What is a driver, you might ask? They’re computer programs that let your computer programs communicate with a hardware device like a video card or sound card. It sounds simple enough, and it should be as it’s done mostly automatically or close to it. It is in your best interest to rely on the manufacturer’s website to keep track of this for you. Windows also has a driver function that’s supposed to keep your video card drivers working but this can be a bit primitive. If you have an Nvidia or ATI/AMD video card, then you should let them do the work for you. The manufacturer websites have registration links so they can keep track of your video cards driver requirements. So it’s essential to register and give them your email so they can let you know when it’s time to update. Just click through.
The other components of your computer, like chipset and motherboard, also have drivers, of course, and that can get a little tricky. You’ll have to go to the manufacturer’s website and look for driver update tabs, or it might just say downloads and you’ll have to click through until you find driver update info. Pay extreme attention to the driver dates and version numbers. You don’t want to update to an old driver.
When buying a component that’s been sitting on a shelf for months or years, expect you’ll be updating drivers. By the time you buy it and open the box, the drivers may be months or even a couple years out of date and you’ll have to update. Motherboards are the most tedious. Ideally, the manufacturer will enclose a CD with all the driver information contained within. The manufacturer may also make you download software onto a thumb drive and update the motherboard manually, which means you might need two computers running at the same time so you can refer back and forth.
Keep in mind this is only for computers you build at home. If you buy a computer ready-made, it’s most likely already updated by the company or store technicians, or they’ll have staff on hand for updating drivers for you as needed. Some websites sell subscriptions that keep track of all your computer drivers and tell you what to do and when if your components are ever out of date. All you have to do is download their software and pay the subscription. There are scam sites that will offer driver updates for free and load up your computer with garbage but you should be able to avoid those if you’re paying attention. You can also pay to have someone come out to your home and do all these things for you entirely. But where’s the adventure in that?
No matter the method, drivers are a necessity of computer operations. Updating drivers are a requirement, but make sure you need it. Sometimes a driver may update with information you don’t need. Occasionally your computer may update drivers automatically and it will malfunction. Windows and Microsoft updates have issues sometimes. You have to roll with it.
Keep in mind that if you buy most any computer or component and plug it in, it will work. How well is anyone’s guess, probably not that well? Look for CD’s and install them. Windows may see the computer or components and do an automatic update if you let it. If you have a video or sound card, go to the respective websites and look for driver updates that should answer your questions. Many manufacturers have support centers operating with trained staff to walk you through any problems.