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Your drivers might be outdated and need updating, but how are you to know?

A driver is software that communicates with your hardware to make it work with your operating system. If you’re having system trouble Why Does Windows Crash? The Top 10 Reasons Why Does Windows Crash? The Top 10 Reasons Oh, great. Another blue screen, boot issue or frozen screen in Windows. Now you have to restart and lose most or all of the work you’d been trying to accomplish. It’s frustrating both because of... Read More , like a printer not working or games crashing, then it might be indicative of your drivers needing updating.

Drivers are available for your video card 4 More Video Card Features Every Gamer Should Know About 4 More Video Card Features Every Gamer Should Know About There are four brand new features that you should keep an eye on. Read More , audio, motherboard and much more. However, you don’t always need to update your drivers for the sake of it. If everything is working well on your system, then you might be better off leaving everything as it is. If they do need updating, though, we’ve rounded up a number of different methods to help you.

Be sure to head to the comments section afterwards to let us know what methods you use to update your outdated drivers.

Check Your Drivers

While you’ll have drivers installed on your system, you may not know precisely what they are or what version you’re using. It’s easy to find this information out. Press Windows key + R to launch the Run menu, type cmd, then hit Return to load up Command Prompt 7 Common Tasks The Windows Command Prompt Makes Quick & Easy 7 Common Tasks The Windows Command Prompt Makes Quick & Easy Don't let the command prompt intimidate you. It's simpler and more useful than you expect. You might be surprised by what you can accomplish with just a few keystrokes. Read More . Type driverquery and hit Return to get a list of every driver installed on your system and when that driver was published.

driverquery

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You can also type driverquery > driver.txt to export all that information into a handy text file. The file will save into wherever your command prompt path is set to. So in my example above, that’d be C:\Users\Joe.

It’s very important to bear in mind that the date given is not when you last updated the driver, it’s the date the driver you’re using was published. As such, although a driver might have a Link Date of some years back, it isn’t necessarily true that it needs updating.

Using Device Manager

You can also check out all of your devices and view their relevant drivers by using the Device Manager. Perform a system search for it, select the result and you’ll see a list detailing your disk drives, display adapters, processors and more. You can expand each of these using the arrows to see what relevant devices you have in those categories.

Right-click a device, select Properties and then switch to the Driver tab on the window that opens. Here you’ll be able to view, amongst other information, the date the driver was published and its version number.

device manager

If you want to see if there’s a driver update available then click Update Driver… from this window. You can either search automatically or browse your computer – the latter option we’ll get to later, so click Search automatically for updated driver software.

Windows will search its online database to see if there’s a newer driver available than the one you’ve already got installed. While this isn’t guaranteed to find the most recent for every device, it’s usually pretty accurate. If there is an updated driver then you can follow the wizard through to install it.

Automatic Updates

By default, Windows is set to automatically update your drivers. Perform a system search for device installation settings and select the relevant result. This will open a window that will let you set your preferences when it comes to automatic driver updates.

device installation settings

If you don’t want automatic updates provided through Windows Update Fix Windows Update & Make It Less Annoying Without Compromising Security Fix Windows Update & Make It Less Annoying Without Compromising Security Windows Update can be a nuisance. Here is how you can protect yourself from its annoyances without compromising security. Read More , you can select No, let me choose what to do in order to get specific. If you prefer, you can set it so that your drivers are never updated automatically. If you’ve had problems with the newest drivers being unstable then you’ll likely want to select this option, or if you’re of the belief that ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’, but it’s advisable by Microsoft to stick to automatic updates.

Manual Updates

You can also go direct to the manufacturer of your device and update your drivers through them. If you want to download drivers manually then it’s highly advisable to go straight to the source because you’ll ensure the download is up-to-date and safe.

You can use the information provided through the driverquery command or Device Manager to find out what drivers you have and who manufactures them. Head to their website and look for their driver section (it might be under a Support heading). Some providers, like AMD and NVIDIA, will have tools that can scan your system and detect what driver you need if you’re unsure.

amd drivers

Once downloaded, most of the drivers will have executables that can be opened and they’ll update what’s necessary. If not, head back to the Device Manager, right-click the device, select Update Driver Software… and then click Browse my computer for driver software and point the wizard to the location of your downloaded file.

If you bought the physical computer component itself then you may find that it came with a CD that includes drivers. Be slightly wary of these because unless they connect to the Internet then there’s a possibility they’ll be outdated. The same applies to CDs that come with pre-built machines.

