It is the unglamorous side of computer usage, but unfortunately you may benefit from having an understanding of device drivers. This requires a bit more digging beyond the standard manuals and your internet search. The files that we are talking about are critical not only for the function of the computer, but also the devices that you add to it. Some of the functions that would not be possible without these drivers are printing, music (playing and listening), video, icons, pictures and the mouse. All these are activities that we now rightly consider to be essential to the PC user experience.

The device driver is a system files that is designed to translate all the commands that you send into formats that can be easily understood by the device or attachment that you are trying to control. Needless to say; these commands are quite complex when you try to break them down into their constituent parts. Hence the lack of a functional device driver will cause the system to fail and may even lead to long term damage.

Unfortunately, few people pay attention to them until something goes seriously wrong. By then a lot of time will have been lost or alternatively, damage will already have been done to the system.

The operation of device drivers

Let us consider the seemingly simple process of printing. The text that you input into the computer has very many components. The printer may not be able to understand the commands that you send to it, unless they have been broken down into specific processes. The device driver saves you the hassle of writing down every step of the way. The importance of these drivers becomes even clearer when working with games and other rich media. Graphics would be impossible to handle without these helpers.

In other words, you can look at your drivers as interpreters of information. It is notable that every single driver has specific purposes, but there are some which are capable of peripatetic functionality. A case in point is the older printer that is able to work even if the correct driver is not available, as long as there is a suitable alternative.

The manufacturers of hardware and attachments normally will also create the right software package, so that you do not have to worry about device drivers. However, like in many things, mistakes will happen. Sometimes it is your fault for failing to update the programs in a timely fashion. At other times, you are merely dealing with a faulty driver. The search for the right pair can be exhausting. Hence the recent times have seen a move towards using device driver managers, which are able to fish out any hidden drivers and also match them up to the database that is maintained online.

The manufacturers of operating system such as Microsoft are getting in on the act as well because they allow you to download updates and trigger the system into doing some important maintenance work.

The future of device drivers

The improvement that is pending is the ability to easily identify and update a single device manager that can undertake a multiplicity of activities. This is still a pipe dream at the moment.