A Guide to Locating and Substituting Outdated Drivers
Are you aware of the drivers currently installed on your Windows 10/11 computer? Do these drivers require updates, and if so, how can you go about updating them?
In straightforward language, a driver serves as software facilitating communication between Windows and your hardware. A variety of components, such as graphics cards, webcams, and motherboards, rely on drivers. If you’re experiencing system issues, like a malfunctioning printer or games crashing, it could signal the need to update your drivers.
Let’s delve into the process of identifying and replacing outdated Windows drivers on both Windows 10 and 11.
How to Verify the Drivers Installed on Your System
Your system will contain drivers, even if not installed manually. However, determining their identity and version may be unclear. There are several methods to examine this information.
Utilize Device Manager
Checking drivers can be conveniently done using Device Manager. One straightforward approach is to press the Windows key + X and select Device Manager.
Device Manager displays all your devices categorized (e.g., Disk drives, Monitors, and Printers). To examine a device’s driver details:
- Double-click a category to expand and view the devices within.
- Right-click a device and select Properties.
- Navigate to the Driver tab.
- For additional details and access to the installed driver files, click on Driver Details.
DriverView is a complimentary utility that compiles a comprehensive list of all your drivers in a single table. It furnishes extensive details such as version numbers, manufacturers, and file paths for each driver. To utilize DriverView, download the ZIP file, extract its contents, and launch the EXE.
DriverView is a straightforward program with useful features, including:
- To customize the table, navigate to View on the toolbar and utilize options like Mark Non-Microsoft Drivers and Choose Columns as per your requirements.
- Export data through File > Save Selected Items or View > HTML Report (then save the page).
- For more details about a specific driver, select the corresponding row and go to File > Google Search.
Utilize Command Prompt
While Windows Command Prompt can generate a report of all your drivers, its reliability on Windows 10 and Windows 11 may vary. For a more dependable list of drivers, the recommended approach is to use third-party software, as mentioned earlier. However, if you’re using an older Windows version or prefer not to install additional software, you can employ the Command Prompt method outlined below.
To initiate this process, open Command Prompt by pressing Windows key + R to open Run, input cmd, and click OK. Then, to run the report, type driverquery and press Enter.
For a convenient text file for future reference, type driverquery > driver.txt. The file will be saved in the location specified by your Command Prompt path. Visit Microsoft’s driverquery page for more advanced parameters.
How to Update Outdated Windows Drivers
Ensuring that your Windows drivers are up to date is crucial for software compatibility, bug fixes, and security patches. However, it’s essential to note that updating drivers might not always be necessary. If Windows Update doesn’t recommend a driver update, it could indicate that the current driver is already compatible with your hardware, and if your system is functioning well, leaving the drivers untouched may be preferable.
Utilize Windows Update
In most instances, Windows automatically manages driver updates through Windows Update, ensuring that the delivered drivers are verified and compatible with your system.
To manually check for Windows updates, press Windows key + I to open Settings, navigate to Update & Security > Windows Update > Check for updates (Windows 10) or Windows Update > Check for updates (Windows 11).
You have the option to disable automatic driver updates on Windows, particularly if the latest version is causing issues. However, it is generally advisable to allow Windows Update to handle this automatically.
Windows Update may also offer some drivers as optional downloads, meaning they won’t be updated automatically. In most cases, it’s recommended to install optional driver updates only when you encounter specific issues. To do so, follow these steps from the Windows Update page:
- For Windows 10: Click “View optional updates.” For Windows 11: Click “Advanced options” > “Optional updates.”
- Expand the category by clicking “Driver updates.”
- Select the driver(s) you want to install.
- Click “Download and install.”
Utilize the Manufacturer’s Website
Another method to update drivers is by downloading them directly from the hardware manufacturer’s website. It’s crucial to use official and trusted sources to ensure safety and obtain the latest versions.
Follow one of the previously mentioned methods to identify your drivers and their respective manufacturers. Then, visit the manufacturer’s website and locate the driver section, often found under “Downloads” or “Support.” Some companies, such as AMD and NVIDIA, offer tools that automatically detect the required driver for your system. Proprietary software from these manufacturers may also provide ongoing driver updates and additional functionalities.
Typically, drivers are executable files that update the necessary components when run. If not, you can use Device Manager to install them:
- Press Windows key + X and select Device Manager.
- Double-click a category to expand and view the devices within.
- Right-click a device and choose “Update driver.”
- Select “Browse my computer for drivers.”
- Click “Browse” and navigate to the folder where the driver is downloaded.
- Click OK.
- Click Next and follow the wizard to complete the installation.
Drivers Play a Crucial Role in Maintaining Smooth Computer Operation
Windows Update often ensures that your drivers are current, keeping your system running efficiently. If your computer is functioning well and all components are operating smoothly, there may be no immediate need to update the drivers. Typically, it’s specific components like graphics cards that benefit the most from regular updates, particularly for optimal support of recent games.
Always prioritize obtaining drivers either through Windows Update or directly from the official website of the device manufacturer. Additionally, exercise caution and refrain from installing drivers that are not explicitly designed for your devices, as this could lead to compatibility issues.