Dwight Watt Newspaper Article #304
Drivers are specialized programs that allow your programs to communicate with hardware or other devices. Without a driver the program could not send information to printers, across the network, or receive data from the keyboard or scanners, etc.
Drivers are small specific programs that allow the software or programs to communicate with all these devices. There are different drivers to install for different devices like printers or scanners. There are also a number of built in drivers with Windows that allow Windows to communicate with these devices. In older versions of Windows you had to install drivers for all hardware. The newer versions of Windows come with drivers for a number of devices so there is less installation or updates of drivers needed.
Generally the drivers are install automatically when you attach the hardware to your machine or you are prompted to enter a CD or download a program from a website and then when you run the CD or program the drivers are installed.
Drivers are updates to allow newer features to be done with the hardware. Unless you want to do the newer features you probably do not need to install new drivers. If you begin having problems with a piece of hardware (for instance your printer) you can usually go to the manufactures web site and look in Support or Drivers and then search by your model of the device and they will list drivers available. A number of companies there will check and see if you have the latest drivers. You usually want to install the latest driver (either newest date or highest number). However watch for them to say latest is beta which means they are testing it, in which case use the previous version.
Now for a warning on drivers. There are a number of questionable companies or bad companies that will advertise on different sites and say that your drivers are bad or need updated. They have not scanned your computer and have no idea. Most of the time their software does not work and it is loaded with spyware and viruses. Ignore them. They are a waste of your money. They can have flashy ads saying x number of bad drivers or Windows approved when they have absolutely nothing with Microsoft and never have seen your machine. They are scams and will mess up your machine. Do not click on them.