated to improve performance and to fix problems.
Adding Device Drivers after installing Operating System
If you have just installed a new Operating System on your Computer then you will want to install all the Device drivers for your hardware. A store bought computer should include disks which contain the drivers for your computer or if you have built your own computer then you will have a disk of drivers for your Motherboard (Chipset, USB etc. You can also visit the manufacturer's website to download the latest drivers.
The Graphics Card and other expansion card drivers can be downloaded from the manufacturer's website and installed. Lastly you can connect all your external hardware devices one at a time to download and install the correct Device Drivers.
32-bit or 64-bit Device Driver?
A 32-bit Operating System will usually use a different Device Driver than a 64-bit Operating System. To find out what Windows Operating System you have then do the following:
1. Click the Start button, right-click 'Computer', and then select Properties.
2. Under System, you can view your Windows edition and whether it is 32-bit or 64-bit.
Alternatively, you can press the 'Windows key' and the 'Pause key' together to get to this information.
Problems finding a Device Driver for your Operating System
You may have an old hardware device which is no longer supported by the manufacturer and will not work with your Operating System. You will sometimes find that a similar Operating System's Device driver may work or a search for Drivers for your hardware device and Operating System on Google may help you find a solution.
You can try 'Windows Compatibility Center' on the Microsoft website
by entering the name and model of your hardware device to see if it is compatible with your version of Windows.
Aside from the manufacturer's website there are also some Driver Download sites which may be useful however you should always try the manufacturer's website first. A few websites include Driverguide.com
, and Driverzone.com
If you want to manually install or uninstall a Device Driver then you can do this from 'Device Manager' in the Windows Operating System.
||The Device Manager enables you to manage all the Hardware and Device Drivers on a computer running a Windows Operating System.
As well as detecting any errors with the Hardware you can also manually uninstall or install Device Drivers from here.
You can view details of an installed Device Driver by right-clicking on the device and selecting 'Properties'.
There are various ways to get to the 'Device Manager' See below:
1. Click Start, and enter 'devmgmt.msc' (without the quotes) into the search box, and press 'Enter' on the keyboard.
2. Click Start, right-click on 'Computer' and select 'Manage'. Click on 'Device Manager'.
3. Click Start, select 'Control Panel', click on 'System', and then click on 'Device Manager'.
4. Press the 'Windows key' and the 'Pause key' on the keyboard together. Click on 'Device Manager'.
The 'Device Manager' lists all your hardware devices. If you select a hardware device then right-click on it then you get the option to 'Update Driver Software', 'Disable', or 'Uninstall' the Device Driver. You can also select 'Properties' to get details on the currently installed Device Driver.
If there is a problem with a hardware device then you may see a 'red cross', or 'yellow exclaimation point' next to the hardware device. A 'red cross' means that the device is diabled, and you can easily enable the device by right-clicking on it and selecting 'Enable'. A 'yellow exclaimation point' means there is a problem and you will need to find the 'error code' by right-clicking on the device, and selecting 'Properties'. You can then look up the 'Microsoft Knowledge Base'
to see what the 'error code' means.