What are Laptop Drivers?

laptop-driversAll PCs have several devices, which may be permanent features of the machine or may be connected as required. Internal devices include audio cards and disk drives while external devices include printers and scanners that may be connected all the time or digital cameras and MP3 players that are connected occasionally to transfer data between the device and the PC.

There are a large number of devices that may be connected to a PC, with numerous manufacturers adopting different standards and formats for the devices they produce. The problem is that the operating system has to communicate with each device that is connected but the large number of variations means that this is impossible to do so directly.

This problem is overcome by each manufacturer developing device drivers or PC drivers for each of their devices, with separate versions for the different operating systems. These drivers handle the communications between the operating system and the device.  Laptops are simply mobile versions of the previously more common desktop PCs. They have their own devices and so also have device drivers, known specifically as laptop drivers.

Why We Need Laptop Drivers

Since laptops are mobile appliances, they are necessarily smaller versions of their desktop equivalents. This means that all their components have to be smaller and so all the devices installed in a laptop are designed specially for them. A laptop very rarely uses the same components as a desktop PC but instead has miniaturized versions of them.

The outcome of all this is that, since laptops have their own range of devices, they need laptop drivers to make them work. These have similar functionality to desktop device drivers but are designed specifically to work with mobile devices.

Of course, devices such as printers and digital cameras can be connected to a laptop in the same way that they can be connected to a desktop PC. They will have their normal drivers and so a laptop may have a mixture of laptop drivers and standard device drivers installed.

Why You Need to Update Laptop Drivers

In the same way as for a desktop PC, a laptop and all its components work best if everything is correctly installed and up-to-date. This includes all the device drivers and laptop drivers for the various devices.
If you experience problems or poor performance, these can sometimes be corrected by re-installing or updating the drivers. The procedure for doing this is the same for the laptop drivers and the standard device drivers, only the source of the new drivers is different.

To install new drivers, access the Device Manager. Depending on the operating system you use, this may be available from the Control Panel or by right-clicking My Computer, choosing Manage and then Device Manager to list the types of device in the right pane. Right click each device and click Properties, then click the Driver tab to see details of the installed laptop driver.

Click the Update Driver button to download drivers and install the latest version on your PC. When you complete the process, you may be prompted to restart your computer. Choose to do this only when you have completed the process for all drivers.

You can update drivers individually by visiting the device manufacturer’s website and following the instructions there to do it. However, you will need to identify each device first through System Tools. If the whole process seems a bit long-winded, the alternative is to use a dedicated service that will download and update drivers automatically.

There are several of this type of service available and each one will generally hold a comprehensive database that contains the latest versions of all device drivers. Once you have the necessary software installed, it will identify the devices you have connected and the version of the driver for each one. A scheduled process will then download drivers as later versions become available and install them automatically. This ensures that you always have the latest version of device drivers installed, avoiding problems and making sure your computer and its devices operate efficiently together.

Add comment November 5th, 2009

What are Printer Drivers?

drivers for your printerEvery PC has several device drivers or PC drivers installed, each of which controls a particular device. These devices may be fitted into the computer (a sound card or disk drive) or be connected to it (a broadband router or scanner). Since there may be many devices of different types, it is impossible for the operating system to communicate with them all directly as each has different characteristics.

To overcome this problem, a device driver sits between a device and the operating system, translating operating system requests so the device can understand them. Device responses are similarly converted into a form suitable for the operating system. One of the most commonly connected devices is a printer. Communication with the printer is by a type of device driver known as a printer driver.

Why We Need Printer Drivers

Printers come in a variety of types, from the outdated dot matrix printers to the more modern colour and monochrome laser printers and ink jet printers. Printing devices also come in other forms, including plotters and fax machines that can be connected to a PC. The common feature is that all create printed output and all need the content and format of that output to be communicated to them. The way the format of the output is described may vary, with PostScript printers being common and all having a Printer Description Language that defines the output.

Printing from a Windows-based computer is via a print spooler and printer drivers. Output for printing is created by an application program and sent to the operating system. This will create high level print instructions that are sent to the printer driver for conversion into a form that the printer that is actually being used understands. This is then either sent directly to the printer or to the print spooler for later printing. The printer will then send a response to indicate if printing was successful and this is converted by the printer driver so that the operating system knows what it means. The availability of printer drivers, therefore, means that the operating system can organise all required printing without needing to know anything about the device that will actually do it.

Dealing with Common Printer Problems

Although there is a wide range of printing devices, there are some printer errors that are common to most of them. Some of these may be accompanied by a displayed error code and message, which will vary between printers. In the case of a networked printer, if no-one can print, the problem is with the printer. However, if only you are having difficulties, it’s likely to be at your end.

1. Printer Not Printing
First check the basics. Make sure the printer is plugged in, turned on and has not run out of paper or ink. If the print job is being processed but nothing is being output, it may be a big job. Give it time and, if nothing happens, cancel the job and try again. If the job won’t cancel, turn off the printer for a minute, then turn back on and try again. This will clear any input/output errors.
At the Windows Start menu, select Settings then Printers and right click the one giving the problem. Make sure it isn’t paused or set offline. If this doesn’t fix the problem, reboot your PC and try again.

2. Paper Jam
Sometimes paper gets stuck as it is going through the printer. In this case, follow the instructions for your printer to clear the jam. Remove the paper very carefully to avoid damage. If the error remains when all the paper is out, turn the printer off and then on again after one minute.

3. Poor Printing Quality
If output is blurred or faded, the print cartridge may be out of ink. Check and replace.

4. Software Problems
If the printer fails to work only for a particular application, the problem may be due to that application or the file it is creating. Try to print a different file or close the application, reboot and try again. If that fails, you could try to re-install the application.

5. Printer Drivers
Sometimes, printer problems result from faulty printer drivers. In this case, install the latest drivers by accessing Device Manager. Depending on the operating system you use, this may be available from the Control Panel or by right-clicking My Computer then choosing Manage.

Device Manager will list the types of device in the right pane and you need to open Ports and select the Printer Port. Select the Driver tab and click the Update Driver button to download drivers for the port and install the latest version on your PC. When you complete the process, restart your computer.

You can also install the latest driver for the printer itself by selecting Printers at the Control Panel, right clicking the problem printer, selecting Properties and then clicking New Driver at the Advanced tab. If this doesn’t solve the problem, uninstall and re-install the printer by right clicking the printer and choosing to delete it. Then right click the Printers heading, choose Add Printer and follow the prompts.

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