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A Brief Intro
You may have wondered how your PC acquires the ability to identify diverse hardware components such as digital cameras, printers or plotters, and flatbed scanners attached to it. The answer is a small, almost magical piece of software code called the device driver that conveys details about how to interact with a particular device to your PC.
Usually, an application CD containing the device drivers is bundled with every new hardware accessory. Before connecting the accessory to the PC for the first time, these device drivers have to be installed for your hardware accessory to function properly on your PC.
The device drivers primarily introduce your new hardware device to the Windows operating system, and also provide the basic protocols through which Windows can interact with them in order to follow your instructions successfully.
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What are these Applications?
As a normal PC user, you may have four to five hardware accessories attached to your PC, including an inkjet or laser printer, an image scanner, a digital camera, and a modem for connecting to the Internet.
Also, the Windows operating system has to recognize a number of internal devices after a fresh installation, which includes the built-in graphics or graphics card, sound system or card, and other internal devices attached to the PC. Although Windows ships with a database of common (and some not-so-common) hardware device drivers, you may need to install additional drivers after a fresh installation of the operating system. This can become a relatively complicated task at times.
And here's where driver detection software fits in. As the name suggests, driver detection applications identify all the device drivers being used on the PC and create a database of all of them. This database may include things like their name, version number, and registry values.
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What Can I do with It?
Driver detection is primarily aimed at making your life easier as a PC user. It lets you manage the database of all the device drivers installed upon your PC in a collective manner. Usually, all the driver detection applications let you detect and backup all these drivers in a single (compressed) file, or copy them to a folder of your choice. Further, you can restore all these drivers from the archive, and bring them back to the previous condition.
Some of the driver detection apps also offer the functionality of upgrading your drivers automatically, claiming to have a repository of millions of device drivers by thousands of device manufacturers. Once you purchase these driver detection packages, you are given access to their constantly updated repository.
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Three recommended driver applications you may want to consider are:
Driver Genius Pro
This is a driver detection program that supports nearly all the versions of Windows from 98 to Vista, and also 64-bit version of Windows. It backs up all the device drivers of your Windows PC, and restores them at one click. The software also lets you copy all the drivers to an auto installer .EXE application file, so that you can install all of them at one go after a fresh installation of Windows. It also offers device monitoring and diagnostics to check the devices functioning properly, and hopefully fix them if not. To learn more about the application, please visit http://www.driver-soft.com.
This application claims to offer access to an online repository of 4,200,000 device drivers, of which over 2,500,000 are related to specific manufacturers. It works with IE 5.5+, Firefox 1.2+, and Opera 8+, and requires .NET framework 2.0 to be installed upon the system. If you want to know more about Driver Detective, please visit http://www.drivershq.com.
DriverMax supports Windows 2003, Windows XP and Windows Vista, although the device drivers can be downloaded only for Windows XP and Vista. It lets you backup your existing device drivers in compressed file or folder, and offers automatic upgrades to all the device drivers in an online mode. For more information about DriverMax, please visit http://www.innovative-sol.com/drivermax.