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What are Printer Drivers?

Article Details
  • Written By: Troy Holmes
  • Edited By: W. Everett
  • Last Modified Date: 08 October 2017
  • Copyright Protected:
    2003-2017
    Conjecture Corporation
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Most computers today have the ability to print photos, word documents, and formal letters to a printer. Printers require specific printer drivers that define how information will be interpreted by the printer. This special driver is installed on the computer and used each time a page is printed. Print drivers provide the critical format and print quality information that is specific for the printer.

When a printer formats data, it must convert a computer image into special characters. These binary elements define the colors, graphics, and dimensions of a picture. The drivers are unique to each printer and provide the information on how the picture will be created on paper.

There are multiple types of drivers for a computer. These drivers provide the computer operating system with critical information on how it will communicate with the external devices. Some examples of these devices include cameras, printers, external drives, and music players. Each device has specific drivers that define how the operating system will interact with the device.

When a printer is first configured, it typically requires installation of special software that includes the printer driver. Most companies that produce printers offer free downloads of their printer drivers. This offers the consumers multiple methods of accessing the installation software.

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Loading printer drivers is a simple operation. Most installation software is self explanatory and requires only a few mouse clicks to complete. When the installation is finished a special driver file will be installed into a specific location in the computer file system. This location is unique for each type of operating system and should not require any modification from the computer user.

It is important to remember that a print driver is file that is stored locally on a computer. If the file is removed or becomes corrupted, the printer will no longer operate correctly. At times, it may be necessary to remove and re-install the printer drivers.

Most installation software also includes a removal process, which cleans the file system. A proper re-installation process should include both a removal and installation step. This ensures any file corruption is extracted from the computer operating system.

Computers typically include system-recovery software, which is used as a recovery process for complete system failure. This software installs the entire operating system and any configured devices for the computer. Typically the printer drivers are not included in the recovery software of a computer. This is because printers are considered external devices that are added onto a computer. In the event of a complete system failure, these drivers will need to be installed independently of the recovery process.

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