How device drivers work
Device drivers consist of software code that allows your PC's operating system to interact with a hardware device. Every device driver performs a different function due to the fact that there are so many peripheral devices that connect to your PC's operating system. Peripheral devices are devices such as printers, hard drives, scanners and keyboards. The device driver provides a way for your PC to communicate with the peripheral device.
How Device Drivers Work
Whenever you obtain a peripheral device such as a printer or scanner the device is accompanied by a compact disk that includes the software code for loading the device driver. It is necessary to load the software into your PC to establish the device driver so your PC can identify and communicate with the peripheral device. Some of the newer operating systems come with a variety of different types of drivers preinstalled in the system so you do not have to go through the process of installing the driver.
When the driver is installed it creates what is called a "device object" which is designed to control the specific peripheral device it is connecting to. The driver represents the peripheral device and consists of a physical structure of modes that make up the process of allowing your operating system to control the peripheral device.
Drivers operate in what is known as the "kernel" mode which is a mode that can be handled by the Windows operating system. Drivers that operate in the kernel mode are able to interact with the Windows system memory and corresponding hardware. This is different than user mode where programs can use the applications that are provided by the operating system but they cannot access the hardware directly.
A Word about Device Drivers
It is important to note that before you install a device driver it is a good idea to check the website of the manufacturer for the peripheral device to make sure there is not an updated driver that has been made available. If you install drivers that are out of date sometimes it can create instability in your operating system and cause hardware problems. This can also be the case when you update a driver that you have already installed on your PC.
You can also check to see if the driver has been digitally signed by Microsoft which means the driver has been approved by Microsoft for compatibility with the Windows operating system. You can check the signature by clicking on "Start" on your main toolbar on the desktop and then clicking on "Run." Type "sigverif" into the command prompt to run a scan of all of your device drivers and to verify which drivers contain signatures.