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Device driver

Device driver definition

A device driver is software that allows your computer’s operating system to communicate with a hardware device (such as a printer or a keyboard). It works like a translator between your computer’s operating system and what you plug into it — whether it’s a mouse, a printer, or a scanner.

With the device driver’s help, your computer can understand and interact with keyboards, USB sticks, mice, and other devices — helping these devices function properly and letting you use their features.

See also: computer system

How device drivers work

  • When you want to use a hardware device, you send a request to your computer’s operating system. A device driver translates your request from the language the OS understands into the specific language the hardware device understands.
  • The device driver acts as a messenger, passing your request to the hardware device.
  • The device driver helps the operating system control the hardware device by telling it what to do and how. For example, when you press a key on your keyboard, the device driver ensures the right letter appears on the screen.
  • Different hardware devices are built by different manufacturers and might work in slightly different ways. Device drivers help ensure that the hardware device works smoothly with your specific operating system, no matter who made it.
  • Device drivers can be updated to fix bugs, improve performance, or add new features. When you install updates for your device drivers, you get improved translations and better communication between your hardware and software.
  • Sometimes, multiple hardware devices need to work together. Device drivers coordinate this interaction, ensuring that everything functions harmoniously.