Keeping drivers up to date is important. However, it’s not always easy to know the best way to do so. Driver updates can make one’s computer run better when everything goes as planned. But at the same time a failed driver update can have severe repercussions. One can prevent the bad while enhancing the good by keeping these seven driver update tips in mind.
1. Use Windows Update when possible
Windows has an operating system update function called Windows Update. Many people assume that it specifically targets the underlying operating system and nothing else. However, in reality Windows Update handles quite a few computer drivers as well. There’s nothing magic about Windows Update. It does come with enough extra safeguards to make it one of the best options though. As such, one should always consider it as a first option when wondering how to update a computer driver.
2. Don’t use generic driver update utilities
One can find quite a few programs which aim to duplicate Windows Updates methods of driver management. One will usually want to avoid those programs. The main reason is that other companies simply don’t have the resources of Microsoft. They simply can’t be expected to deal with the thousands of different company’s drivers when they’re just one medium sized company as well. Where Microsoft is a huge company which actually writes the operating system drivers interface with.
3. Do use company specific update programs
An exception to the update program rules occurs when a company ties programs into their own hardware. For example, some graphics card manufacturers make driver update programs for those cards. It’s usually fine, or even the preferred option, to use a company’s own update system when possible. The reason is similar to why Microsoft is trusted with Windows updates. A company knows their own hardware and drivers better than anyone else.
4. Consider whether the upgrade is needed
People often assume that they need to have the latest and greatest drivers. But there’s often not much to gain from a driver upgrade. For example, one wouldn’t need to upgrade the drivers of an SD card reader if it were functioning properly. One would need to update it if SD cards weren’t showing up properly. One should generally try to avoid breaking drivers which are working perfectly at the moment.
5. Keep special cases in mind
Some hardware will always be an exception to the previous rule about upgrades. Graphics cards are probably the best example. Drivers for graphics cards are constantly updated to enhance performance with the latest games. As such, anyone who plays games on a computer will probably want to ensure they always have the latest drivers for their graphics card. Though in this case one will also usually find that the card’s manufacturer has automatic driver update programs.
6. Always remember to reboot
Windows often keeps drivers active in RAM. This doesn’t mean much during most day to day activities. But someone wondering how to update a computer driver should also keep that in mind. The main reason is that a driver can be updated on the hard drive but still have the old one active in RAM. As such, one should always remember to reboot after updating a computer’s drivers.
7. Try to avoid BIOS updates
BIOS updates are typically mentioned as if they were the same as any other driver update. However, they’re a special type of driver which forms the foundation of everything on one’s computer. One can think of the BIOS as a collection of drivers which tell a computer how to work with other drivers. As such one should try to avoid BIOS updates as much as possible.