When should you update your drivers?

Software drivers can seem complicated and confusing to the average PC user. Why does a computer need these things to function properly? The answer is quite simple. A software driver is like a translator between your OS (Operating System) and the hardware device. Your operating system alone could not “know” how to control all of the hundreds of thousands of unique hardware available on the market, and this is where drivers come in.

Some simple devices, like a computer mouse or keyboard, usually work without any special drivers (although some unique features, like programmable buttons, will be disabled until you install the appropriate software from the manufacturer). On the other hand, more complex hardware, like your video card, needs the correct drivers or it won’t work properly.

Once you’ve installed the driver software (these usually come on a CD or DVD included with your device), you may be wondering if you should check the manufacturer’s website for a newer version or just continue using your device. the one provided on the CD. I highly recommend using the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” rule in this case. Your computer will work just as well with an earlier version, so there’s no need to update your drivers unless you’re experiencing some stability issues or device conflicts. Here are some benefits for newer drivers I might have on the elders:

  • Minor performance increase– This generally only applies to gaming video cards that can deliver a higher percentage of FPS in gaming and benchmarks with newer drivers. If you’re a gamer, you may want to keep up to date with your graphics card driver versions, but otherwise you don’t need to.
  • Bug fixes and stability improvements.Note: Hardware device drivers are thoroughly tested before release, but some may still cause various stability issues or device conflicts. If your computer frequently crashes while performing specific tasks, installing newer drivers might fix this problem.
  • new features– New driver software could let you do more with your hardware device (like improved programmable macros for your fancy keyboard, or better features for your graphics tablet). If you need that new feature, you’ll probably want to update your driver, but if you know you won’t use it, then you don’t need to.

You may be wondering why I advise against updating your drivers just because you have a newer version. It’s true that as a gamer you might want to look for the latest versions to boost your computer’s performance as much as possible, but for the average user, installing the newest not only takes time (visiting the manufacturer’s site, locating the download by downloading the driver, installing it and restarting the PC) but it could actually cause various problems. You know your computer works fine with the old version, but you can’t tell if the updated driver will be bug-free, conflict with your specific hardware configuration, or make your PC unstable. The old proverb I mentioned earlier applies perfectly here.

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