Driver hell

Driver hell: no I’m not talking about the commute, I’m talking about computer drivers. What happens when you search for computer drivers.

What are computer drivers?

Drivers are software that tell your computer how to work with a device attached or installed on your computer. Classic example is a printer driver or a graphics card driver. If you don’t have the driver installed or you have an out of date driver, things can go wonky. Your printer won’t print. Your screen looks funny. Your webcam doesn’t work properly when you Skype.

Driver Hell

How do you get to Driver Hell? A device stops working and you search for a solution. Or you get a message that a driver is not found.

Driver hell is searching for the correct driver.

In the image below, see the search results for looking for a Canon Pixma printer driver. In the image from Bing, the first result you get is an ad for a malicious website claiming to have Canon drivers. Just to convince you to click on it, they’ve helpfully added the word “Recommended”.

Driver Hell

The correct result in this case is just underneath, the cannon web site. Always get your drivers from the manufacturer’s website.

On your search for a driver, you may also run into one of those driver super sites. These websites claim to have all your drivers, can fix all your computer problems and if they actually have the correct driver (most times they don’t) the download is bundled with all kinds of unwanted software.

See example below:

Missing driver

The program that comes with these websites usually runs 24/7 on your computer, slowing it down, giving you constant popups that encourage you to download more crapware. You don’t need this kind of driver management. Microsoft actually does an amazing job in supporting all the devices folks connect to their computers. Windows 10 will automatically install 99% of the peripherals out there without you needing to go searching for drivers.

If you can’t find a driver you need from the manufacturers web site or from Windows, it’s probably time to update the device.

Be careful what you search for. Be specific about exactly the driver you are looking for (i.e. printer manufacturer name, model and model number example Canon Pixma M472). Don’t get sucked into driver hell.