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What Is a Device Driver?


The term “hardware driver” refers to a small piece of software that advises the operating system and other programmes on how to connect with a particular piece of hardware.

In addition to instructing the operating system, and by extension whatever programme the object you wish to print is now open in, printer drivers can also include those that advise the printer on how to print specific information on a sheet of paper.

Read Also: How to Install Windows 10 From USB Drive

Cards and Drivers

So that your operating system understands exactly how to transform the 1s and 0s that make up an MP3 file into audio signals, sound card drivers are required. These audio signals are then delivered to your headphones or speakers through your headphones or speakers.

The same fundamental concept holds true for video cards, keyboards, displays, mouse, disc drives, and other peripherals. For more information on why drivers are vital, including further instances, read on. You’ll also find information on how to keep your drivers up to date, as well as what to do if your drivers aren’t operating correctly.

How Do Device Drivers Work?

To think of device drivers as translators between a programme you’re running and a device the programme needs to make use of in some way, consider the following: It is necessary to use a translator (the driver) to allow the software and the hardware to interact because they were built by separate persons or firms and speak two entirely different languages.

Using this in mind, a software programme can supply information to a driver in order to describe what it wants a piece of hardware to perform, information that the device driver understands and can subsequently implement with the hardware.

Device Drivers and Compatibility

In part due to the existence of device drivers, the majority of software applications no longer require knowledge of how to communicate directly with hardware, and a driver no longer requires the inclusion of a full application experience for users to engage with. Instead, both the application and the driver just need to understand how to communicate with one another.

When you consider that there is an almost limitless supply of software and hardware available, this is a fairly excellent deal for everyone concerned. If everyone had to be able to interact with everyone else, the process of developing software and hardware would be very difficult to do.

How to Manage Device Drivers

It is possible to manage the drivers for any piece of hardware in your Windows computer from a centralized location using Device Manager, which is accessible in all Microsoft Windows editions.

The vast majority of the time, drivers are installed automatically and require no more care, with the exception of the odd update to repair issues or add a fun new feature to the system. This is true for some Windows drivers that are obtained through the Windows Update service.

The obligation for installing driver updates falls on your shoulders when a manufacturer releases a new version of a driver. Some firms provide tools that will check for and install any appropriate updates, but the majority of organizations do not make it as simple as that.

Fortunately, there are several free driver updater tools available that do the same function and are compatible with all types of driver. Similar to Windows Update, some applications will even look for updates on your behalf, download and install them on your behalf.

When a Device Driver Is or Isn’t Necessary

Beyond the fundamental software-driver-hardware interaction, there are a number of different scenarios that include drivers (and others that do not) that are both fascinating and instructive to consider.

This is less frequent these days, but there is some software that is capable of communicating directly with certain types of hardware without the need for drivers. Nonetheless, this is only achievable when the software is delivering relatively basic commands to the hardware, or when both the programme and the hardware were designed by the same business; however, this may also be considered of as a type of built-in driver scenario.

Different Types of Device Drivers

Some drivers connect with a device directly, whereas others are stacked on top of one another. The application will interact with one driver before that driver connects with another, and so on until the last driver actually conducts the direct contact with the hardware, which is the case in most cases.

It is common for these “middle” drivers to perform no function at all, save for ensuring that the other drivers are functioning properly. Regardless of whether there is a single driver or a group of drivers operating in a “stack,” everything is done in the background without you having to know or participate in anything.

.SYS Files

Windows makes use of SYS files are classified as loadable device drivers, which means they may be loaded only when they’re needed, rather than always taking up memory space—other drivers are in the DLL or EXE format. The same may be said about Linux as well. Modules for the KO (kernel).


WHQL (Windows Hardware Quality Level) is a testing technique developed by Microsoft to ensure that a certain device driver will function with a specific version of Windows. You may see that a driver you’re downloading is or isn’t WHQL certified depending on your operating system.

Virtual Device Drivers

The virtual device driver is another type of driver that may be used. These files are often saved with the VXD file extension and are used in conjunction with virtualization software. The virtual drivers function in the same way as regular drivers, but in order to prevent the guest operating system from directly accessing hardware, the virtual drivers masquerade as real hardware, allowing the guest operating system and its own drivers to access hardware in the same way that non-virtual operating systems do.

As a result, virtual guest operating systems and their drivers interface with virtual hardware through virtual device drivers, which are then relayed to the real, physical hardware by the host operating system. This is in contrast to how a host operating system and its drivers interface with actual hardware components.



Why do you need device drivers?

Purpose. One of the primary functions of device drivers is to offer abstraction by serving as a translator between an external hardware device and the programmes or operating systems that make use of it. It is possible for programmers to build higher-level application code that is not reliant on the exact hardware that the end user is utilizing.

Do all devices require device drivers?

It is critical for a computer to have all of the necessary device drivers installed in order for the system to function properly. Several device drivers are given by the manufacturers from the beginning, and we may afterwards incorporate any more device drivers that are necessary for our system.