Update Your Device Drivers

Category: Hardware

Device drivers are software packages that keep many parts of your computer system running and working together smoothly. As you change the hardware and software components of your system, the device drivers on it may become obsolete. It's important to keep your device drivers up to date. Here's how...

Updating Device Drivers

How to Keep Your Device Drivers Automatically Updated

Things that depend upon device drivers include not only physical hardware devices attached to your computer, such as disk drives or printers, but also software components such as the networking component of your operating system or application software. Upgrading hardware, operating system, or application software can cause problems with device drivers. So can changes made to things that aren't even on your computer, but are "out there" on the Internet! Device drivers are the essential glue that holds the entire computing/networking environment together.

Errors in normal operations like printing, faxing, accessing a network drive, or connecting to a wireless network are one type of symptom that a device driver may be obsolete or corrupted. If a device just won't work, check its device driver. With Vista or Windows 7, just click on Start and enter "device manager" in the search window. On Windows XP:

  • Click Start and then open Control Panel
  • Click on Performance and Maintenance
  • Click the System icon
  • Click the Hardware tab, then the Device Manager button

Take note of any devices that have an exclamation mark next to them, as this means there is a problem with that device. Double-click on any device that you want to examine. On the General tab, what you hope to see is a "This device is working properly" message.

If You Need a New Device Driver...

If instead you see something like "This device is not working properly" or "The drivers for this device are not installed", then click the Driver tab, and then click the Update Driver button to search for an updated driver to download and/or install. If that doesn't work, then try the Uninstall button to remove the device driver and effectively uninstall the device from your system. Of course, then you have to re-install the device and its driver.

Restarting your computer with the device physically plugged in should cause Windows' Plug and Play to detect the "new" hardware device and search its files for an appropriate driver. If you have the driver on a CD-ROM disc, insert it into the drive and tell Windows to look there instead of in its own driver library. If a matching driver is found, Windows will install it automatically and tell you the device is now installed. Often, re-installing the device driver does the trick. But if it doesn't, you may have to go online for a new driver.

Virtually every manufacturer of computer hardware has an online library where you can download device drivers for their products. Often, these drivers are updated but the manufacturer doesn't notify everyone who owns the device. You can search the website of a device manufacturer for drivers, but I don't recommend that you download a new driver unless you're having trouble with a piece of hardware, or unless the vendor recommends that you do so.

Do you have something to say about device drivers? Post your comment or question below...

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This article was posted by on 15 Feb 2010

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Most recent comments on "Update Your Device Drivers"

(See all 23 comments for this article.)

Posted by:

Des M
20 Feb 2010

Re DeviceDoctor. Downloaded as usual. Then required to download and install another file for my XP O/S. Then chose an indicated download and found myself in an endless loop. Program uninstalled.

Posted by:

Joe M
20 Feb 2010

Device drivers should only be updated if you're having issues. Using the suggested utilities has the side effect of downloading drivers that may be problematic and mess up a perfectly running system. Yes, this is a "been there, done that" comment! :-)

The key to maintaining any system is regularly monitoring the event logs for issues.

Posted by:

Ravi Agrawal
20 Feb 2010


I too wrote the same thing in an Article here. Maybe it is a more detailed.


Posted by:

20 Feb 2010

thaks for this useful information

Posted by:

20 Feb 2010

Drivermax is crapware. Stay away from it. Doesn't anybody actually check these programs before saying people should use them.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Thanks for the helpful, insightful remarks! Unless you can provide some information as to WHY you feel strongly about it, then your comments are meaningless. Or maybe you work for a competitor...

Posted by:

22 Feb 2010

I have used Drivermax successfully in the past, I have only one rule - I only update if the driver update is digitally signed - many of the recommended updates are not, and one has to wonder why not?

With this in mind I was able to update a good few drivers over a couple of days, for free and my systems all work fine :)

Posted by:

J Rod
25 Feb 2010

Secunia has worked for me

Posted by:

25 Feb 2010

Glad to see "Driver Detective" was NOT recommended.

Rip Off Report - http://bit.ly/9fODft

Complaints Board - http://bit.ly/c2INVD

Posted by:

25 Feb 2010

I have updated drivers in the past and have also ended up with problems.

Posted by:

25 Feb 2010

Have installed recommended Dell printer driver automatically through windows update and it messed up the printer every time. Now I am careful to NOT let it install the update. I have also had similar bad experiences with the driver update programs - thought I could trust windows update - guess not.

Posted by:

25 Feb 2010

Uh...Drivermax is not freeware. If you want to download the suggested drivers, then you need to pay for an upgrade...that's alright with me, but it shouldn't be called freeware...

Posted by:

26 Feb 2010

Guys! With all respects to Bob and his ever-useful advices, I always keep Windows Update off and only use it manually, when required. Same thing for drivers updates.
And many thanks to Ravi for his article about "Troubleshooting and repairing misbehaving Peripherals in Windows using the Device Manager". We're not all that geeky.. are we?

Posted by:

06 Mar 2010

Drivermax loaded fine, crashed when used. That's why its crapware. I work for myself, not for any competitor.

The question is why is the process of updating drivers so absurdly complex? Why do so many sites appear free until you try and download drivers?

Posted by:

20 Mar 2010

Ive used DriverMax and had no problems with it. Another option is to use a program such as drivermax to list all outdated drivers, then manually download each driver from the manufactures website.

Posted by:

10 May 2010

Hi Bob I have a printer which is connected to the 2nd PC. I can print from the 2nd PC to printer, but not from the 1st PC on the network. I was able to print from the 1st and 2nd PC in the past. What do you think is the problem?

Posted by:

driver update
13 May 2010

Good stuff to share. Also, i have something great to share with you too: Driver Robot. Believe it or not, it's the best Driver updater i've elver used.

Posted by:

19 Jul 2010

How about driverpack? have you used it?

Posted by:

02 Nov 2010

www.driverstorer.com is a good place for driver downloads. they even host newegg promo codes

Posted by:

16 Feb 2011

BAD, BAD, BAD, I download the free "Device Doctor" on recommendation on "Kim Komando" It has been a nightmare. It keeps popping up in many places I don't want it. I can not delete this program, It is embedded permanently in my computer. I hate "Device Doctor" now. Do you have the answer how to uninstall it from my computer?

Posted by:

16 May 2011

I use this site http://driver-driver-driver.com/
to check that all my drivers are up to date.

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