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Driver Data

Sandra Prior
Jul 21, 2008
Your PC has a number of hardware components that need to communicate with each other and with the programs you're using. This can get tricky, simply because there are quite a few components that make up a computer. Some of these components may perform similar tasks at any given time, which means that the system needs to be able to distinguish between them and to activate the correct piece of hardware at the correct time.

Others may work in conjunction with each other and need to be able to communicate properly with one another. All this is managed through driver files that are written specifically for your operating system, much like a multilingual dictionary, which allows the operating system to act as a translator and a mediator for your hardware.

While it may sound simple enough, bear in mind that a single piece of hardware may be used on a system that is running one of many operating systems, and could have literally any configuration. Hardware manufacturers write drivers for as many operating systems as they can, and as quickly as they can, which means that there is always room for improvement in the coding of a driver.

It also means that errors can occur and that a driver may not be compatible with a certain arrangement of hardware or software. In short, it's worth knowing how to check and update your drivers.

For most people, the first time they will come across the concept of a driver is when they buy a new piece of hardware and are prompted to install the drivers. Sometimes windows has its own set of drivers for the hardware, and separate disks are not required. Other times, if a better driver can't be found, windows comes with a standard driver. However, neither option is ideal, partly because the driver windows has for your hardware, may not be the most recent one and will probably not be ideal for your hardware.

Even worse, the windows driver may be thoroughly incompatible with your hardware. In most cases, you will want to install at least the drivers that came with the hardware, but even here you may discover incompatibilities. The good news is that there are a number of ways in which to combat these problems.

The Right Tools

The first thing you need to do is ensure that you are using the correct drivers for your hardware. Check and confirm this by browsing through the device manager and check the properties of all your hardware. All the components that make up your system should be listed. Double click on any particular component to check whether or not it is functioning properly, or whether or not it is in conflict with another device.

You can also check which drivers are being used and confirm whether or not they match your hardware. You can also check the resources the device is using. The driver file itself usually determines these settings, although they can be tweaked to eliminate incompatibilities with other hardware. Sometimes these settings need to match certain jumper configurations, so it's a good idea to refer to the manual that came with the hardware to ensure that these settings are appropriate for your particular configuration. You may even discover that you can squeeze better performance from a device - even if it seems to be working properly - by tweaking driver settings.

Remove and Install

If you're struggling to get a device driver to function properly, and you have tried tweaking its resource settings to avoid conflicts, try removing the driver and reinstalling it. In some cases the hardware vendor might provide you with an executable file that performs the installation automatically. More often than not, you have to perform the installation manually.

If you have removed the device from the device manager, you may want to try using the hardware installation wizard in the control panel, under add new hardware. When the wizard detects your hardware, use the have disk option to browse for the driver files on the disk supplied by your hardware vendor.

Once those have been located, the hardware will be installed and you can restart your computer to check that it's functional. It's a good idea to remove all the hardware listed in the device manager, and to reinstall each device after a reboot. This way, windows gets the chance to iron out any potential incompatibilities.

If you are still experiencing problems, you need to find out if there are any known incompatibilities with your hardware combination, or whether or not there are any bugs in your driver software.
About the Author
Subscribe to Sandra Prior's Online Newsletter and get up to date Computer Technology News delivered right to your email box for free. See website for details http://usacomputers.rr.nu and http://sacomputers.rr.nu.
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