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Nothing beats the smell of a new computer peripheral, but before you can use it, you need to install the proper drivers to your PC. Without them, the computer peripherals won’t work and end up being an expensive paperweight. But that’s not all. You have to keep it updated, too.

What is a Driver?

In short, a driver is just software. Imagine bringing home a new GPU (graphics processing unit) for your computer. You install the GPU properly, but your computer doesn’t recognize that it even exists. This is because the software needed, the drivers, aren’t present. It needs those drivers in order to work with your computer.

Android devices, for example, require a driver to be installed to your computer if you have any intention of using Android’s SDK tools. When you go to fire up your SDK tools and search for your Android device, your computer won’t realize it’s there.

Most of the time, though, computer peripherals will install drivers as soon as you plug them in, like headsets, keyboards and a computer mouse. You really won’t have to worry about installing drivers for those, but ultimately, it will depend on the piece of equipment.

Installing Drivers from a CD

In some cases, the drivers needed for a device to work are placed on a CD. You toss the CD into your CD drive and follow the necessary steps provided. However, it should be noted that using a CD to install drivers will probably require you to update afterwards. Since the drivers placed on the CD are from a specific build, it could be outdated by the time you use it.

Installing Drivers to Your PC

Before you can install any drivers, ones that aren’t installed right out of the box, you’ll need access to a safe and secure network connection. The process of installing drivers pulls the necessary files from the internet.

1. Plug in or properly install the device into your computer.

manufacturers website

2. Head to the device’s parent homepage. Most, if not all, computer peripherals have driver support linked on their manufacturer’s website.

As you can see in the image above, NVIDIA graphics cards have up-to-date drivers ready for download on NVIDIA’s website.

download drivers

3. Download the drivers to your computer. Click DOWNLOAD. You should get an .EXE file.

run exe file

4. Double-click the .EXE provided by the download link and click Run. Follow the installation guide provided by the .EXE.

Updating Drivers on Your PC

1. Locate and open the Windows Start Menu. Its icon is the Microsoft Windows logo. In its default position, it’s in the bottom left corner of the screen.

  • Most PC keyboards have a dedicated Windows key. You can press that, too, to open the Windows Start Menu.

open control panel

2. Type anywhere in the Windows Start Menu “control panel” and click the application when it shows up in the search results.

hardware and sound

3. In Control Panel, click on Hardware and Sound. It’s on the left hand side of the window.

device manager

4. In Hardware and Sound, at the very top is Devices and Printers. Just below it is Device Manager. Go ahead and click it. Doing so will open an additional window.

update driver

5. Among the list of currently installed devices, find a device you’d like to update. Right click the device. It will open a drop down menu.

6. In the drop down menu, click Update driver. It will prompt a window.

7. In the new window, you have to options to choose from:

  • Search automatically for updated driver software: Choosing this option will search your computer for any driver software updates, but more importantly, it will scour the internet for sanctioned driver updates. Meaning, it won’t pull a software update from a random person.
  • Browse my computer for driver software: If you already have the software downloaded, then this is the option you want. It will only search your computer for driver updates.

8. If you chose the first option, you’ll be provided with the option to download and install an update to the drivers. Or, alternatively, you’ll get a message that the best driver has already been installed. In other words, it’s up-to-date.

search for driver update

9. If you chose the second option, to search your computer, you’ll need to provide the location of the file by clicking Browse. Continue the update by clicking Next.