What are drivers? Understand what they are and how they work on PCs

You’ve most likely encountered installing or activating drivers when connecting a mouse, printer, or other peripherals to your computer, and you’ll receive a notification shortly thereafter that the device is ready to use. But what is a driver? Why are they installed? These and more questions are answered in this article.

  • What is hardware?
  • What is software?
  • What is widget?

What are drivers?

Putting down, the driver is a small program that enables your computer’s operating system can communicate with the device connected to it. Basically it makes a mouse, a printer and other components can be interpreted by the system and perform their actions correctly.

If you try to use a device without the driver installed, it is very likely that it does not work correctly or that it does not work at all, as your computer will not identify and interpret the commands coming from the connected hardware.

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In short: the driver is a kind of translator, allowing communication to be made between hardware (device) and software (system).

(Photo: Axville/Unsplash)

Do I need to install new drivers?

Currently extremely popular operating systems, such as Windows, have a long list of generic and almost universal drivers, allowing a device identified as a mouse, keyboard, camera or other be recognized without the need to install a specific driver downloaded from the manufacturer’s website.

Still, such drivers may be limited. If you are connecting a mouse with several buttons and exclusive commands or a printer with very specific functionalities, compatibility problems may exist.

For cases like these, it is recommended to install the software provided by the manufacturer computer/notebook so it can update the necessary drivers. Another alternative is to go to the website of the manufacturer of the hardware that is not being recognized and look for the latest drivers.

As the most popular operating system, Windows includes hundreds of factory drivers (Image: Screenshot/Victor Carvalho)

When to update the drivers? As said, a standard Windows driver does not usually use the full capacity of the connected device due to its generic nature, guaranteeing only immediate operation.

The same happens with new video cards are installed on computers. Windows identifies the manufacturer and makes available a driver that guarantees basic support, but that will limit its potential.

For these cases it is highly recommended that users look for the latest driver on the manufacturer’s website , ensuring that the system and games can render essential elements and extract the full capacity of the card.

Video cards require latest drivers for better performance and compatibility (Image: Playback/NVIDIA)

How to update the driver?

Reading this article you should already have have noticed the emphasis we have on downloading new drivers only from the websites of the device or computer manufacturer. This is because many other sites take advantage of the lack of knowledge of more lay users to install programs that can compromise performance and, more importantly, device and user security.

Like this, we reinforce once again: download and update drivers only from official websites.

Driver and drive: what’s the difference?

Finally, out of curiosity, we can sometimes come across a very interesting question: what is the difference between driver and drive? And the answer is simpler than you might think.



(with the letter “r” at the end) is exactly the translator program we have detailed in this article, which allows software and hardware to communicate.

Already one drive (without the letter “r”) refers to storage units, that is: internal or external memories such as HD, SSD, pendrive and cards memory, as well as discs such as CD, DVD and Blu-Ray.

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