How to Find & Replace Outdated Windows Drivers
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Do you know if your drivers need updating? Are you suffering unexplained computer problems? And do you know how to update drivers in Windows 10?

A driver is a 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 that your drivers need updating.

Drivers are available for your video card, 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 them well alone. 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Be sure to head to the comments section afterward to let us know what methods you use to update your outdated drivers.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.

If you’re running anything from Windows XP to Windows 8, you can use the Command Prompt How to Master the Command Prompt in Windows 10 How to Master the Command Prompt in Windows 10 This article makes the Windows 10 Command Prompt approachable and way more useful. Learn how to run multiple commands, get help on any command, and more. Read More to find this information. Press Windows key + X and click Command Prompt. Type driverquery and hit Enter to get a list of every driver installed on your system and when that driver was published.

driverquery

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.

However, this method doesn’t work properly on Windows 10. The information provided is either missing or inaccurate. As such, use the free utility DriverView instead.

How to Find & Replace Outdated Windows Drivers driverview 670x421

This will give you all sorts of information about your drivers, like the version number, manufacturer, installation date, and more. You can double-click a driver on the list to see the information in a single view.

1. Update Drivers Directly From Microsoft

Windows will automatically update your drivers via Windows Update. This is usually safe and reliable because the drivers have been verified and should only be delivered to your system if they’re known to be compatible. Windows Update runs in the background and you’ll only notice it when it requires you to restart your system.

Windows 10 is far more pushy with updates Pros & Cons of Forced Updates in Windows 10 Pros & Cons of Forced Updates in Windows 10 Updates will change in Windows 10. Right now you can pick and choose. Windows 10, however, will force updates onto you. It has advantages, like improved security, but it can also go wrong. What's more... Read More than previous versions of the operating system. However, that’s generally a good thing, since you can set it and forget about it, and it’s usually intelligent enough to know when not to provide a driver update since you don’t always need the most recent version.

How to Find & Replace Outdated Windows Drivers windows update check for updates 670x343

To perform a Windows Update, press Windows key + I to open Settings and go to Update & Security > Windows Update > Check for updates.

You can disable automatic driver updates if you want, though it isn’t recommended by Microsoft. To do so, perform a system search for device installation settings and select the relevant result.

How to Find & Replace Outdated Windows Drivers 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 , select No (your device might not work as expected) and click Save Changes.

You can always reverse the change by returning to this window and selecting Yes (recommended) instead.

Check out our guide on taking back control over driver updates in Windows 10 Take Back Control Over Driver Updates in Windows 10 Take Back Control Over Driver Updates in Windows 10 A bad Windows driver can ruin your day. In Windows 10, Windows Update automatically updates hardware drivers. If you suffer the consequences, let us show you how to roll back your driver and block future... Read More for more advice.

2. Update Drivers Via Device Manager

You can also check all your devices and view their drivers using the Device Manager. To open it, press Windows key + X and click Device Manager.

The Device Manager will show all your system components, like your disk drives, display adapters, processors, and more. Double click a category to expand it and see the devices within.

How to Find & Replace Outdated Windows Drivers device manager 670x402

To see driver information, right click a device, click Properties, and switch to the Driver tab. This displays the date the driver was published, its version number, and other information.

How to Find & Replace Outdated Windows Drivers update drivers auto

To check for a driver update, click Update Driver. Select Search automatically for updated driver software and Windows will search your computer and the web for the latest software. This is what it does through Windows Update anyway, but this is a good method to double check for a specific component. If an update is found, follow the wizard to install it.

You can also Browse my computer for driver software, which we’ll cover in the manual update section below.

3. Update Drivers Manually From The Manufacturer

You can also go 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. This way you’ll ensure the download is up-to-date and safe.

You can use the information provided through the “driverquery” command, DriverView utility 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, and click Browse my computer for driver software. 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.

Avoid 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. Do not use them. The methods listed above are safe. I’ve yet to find any third-party utilities that I’d consider truly reputable and that won’t bundle adware How Adware Is Still a Threat to Your PC and How You Can Beat It How Adware Is Still a Threat to Your PC and How You Can Beat It Malicious popup adverts on your PC or mobile might not be as devious as newer online threats, but they remain a problem. Think adware is a thing of the past? Think again. Read More alongside, install outdated drivers, or get them from dubious sources.

most-famous-viruses-impact

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.

Keep Your Computer Healthy

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. And if everything is working well then you might be better off not updating them at all. It’s usually things like graphics cards, which receive constant patches to support recent games, that need updating the most.

Remember, always download your drivers from reputable sources (direct from the manufacturer if possible). Do not install any which weren’t made specifically for your devices.

For more guidance, check out our advice on how to easily remove old drivers from Windows How to Easily Remove Old Drivers From Windows How to Easily Remove Old Drivers From Windows Not only does Windows retain previous driver versions for current devices, it also stores drivers for devices you stopped using long ago. We'll show you how to clean up old drivers from your system. Read More .

Explore more about: Drivers, Software Updater, Troubleshooting, Windows Update.

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  1. Doc
    August 5, 2018 at 5:43 am

    Great! is there a way to re-enable the media buttons on my Bluetooth headset? Windows 10 1803 killed them, and it's a known flaw in 1803's Bluetooth drivers...

  2. Godel
    August 3, 2018 at 10:04 pm

    Generally if your current driver ain't broke then don't try to fix it.

    One exception is if you've purchased a graphics card from a new generation of cards from the manufacturer. Games performance twelve months after release can be much faster than at release time as the company works out the bugs and best learns how to optimize their product.

    You should check for updates in the firmware of your modem a few times a year to pick up security fixes.

  3. Rob Milliken
    August 2, 2018 at 5:15 am

    Link no longer working to the Win XP file anymore.

    • A Brooks
      August 3, 2018 at 3:14 pm

      That's because Win XP died years ago haha.

      • Rob Milliken
        August 6, 2018 at 1:48 am

        I know this. I've been running the 64 bit version of Windows 10 insider since before it was officially released. However, there are some programs that are legacy that would be nice to run in a VirtualBox that will not run in Windows 10 64 bit. Such as 16 bit programs (or their installers are 16 bit). So it would be nice. XP is available elsewhere however, and I think I may be able to find it one of my old DVDs - but I thought I'd let people who came across this article like I did for specific reasons to know the link no longer works to save them some time.
        I didn't mean to imply that I am going back to Win XP.

    • Mic
      August 3, 2018 at 8:42 pm

      It is the truth XP is not supported by Microsoft since few years. Unfortunately for you.