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Updating your drivers

To keep your computer running in good shape, you’ll need to make sure you have the latest updates.  Ever since the Internet came into widespread use, developers have been able to offer software updates for a variety of things like core software, operating systems, hardware drivers, and security updates.  These are all handy things that will bring your computer up to speed with the latest optimizations and security features that you’ll need for that smooth PC experience.

Drivers 

As hardware developers find new ways to optimize their component’s interface with the PC system, new drivers are usually released to enhance both stability and performance.  This is supremely important for video cards.  Many people who don’t play games don’t even know what a video card driver is.  You can always download the latest driver from your manufacturer’s website.  Nvidia has a driver suite called Forceware, while ATI makes the Catalyst suite.  For both, all you need to do is download a package approximately 30 MB in size and it will automatically determine your model of card and install the appropriate drivers.  That’s it!  There’s nothing more you really need to do.  Newer drivers mean better compatibility with the latest games and applications.  Just be sure to uninstall the previous drivers before you embark on an update.

Other hardware like sound cards have less frequent updates that are more geared towards bugs that were discovered later or improvements to the interface.  They’re not as important as video card drivers though, so you shouldn’t install them unless you are experiencing problems.

Windows Update 

For Windows XP, you can run windows update off their website to download the latest operating system improvements.  The latest and greatest patch is known as Service Pack 2 and it addresses important security flaws discovered in the XP operating system.  Be wary of installing this beast though, as it significantly changes the way programs can access the Internet.  Many applications like virus scanning software and games that require a connection to the Internet to download updates or connect to servers no longer work after SP2 is installed.  You may need to consult the software’s particular manual to figure out which settings need to be unlocked in windows before they’ll be able to work again.

Definitions 

Both anti-virus and anti-spyware tools require frequent updates to their scanning algorithms and definition files.  These are usually provided online from the developer.

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