4 Puzzling Technology Questions

Tech Talker answers some burning listener questions.

Eric Escobar
4-minute read
Episode #242

3.) Why do we change passwords so often?

If you work for a company of almost any size, you’re probably used to changing your passwords frequently. Sometimes it’s once a month, once a quarter, or once a year. In any case, it can be annoying to change passwords so frequently. So why do we do it?

The reason it’s a good idea to change passwords is a security measure for a password getting hacked or lost. The idea is that if a hacker steals your password and you change it every month, at best they will only have access to your password for a month before you change it. This also prevents hackers from trying to ‘crack’ your password. If a hacker doesn’t know your password they will try and guess it. Typically this will take a really long time, but hackers can use their computer to guess for them. A good password can take years, or even decades, to guess. So if you change your password monthly, a hacker would have to start over each time

This is also why most systems won’t let you keep a similar password to your last one. For example most systems won’t let you change “Password1” to “Password2.” If I saw that you had an old password of “Password12,” I would simply try “Password13”, “Password14” and so on to see if you had in fact just kept adding a number each time you had to change it.

Ultimately changing passwords won’t protect the strength of the password, they just make it harder for hackers who try and steal passwords and reuse them. It limits the time they have to access a system and the time they can crack a password and have it still be useful

While this practice is annoying, it’s generally not too bad if you use a password manager like LastPass which securely stores and remembers your passwords.

A driver is a special program that tells your computer how to interact with hardware.

4.) What is a driver?

I’ve had the question asked to me a ton of times, “What is a driver and why is it installing?” If you use Windows, you’ve probably plugged in a mouse, keyboard, or some other USB device and seen a little Window pop up that says “Installing Drivers.” A driver is a special program that tells your computer how to interact with hardware.

Imagine the following scenario: someone hands you the keys to a motorcycle and asks you to take it for a spin. This is what happens to your computer when you plugin a device, it says, “What the heck do I do with this?” If your computer has the right driver, it says “oh ya I know what to do from here!” If it doesn’t know what to do, it looks for a program that might know how to use the new piece of hardware. This is just like the keys to your motorcycle, if you know how to ride you’re set and ready to go. However, if you’ve never ridden a motorcycle, you’ll have to seek out some instructions on how to do so!

So why don’t computers have all the drivers installed ahead of time? Well, that would be a lot of wasted space. I mean why would you have the drivers for 1000 different types of USB mice if you only used one or two? It makes a lot more sense to download only the drivers you need from the internet, instead of just having them all on hand!

Be sure to check out all my earlier episodes at techtalker.quickanddirtytips.com. And with that, I’m the Tech Talker, keeping technology simple!


About the Author

Eric Escobar

Tech Talker demystifies technology and cutting edge devices so that even the most tech illiterate can understand what's going on with their computer or gadget — and what to do when something goes wrong.

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