Errors Caused by Outdated Drivers
Many people are under the assumption that drivers only need to be installed once, immediately following the installation of the operating system of their preference. While this is indeed true generally speaking, there are certain circumstances and situations under which it becomes necessary to attend to the state of a system's drivers once again. After the initial driver's installation, it would certainly be wonderful if it met the computer's needs indefinitely, but in the quickly changing digital world revisions and system changes are commonplace. Conflicts occasionally arise, but they are generally not severe enough to render one's machine inoperable and can be resolved quite simply in most cases. These discrepancies can actually occur with no warning whatsoever, especially in the Windows environment. Even if one has executed a particular action on his or her machine many times without so much as a hiccup, that same action may be suddenly hindered without an obvious cause. Because of its "out of nowhere" occurrence some may be led to the assumption that a hardware failure has taken place, though sudden hardware failures almost always compromise the entire system rather than hindering specific software functions; the much more likely culprit is an outdated driver.
The various versions of Windows are configured so that system updates directly from Microsoft are automatically downloaded and installed without any input from the user. Presumably, the idea behind this setup is to make the process less of a chore and to help ensure that updates are installed in a timely fashion, which can indeed be a good idea for security reasons. This can, however lead to the aforementioned scenario in which something stops working due to an out of date driver conflicting with the new operating system changes. One way to limit the confusion that can arise out of this particular scenario is to adjust the settings for the built-in updating program responsible for these changes. Navigating to the automatic updates settings manager is very simple: From the "Start" menu or "My Computer" window, click on the "Control Panel" icon. This will open a hub of configuration altering sub-program icons, and the one we're looking to select here is logically labeled as "Automatic Updates." Once selected, the user will be presented with a window which offers various options besides automatic download and installation of updates. One can choose to automatically download but prompt for installation, prompt for download and installation, or completely turn the automatic updates off. I suggest keeping it on, but prompting before download and installation. This will help you to diagnose problems due to system changes more accurately as you'll actually know when the changes are taking place!
Often after a significant amount of time, the creators of the drivers who work as programmers for the hardware manufacturer will discover that their code was incorrectly or inefficiently written which can cause "bugs" to present themselves in certain cases. This means that even though you may have installed the correct drivers after the initial installation of your operating system, the updated versions of these same drivers should be installed. The drivers that are included on the CD-ROM packaged with your motherboard may even become outdated by the time it ends up in your hands! A quick look around the driver page for your motherboard model will tell you if this is the case, as driver revisions will be listed very clearly. If one experiences strange issues that they have not encountered before, this is a great thing check out when beginning the troubleshooting process.
Finally, conflicts due to outdated drivers can occur when switching from one version of an operating system to a more recent, upgraded version, e.g. moving from Windows XP to Windows Vista. When the core of the system changes significantly sometimes completely new drivers must be written, and often there is a lag time between the release of the upgrade and the implementation of new drivers. Hardware and driver compatibility lists are available from Microsoft's website, as well as the official websites of other operating systems such as Mac OS and Linux. If updated drivers are unavailable and your video, for example, has ceased to work at its proper capacity, search for your hardware model name within these lists. If not found, downgrading temporarily while the manufacturer's programmers implement the needed changes is likely to be your best option.
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