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Computer 101: Drivers Defined

Wednesday, December 21st, 2016 by | Filed Under: Computer Terms, Hardware & Peripherals, Quick Tips

I say you should never be embarrassed to ask a question, but a reader is. She writes, “I’m ashamed to have to ask this, but what exactly is a driver? I hear the term used about the computer and I understand that they are important and have to be installed and updated. But exactly what are they? You don’t open them like programs, so how do they work?”


Never be ashamed to ask a question. Otherwise, how are you going to learn anything?  At it’s simplest level, a driver is a kind of software that allows a device like a printer, mouse, or WiFi adapter to talk to the operating system of your computer.  The software also allows the operating system to communicate with the device.  The software is often created by the company that manufactures the device, other times it’s created according to a published standard for that operating system.

Not all drivers are tied to specific devices, but for our purposes, we’ll stick to the drivers that help hardware function. Drivers need to be updated because of changes in operating systems and in the functions devices need to perform.

~ Cynthia

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3 Responses to “Computer 101: Drivers Defined”

  1. Chauncey R. Black says:

    Your definition of “drivers” was one of the clearest and easy to understand of the myriad of definitions on the net. Given your style of answering questions and clarifying matters for readers, you would do well to write and publish manuals, that would surely excel, with your simplicity of style and correctness. Thank you for your many answers, explanations, clarity and for your patience.

  2. Bob Curry Sr. says:

    Hi! I’m 86 and had no lessons and need all the help I can get. I’ve read your tips etc. for years now. I’ve also made many purchases from you folks, including the book on Windows 10. Incidentally, I’m getting along quite well with Windows 10 with your assistance. I’ve also used speech recognition for much of my writing for several years, now. Thanks very much for your help over the years. Bob Curry Sr.

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