The Only Safe Way to Update Your Hardware Drivers on Windows

Do you want to update the drivers on your computer? Get your driver updates from Windows Update or from the manufacturer's website for your device. Here's how.

Hardware drivers are the pieces of Windows software used to communicate with your PC hardware. Device manufacturers create these drivers and you can get drivers directly from the manufacturer of your devices. Manufacturers also submit drivers to Microsoft for testing and signing, and you can get many drivers from Microsoft via Windows Update. Often you will not need to worry about updating the drivers, but you will sometimes need to get the latest version, especially if something is not working properly. Although they are tempting, we recommend to use the driver update utilities .

Should you update your drivers?

In general, we advise against updating hardware drivers unless you have a reason for . The driver for the SD card reader that came built into your computer is probably fine. Even if the manufacturer offers a slightly newer version, you probably will not notice the difference. There is no reason to be obsessed with the latest hardware drivers for every component of your computer.

There are, however, good reasons to update the drivers. In particular, players should generally keep their graphics drivers as up to date as possible to ensure the best graphics performance and the least bugs with modern games. In other cases, you may need to get the latest version of a hardware driver if it causes problems with your computer.

If you want to update your drivers, skip the driver update utilities. We can not repeat that enough. Go directly to the source for your hardware drivers. This means that you download drivers from the manufacturer's hardware websites or that Microsoft Windows Update does the work for you.

Update your hardware drivers with Windows Update

Assuming you are using Windows 10, Windows Update automatically downloads and installs the latest drivers for you. Windows 7 and 8 provide driver updates via Windows Update, but Microsoft is much more aggressive about it in Windows 10 . Everything happens automatically. Even if you install your own hardware drivers, Windows sometimes overwrites them automatically when a new version is available. Windows is good enough not to crush things like graphics drivers, though – especially if you have a utility from the manufacturer that keeps up to date with the updates.

Using Windows Update in Windows 10 is the automatic solution, ready to use and forget about. You do not need driver update utility because Windows has a built-in utility.

On Windows 7, 8, and 8.1, the hardware drivers appear in the Windows Update interface as an optional update. If you want the latest hardware drivers, make sure you open Windows Update, check for updates, and install any available hardware driver updates.

Update your graphics drivers

For graphic drivers, you can use the control panel that came with your graphics drivers to check their update . NVIDIA, AMD and even Intel provide control panels that automatically check and download the latest graphics driver updates for you

Simply open the NVIDIA GeForce Experience application, the Radeon Software Crimson Edition from AMD or the Intel graphic control panel, if any on your computer. These often appear in your system status bar, and you can usually find them with a quick search of the Start menu.

You can also go directly to the source here. Visit the NVIDIA, AMD or Intel website to download the latest graphics driver package for your hardware and install it.

Even if you are using Windows 10, you will probably want to do it – at least if you are a gamer. Windows 10 will not automatically update the graphics drivers each time NVIDIA or AMD releases a new version. These updates are really only necessary for people who play PC games.

Use the manufacturer's site

For other drivers, go directly to the website of the manufacturer of your hardware. If you have a laptop computer or a preconfigured desktop computer, go to the manufacturer's website and find the driver download page for your computer model. You will usually find only one webpage with a long list of drivers that you can download. New versions of these drivers are posted on this web page when they are available, and you will often see the dates when they were downloaded so you know which ones are new.

This is where you will usually find firmware updates BIOS and UEFI but we do not recommend that you install them unless you install the BIOS, Have a good reason to do it

If you have created your own desktop, you will need to download the drivers from the manufacturer of each component. For example, go to the motherboard manufacturer's website and look for the specific motherboard model to find the drivers for your motherboard. Repeat this process for each individual hardware component.

The good news is that you do not have to do most of this. Windows – especially Windows 10 – keeps your drivers up to date for you.

If you are a gamer, you will want the latest graphics drivers. But after downloading and installing them once, you will be notified when new drivers are available so that you can download and install them

For other driver updates, you can simply check the manufacturer's website for newer versions. This is usually not necessary, and you do not need to do it unless there is a specific reason to do so. Windows keeps your hardware drivers up to date.

Image credits: Quasic on Flickr

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