driver repair logoLast time, in our continuing discussion on how to fix a slow computer, we showed how to repair an out of date Windows operating system. We noted that, although this is unlikely to solve your computer’s slowness, it has been recommended by others and is extremely easy to perform – therefore, you might as well try it. Plus, it is always wise to update Windows for security reasons (Computer Repair Vancouver recommends that you try to keep your security measures up to date to prevent the latest malicious software).

Today we are going to look at drivers. We will begin by discussing what drivers are then move onto how you would repair corrupt or out of date drivers.

Drivers

You may or may not have heard of a computer driver. This is because generally when you buy a new computer the appropriate drivers are already installed onto your computer. Consequently, you don’t need to worry about what they are, nor do you need to worry about how to install them onto your computer.

So what exactly are drivers? Drivers are small programs which are used to bridge the communication gap between your hardware and your software. Computer Repair Vancouver tends to think of them as translators. They take a bunch of information (given to them by your operating system) and translate it into information (readable by a specific piece of hardware).

Generally, in modern day computing, you need a unique driver for each piece of hardware in your PC, as well as the external devices you attach to your machine. Furthermore, drivers are generally unique to each operating system. How about an example to elucidate what we are talking about?

Let’s say you have a Seagate hard drive (Seagate is a large manufacturer of hard drives, in case you weren’t aware) and you are running Windows Vista. By default, Windows Vista and your Seagate hard drive speak different languages; they are unable to communicate with each other. However, with the appropriate driver (likely provided by the Seagate Company) they can communicate through the use of an intermediary. Now what happens if you decide to upgrade your computer to Windows 7? At this point you will likely need a new driver (remember that drivers are usually specific to a piece of hardware and a specific operating system). Once again, the Seagate Company will likely provide, via their website, drivers for Windows 7 as well.

The one time when you will surely need to install drivers is when you completely reformat your PC. See, when you erase your hard drive and then reinstall the operating system (using the CDs or DVDs you got with your computer), Windows places a few bare bone drivers on your computer. This is so that you have basic video and network capabilities. However, it would be impossible for the Windows installation CD or DVD to contain all the possible drivers for all the possible pieces of hardware out there. This is why, after a fresh installation, you generally need to go and download all your drivers again. Sounds like a bit of a length process. It is; however, Computer Repair Vancouver has found that some companies that package computers (like Dell) actually provide a driver CD when you buy your new machine. Consequently, you can simply use this CD to install all your drivers again. This is much simpler than heading onto the Internet after having spent hours trying to determine the hardware components in your system.

Repair Corrupt or Out of Date Drivers

Now that we have provided a brief overview of what a driver is, you may be beginning to realize why a driver problem can cause a slow computer. Just like a human translator who is having problems, a computer driver which is having problems will prevent efficient communication between parts of your PC. This will inevitably lead to slowdown or worse.

In general, these types of problems can be solved fairly easily by either: repairing a corrupt driver or updating a working driver. The only issue is that you generally don’t know is: which drivers are corrupt or out of date. Therefore, it can become a bit of a guessing game (which can take some time). If you don’t want to spend a great deal of time dealing with drivers, just see if you can update your hard drive driver (as this would be one of the more likely culprits with regards to a slow computer).

Repairing Computer Drivers Automatically

If your computer happened to come with a driver CD then the process for repairing your drivers is very easy. Simply pop in the CD and follow the instructions. Generally, you have to double click on the driver, at which point it will be installed onto your computer. If the process it a little more complicated, step by step instructions are usually provided. As mentioned above, Computer Repair Vancouver finds Dell driver CDs to be some of the easiest to use. If you have a Dell, all you have to do is pop in your CD, select the device whose driver you want to install, and then install it (through a few simple button clicks).

If you wish to update your drivers (to a version newer than that on the CD) then head down to the section below.

Repairing Computer Drivers Manually

Most computers don’t come with driver CDs; consequently you will have to install and/or update your drivers manually. Here is how we go about doing itt:

  1. Find out the type of hardware device that is inside your computer. This can be a little tricky; however, your user manual will likely list this type of information. For our example let’s say that we are looking to install a graphics card driver. Furthermore, let’s assume that we determined, by looking in our user manual, that we have a GeForce GTX 580 graphics card.
  2. Head to Google and type in “product + drivers”. In our example we would go to Google and type in “GeForce GTX 580 drivers” (without the quotation marks).
  3. Look for a reputable site. Since the GeForce graphics card is made by the NVidia company, we would look for a link from the Nvidia company.
  4. Find the driver for the operating system you are currently running. Since we are running Windows 7 – we would look, within the site we chose in step 3, for the Windows 7 version of the GeForce GTX 580 driver.
  5. Download the driver to your desktop. If the driver is zipped/compressed then unzip it.
  6. Click on the Windows start menu (circle in the bottom left corner of the screen)
  7. Right click on Computer and select Properties.
  8. Select Device Manager on the left side of the window.
  9. Click the arrow next to the device you are attempting to update. Since we want to upgrade our video card we would click on the arrow next to Display adapters. If you are updating your hard drive driver then click on the arrow next to Disk Drives. If nothing is listed then head to the Other devices section and click on the arrow (and look for the appropriate item within there – if you are looking for a graphics card then look for an item which has graphics or video in the name).
  10. 10) Right click on the device (the row that popped up after you clicked the arrow – in step 9) and select Update Driver Software
  11. Click on Browse my computer for driver software.
  12. Click on Let me pick from a list of device drivers on my computer.
  13. Click on Have disk.
  14. Click on Browse and find the files you downloaded in step 5. Select the appropriate file from within this folder (Windows will only let you choose the INF file – a special information file) and then click Open.
  15. Click on OK.
  16. Select the driver which was just added to the list (it will likely be the topmost item)
  17. Click on Next.
  18. At this point the driver will be installed/updated. If Windows complains that this driver is not official just say that is ok (since we got the driver from the companies website – everything should be safe).
  19. Restart your computer.

As you can see, reinstalling or updating drivers manually is a fairly lengthy process. However, Computer Repair Vancouver finds that doing it the first time is always the toughest. Once you have installed one set of the drivers, the second set is much easier.

What’s next?

If you have updated your drivers (particularly your hard drive drivers) and you don’t notice your computer acting much faster, it is time to move onto the next potential cause of a slow computer – bad hardware components.

In a matter of a week or two, Computer Repair Vancouver will continue our analysis by showing you how to determine if bad hardware is causing you problem. Furthermore, we will look at how to repair bad hardware components (whenever possible).