It is better known as a driver, device driver, or hardware driver than a group of files that allow one or more hardware devices to communicate with a computer’s operating system. Without drivers, your computer would not be able to properly send and receive data to hardware devices such as printers.
What devices need drivers?
Hardware devices that are not recognized by the operating system or have features that the operating system does not recognize all require drivers. Below is a list of hardware and peripherals that require drivers.
- Card reader
- Motherboard chipset
- Network card
- Sound card
- Tape drive
- USB devices
- Video card
What devices may not need drivers?
Operating systems today have many generic drivers that can operate hardware at a standard level without the need for drivers or software. However, if this device contains features that the operating system does not know, it will not work without drivers. For example, you can plug any keyboard into your computer and expect it to work. However, if this keyboard contains special keys or functions, it will not work until the drivers are installed.
- Disc drive
- Hard drive
- Heat sink
- Power supply
- Thumb drive
What Happens if a Driver is not Installed?
If the appropriate driver is not installed, the device may not work properly. With some devices, the device may work, but not all of its components may work. For example, a computer mouse usually works without drivers, but if it has more buttons than a traditional mouse, those additional buttons will not work until the drivers are installed.
For Microsoft Windows users, missing drivers can cause a driver conflict or a device manager error. If there are any problems or conflicts with the drivers, the computer manufacturer or the hardware manufacturer will issue a driver update to resolve the issues. After updating the drivers, you need to install the drivers to replace the existing driver code.
Can a Driver Make My Computer do More?
Driver installation ensures that the hardware installed in your computer works properly. If the correct driver is not installed, installing the latest hardware driver can take full advantage of the device. However, you cannot install a driver for hardware that is not installed on your computer and expect your computer to be faster or more efficient. In other words, installing video card drivers for a video card that is not installed on your computer does not provide your computer with all the capabilities of that video card. In this example, you will need to install the video card hardware and video card drivers.
Are Computer Drivers Free?
Almost all computer and hardware manufacturers provide free drivers, updates, and software for their devices. You can find a list of direct links to the websites of all companies on our Computer Drivers page.
However, companies that no longer do business or products that are no longer supported may no longer provide free drivers. In this situation, third-party companies may host and offer drivers but pay for them.
Are Computer Drivers Safe?
If a driver that you download from a trusted source, such as the device manufacturer, is considered safe. If you need to download a driver from a third party, it’s hard to tell if the driver code has changed. Unfortunately, like any computer software, drivers can be infected with viruses and other malware. We recommend that you install and run an antivirus program on your computer before downloading and installing a third-party driver.
What if I Download the Wrong Driver?
If you accidentally download the wrong driver and try to install it on your computer, the installation will fail. However, it is possible to install a driver for a device that does not. Even if you do this, you will only see errors about devices that are not known, or you will see problems on the left device in Device Manager. Installing the wrong driver on a working computer will not cause it to stop working. However, removing the working device and then installing the wrong drivers can cause problems.