Third-party Software

There’s a lot of third-party software out there that will claim to scan your system and update all the drivers in one go. Frankly, I’d avoid them and just use the methods above. I’ve yet to find any I’d consider truly reputable and that won’t bundle adware Has Microsoft Installed Adware on Your PC to Promote Windows 10? Has Microsoft Installed Adware on Your PC to Promote Windows 10? Windows 10 is coming and Microsoft is going to great lengths to ensure each and every Windows 7, 8, and 8.1 user is fully aware. Is update KB3035583 essentially adware? Read More alongside, install outdated drivers, or get them from dubious sources.

adware

Besides, your drivers shouldn’t need updating that often anyway. The small amount of time it takes to perform the above methods are much more preferable than risking a third-party tool that could potentially muck your system up.

Drive On

You may find that all your drivers are already up-to-date if you’ve never fiddled with your system settings, thanks to Windows Update Windows Update: Everything You Need to Know Windows Update: Everything You Need to Know Is Windows Update enabled on your PC? Windows Update protects you from security vulnerabilities by keeping Windows, Internet Explorer, and Microsoft Office up-to-date with the latest security patches and bug fixes. Read More . And if everything is working well then you might be better off not updating them at all.

Remember, always download your drivers from reputable sources (direct from the manufacturer if possible) and don’t install any which aren’t suited for your system’s devices.

What methods do you use to update your drivers? How often do you have to update them?

  1. Bessie Shaw
    August 14, 2015 at 9:02 am

    I prefer to use Drive The Life, I always can't get right drivers for my computer, but this free tool can help me download and install right drivers for my Windows computer.

    • Candy Ray
      June 29, 2016 at 6:56 am

      I also use this tool. It names Driver Talent now. Yeah, it is quite good program. It is always able to download and install the compatible drivers for my Dell. Highly recommend. I give 5 stars.

  2. Trinae Ross
    June 28, 2015 at 6:42 pm

    +2 for SlimDrivers as I was able to get more updated drivers for my video card and networking than what Windows offered.

  3. Raaga king maker
    June 3, 2015 at 3:45 pm

    Nice article

  4. Cain Galea
    May 29, 2015 at 11:49 pm

    Okay... there is a little freeware tool, not well known. Have you ever wondered why drivers aren't named in Windows? What's up with the cryptic ID's? ....Well, an app called 'Unknown Device Identifier' identifies those 'yellow question mark' Unknown Devices in Device Manager. It reports a detailed summary for the manufacturer name, OEM name, device type, device model and even the exact name of the unknown devices - you can then search the Internet for the corresponding driver with a simple click. - TOO EASY

    • A41202813GMAIL ..
      May 31, 2015 at 11:17 am

      THANK YOU SO MUCH !

  5. Ryan Walmsley
    May 29, 2015 at 2:02 pm

    +1 SlimDrivers.

  6. Jovan Tvrdisic
    May 29, 2015 at 1:01 pm

    I use a driver pack solutions. Used it to install drivers on an old fujitsu notebook, up to a brand new asus x550 netbook series...

  7. John D Hindorff
    May 29, 2015 at 12:36 pm

    Get a Mac...

    • Dave Guy
      May 30, 2015 at 4:04 am

      neh

  8. Josh Frederick
    May 29, 2015 at 12:23 pm

    +1 for SlimDrivers... it works like a champ!

  9. John Reeve
    May 29, 2015 at 7:12 am

    We cannot fault the paid version DriverEasy It's been updating our drivers for the last three years. Hitman pro didn't show any files of DriverEasy having malaware. Were happy with it. Red6466.

  10. gail fleet
    May 28, 2015 at 11:28 pm

    I read the article and I knew most of that. For some reason 'driverquery' won't work for me. I find the problem with using Windows to update your drivers is that their database is slow to update to the latest drivers. Also Windows drivers aren't fool proof. I have used Windows to updated video drivers only to find it made things worse. So before you update do what I do create a restore point first. I usually try Microsoft first and then the manufacturer of the computer or of the part -as was mentioned AMD or Nvidia for video I've also used slim drivers it works but it's tedious- you have to go for one at a time. Better than that (for free) is 'diver booster 2'. I like it because if you choose it updates all out of date drivers for you with one click... also without spyware.... the Only Thing when you install 'driver booster '2 it asks you if you also want to install 'advanced system care' - it's your choice to install or not -but 'advanced system care' is not a bad program either. One site I like to use is driverscollection.com. But if you go to this site or any other looking to update drivers first install Adblock because if you don't it's real easy to download something you don't want. So give 'driver booster 2' a try tell, then I sent you, but remember create a restore point first.

  11. Mike Dunn
    May 28, 2015 at 10:01 pm

    I used SlimDrivers freeware to update.It found about 7 out of date drivers.

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