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Windows XP Annoyances for Geeks, 2nd Edition by David A. Karp

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Dealing with Drivers and Other Tales of Hardware Troubleshooting

A driver is the software that allows your computer—and all of its applications—to work with a hardware device, such as a printer or video adapter. That way, for example, each word processor doesn't need to be preprogrammed with the details of all available printers (like in the early days of PCs). Instead, Windows manages a central database of drivers, silently directing the communication between all your applications and whatever drivers are required to complete the task at hand.

Warning

Let's get one thing straight before we begin: if it ain't broke, don't fix it. Many problems are actually caused by people looking for problems to solve. For example, installing a new driver just for the sake of having the "latest and greatest" version on your system may introduce new bugs or uncover some bizarre incompatibility. This doesn't mean that updating your drivers isn't a good idea, but you'll typically only want to do this if something isn't working or performing at its best.

Problems arise when a driver is buggy or outdated, or when one of the files that comprise a driver is missing or corrupted. Outdated drivers designed either for a previous version of Windows or a previous version of the device can create problems. Additionally, manufacturers must continually update their drivers to fix incompatibilities and bugs that surface after the product is released. It's usually a good idea to make sure you have the latest drivers ...

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