Drivers. During the time a person uses a computer there’s a good chance that they will have heard the word drivers at some point or another. Some people know what they are and what they are needed for; others just leave it to professionals, or at least people who are more computer literate.
In this article, we will go over just what exactly are device drivers, what they do and how to find the right drivers for your device.
First of all, let’s define what a device driver actually is:
- A device driver is a piece of software that operates or controls a particular type of device that is attached to a computer. It provides a software interface between the computer and the hardware, allowing an Operating System (and other computer programs) to access hardware functions without needing to know details of the hardware that is being used.
This communication is what makes device drivers so important to a computer, since they simplify programming by acting as a sort of translator for the language used by the hardware installed on a particular computer and the software that is installed on said computer.
The simplification in communication that a device driver offers to a programmer makes it possible for the programmer to concentrate on coding higher level functions for the program instead of trying to see how to make the program communicate with the user’s hardware.
Normally, device drivers are found on either the device itself (with the advent of plug and play architecture) or in a physical storage medium (generally CDs or DVDs).
In order to update drivers on the other hand, the process can be much simpler:
- If you know the manufacturer and make of your device simply head over to the download section of the manufacturer’s website and look for the name of your device and you will surely find the latest version of the drivers you want. Nowadays many companies even have auto-detect tools that identify the hardware you have and point you towards the drivers you need.
- On machines running Windows this process is rather simple, though not exactly fail-proof. Simply:
- a) go to Windows Update.
- b) Choose to review the available updates.
Driver updates are generally there, especially the more critical ones.
- If for some reason windows update does not have the drivers listed, you can always go to the device manager and look for the device that you wish to update:
- a) Right click the name of the device and then selecting properties you will be taken to the device’s properties menu.
- b) Select the Drivers tab and click on “update driver”.
Again, this will not work 100% of the time, but when it does it saves a lot of hassle and looking up the drivers on the internet.
You should also know about signed drivers. How can something that exists only digitally be signed? Well, a digital signature simply entails that there is proof of the validity of a piece of software.
How does it work? Well, there is not one all-encompassing way of digitally signing a piece of software, but we can say this: via cryptography, a digital signature provides not only confirmation of the validity of a program, but also an extra layer of security.
As such, it is ideal if the software you use is digitally signed, and that also applies to drivers. Luckily, since the release of Windows 2000, the Windows Hardware Quality Labs have been checking drivers that are released for Windows platforms and digitally signing the ones that pass inspection.
This gives the user the peace of mind when installing these drivers, since they know that they are compatible with their platform and thus will be free of conflicts or errors.
But what do you do when the drivers you are about to install are not certified? Unfortunately, in this case there’s only one thing you can do: trust the drivers and install them or simply don’t install them.
Here’s how to let unsigned drivers be installed:
- Open Control Panel.
- Select the System Properties icon.
- Switch to Hardware tab, and click the Driver Signing button.
A dialog box opens which has three checkboxes:
- Ignore (allows installing all files, regardless of the file signature)
- Warn (displays a message to the user before installing an unsigned file). This is usually the default setting.
- Block (restricts the installation of unsigned files).
Check the required checkbox and hit OK.
But, if you really want to get all of this done completely hassle free, automatically and easily, you should look no further than SafeBytes DriverAsssist. What can you expect from this handy program? Take a look at some of the most important features:
- Automatic Driver Installation. DriverAssist is an extremely intuitive program that installs all requisites drivers for your PC automatically. You have no need to do anything else with DriverAssist other than install it onto your PC; the sophisticated software does all the work for you.
- Driver Intelligence. DriverAssist is an intelligent program which carefully establishes what the appropriate drivers for your computer programs are. This enables accurate installation and ensures that your PC runs to its optimum level.
- Smart Device Identification. The DriverAssist software is based on sophisticated technology that automatically detects all of the appropriate PC drivers in a matter of seconds. It will then match them with the latest available version, and update every driver required by your system with a compatible version on a regular basis.
- Safe USB Management and Eject. DriverAssist also helps you manage USB devices. There is no need to worry about safely removing hardware with DriverAssist, as it makes the ejecting process and safely removing hardware from your PC extremely straightforward.
- Full Back-up and Restore. Additionally, DriverAssist helps you backup all of your data and restore your machine to the time when it was previously working if you encounter any problems. It really is an ideal package to ensure that your PC runs to its fullest potential.
- 24/7 Customer Service. DriverAssist is a product of SafeBytes, and therefore benefits from the renowned customer service associated with the company. SafeBytes is on call 24/7 to assist you with any problems that you might encounter.