What is a Driver?
A driver is a small piece of software that controls a device. Every device, whether it be a printer, disk drive, or keyboard must have a driver. Many drivers, such as the keyboard driver come with the operating system. For other devices, you may need to load a new driver when you connect the device to your computer. In DOS and Windows systems, drivers are files with a .sys extension. In Windows environments, drivers can also have a .drv or .vxd extension.
A driver acts like a translator between the device and programs that use the device. Each device has its own set of specialized commands that only its driver knows. In contrast, most programs access devices by using generic commands. The driver, therefore, accepts generic commands from a program and then translates them into specialized commands for the device.
How do I install new drivers?
Most driver files will come in a zip format. The first thing you will need to do is extract the zip file to a folder on your computer. Any new folder on the desktop, or on the C: drive will work just fine. If the downloaded file is an executable .exe file, it often will automatically extract itself to a folder on your computer, make note of that directory to use when you tell Windows where the new driver is located. Within that zip file there will be a text document contain instructions on how to install it. Sometimes it is a file called SETUP that you merely need to click on to install. In some cases, you need to install the driver manually by doing the following:
- Right click on "my computer"
- Choose "properties"
- Choose "device manager" (In Windows 2000, you have to choose the "hardware" tab first and then "device manager"). This will display a list of the devices that are on your computer.
- Right click on the device and click "properties".
- Choose "driver" and click "update driver"
- You will be asked to browse for the new driver, locate the folder you placed it in choose the appropriate file.
Is there an easy way to search for the latest drivers for my hardware devices?
Yes. MrDriver has teamed up with a new and innovative company, Touchstone Software, that scans all of your system drivers and compares those to a database of over 100,000 drivers to see if your system has the latest drivers. Best of all the scan is free!
How do I know I have a driver problem?
There can be several things that indicate you have a problem with your drivers. The first, and most obvious is that a particular piece of hardware is not working at all, or is working in a generic mode (like low resolution video). Other indications of a driver problem can be occasional failure or improper functioning of hardware (like network disconnecting). Sometimes, having the wrong driver installed, or having a driver that is poorly written can cause your entire PC to become unstable, and freeze, lock-up, or restart on its own. It is a fairly easy thing to uninstall and reinstall drivers, so it is definitely worth a try if you are experiencing any of these problems.
How do I find the right driver for my hardware?
Finding the right driver for a piece of hardware can be a challenge sometimes. Thanks to websites like MrDriver.com, finding the drivers you need is now much easier! If you don't know the specific model or manufacturer of your hardware, you can browse through different categories of hardware until you spot what you need. MrDriver.com also has an integrated search function to look up drivers by device or manufacturer.
How do I find out the manufacturer and model details for my hardware?
Most hardware is labeled both with the model and manufacturer of the device. If it is an external piece of hardware, like a printer, or a scanner, if the make and model are not immediately present, look on the back or bottom of the device. Internal hardware is also often labeled, with the make and model printed right onto the cards that plug into your computer. You will need to open up your computer to find these out though, which usually only requires a philips (+) screwdriver, and a few minutes of time. Another way to identify the hardware you have is to see what Windows already knows it has. If you run Windows XP, the 'system information' can be found under the 'Start' menu, then 'Programs', then 'accessories' then 'system tools'. Also, looking under the System icon in the Control panel will list the installed devices, depending on the version of Windows that you run, in a tab labeled 'hardware' or 'devices', it will be obvious to see.
Why won't any driver from a manufacturer work on all of their devices?
Drivers are specific to the individual piece of hardware. Sometimes even different revisions of a piece of hardware (version 1.1 versus version 1.2) will require completely different drivers. This is because drivers are pieces of software built specifically to work with one piece of hardware. If the hardware changes, the software also has to change. Some manufacturers will chose to bundle their drivers into one large file, but that usually makes the file extremely large, which could take hours or even days to download. Sometimes, a driver that is for a piece of hardware that is "close" to the same thing will work, but it is always preferrable to use the 100% correct driver.
I've got an old piece of hardware and can't find the driver anywhere!
That's where MrDriver.com comes in: we archive as many drivers as we can find, new and old so that someone looking for a specific driver can find what they need. We also have a support forum where you can request that we find a specific driver that is not in the database. Search on our search page, or browse through our hardware categories. You will find drivers organized by manufacturer. We also have links to manufacturer's websites, phone numbers, and other contact info, if all else fails.!
The driver I downloaded does not have a setup program, how do I install it?
Some drivers will come in a zip or cab file. If they do, follow the directions above for the previous question. If the driver is contained within a cab file, many compression-extraction programs (like WinZip) will be able to extract the files from the cab file as if it were a zip file.