New desktop computers and laptops generally come with operating system and system drivers pre-installed. If you installed Microsoft Windows 7 or Microsoft Windows 8, you probably did not bother checking about the system device drivers because Windows 7 and Windows 8 have got huge support for computer device drivers. Microsoft Windows has got generic drivers built-in for most hardware. Its all good but device drivers get updates and if you are experiencing low performance from different components of your PC or PC crashes often, it might be an indication that PC drivers are outdated or proper versions of device drivers are not installed. Update PC drivers to fix PC crashing issues. You should see an immediate boost in PC performance.
Why Device Drivers are Needed
To put it simple, you have to install drivers for sound and audio to enable sound from your computer’s operating system. If you installed operating system but did not install sound drivers for that specific operating system, you won’t hear any sound from PC. If you installed incompatible or generic driver for a device, that device may work but may generate errors at some point or may perform less than its maximum potential.
Updating system drivers is not easy because its not a single thing you are going to update. You have to check and update following drivers for your PC.
System Devices that Need Driver Software
- Display (Graphics & Video Adapters)
- Audio & Sound
- Modems & Network Adapters
- Storage Devices (hard drives/HDD/SSD, thumbdrives, etc)
- Video & TV Tuners
- Input Devices (mouse, keyboard, game controllers)
- Digital Camera
- Wireless Internet
- Optical Disk Drive (CD/DVD)
- SCSI & SATA Device
- External Hard Drives
- Motherboard Chipsets (memory controllers, host bridge, PCI-to-PCI bridges, etc)
- Other Devices (devices of unknown type)
How to Check and Find the Right Driver for Each Device
Drivers for same device may be different for different editions of operating system. Same computer may have different drivers for ‘Microsoft Windows 7 Home’ and ‘Microsoft Windows 7 Ultimate’ editions. While installing drivers, you also have to take care about the 32-bit and 64-bit operating systems. Drivers for 32-bit and 64-bit operating systems are different. Drivers for two laptops from same brand may not be the same.
To update a device driver you should know the name and model of device, then see if it is 32-bit or 64-bit, then see for the operating system that it is supposed to work on and then download relevant driver for that device. An easy way is to search for the drivers for your PC. For example I have got the HP Probook 4520s and Microsoft Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit installed on it. So I will search for the drivers for HP Probook 4520s designed to work on Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit edition. Normally search will take me to a download page from where I can select the model or my laptop and the operating system that I am using. You should know the model of your PC to search like this.
Another way is to use Microsoft Windows ‘Device Manager’ to install or update device drivers. Right click on ‘My Computer’ or ‘Computer’ from ‘Start’ menu of ‘Desktop’ and select ‘Manage’. ‘Computer Management’ section will be opened. Select ‘Device Manager’ from the left side and system devices will appear on the right panel. Select any device to see more information.
For example (in my case) if I select the ‘Display Adapters’, it shows me ‘ATI Mobility Radeon…’. If I right click at the ‘ATI Mobility Radeon…’, it gives me option to ‘Update Driver Software’. We can click on that to update driver software. It offers two options:
- Search automatically for updated driver software
- Browse my computer for driver software
If you have already downloaded the appropriate drivers for your computer, option number 2 is for you in which you browse driver and install it from your computer. In other case you can select option number 1 to search driver automatically. Option number 1 may update the driver software but it may or may not find unknown drivers and you may see the following message:
Windows was unable to install your unknown device.
For unknown devices you can right click at the ‘unknown device’ from ‘Device Manager’ and select ‘Properties’. Go to ‘Details’ tab and from drop down list select ‘Hardware Ids’. Hardware Ids will give you a clue about the device nature/name/model.
How to Find Device and Hardware Information for PC
There is another relatively easy way to find all the hardware and devices information about your computer. Download CPU-Z from CPUID and run this utility. This will tell you about all major hardware of your computer.
You already know your PC brand name and now you have to find out its model to search required drivers. For laptops and notebooks that is easy, where you can see the brand name and model written at the front side or backside of laptop. My laptop has ‘Probook 4520s’ written in front of it and its product by HP. So I can easily search device drives by searching ‘HP Probook 4520s device drivers’ that will take me to the official downloads section of HP website from where I can select my operating system to download relevant drivers for my machine.
What if you have a desktop PC? All you may know that it is an Intel PC and there is Intel Inside :). This is where CPU-Z comes in handy. CPU-Z will tell you the model of mainboard (motherboard) and you will be able to search the drivers for that model. If I use CUP-Z on my laptop, it tells me following information.
Use CPU-Z or CPU-ID when you are not sure about the model of your PC mainboard. Search drivers by using manufacturer name and model number present in ‘Mainboard’ tab of CPU-Z. Download drivers and install/update system drivers.
Manually Download Driver Software
Almost all PC manufacturers (HP, Dell, Sony) offer driver software for free to download and use. Go to the official website of your PC/laptop manufacturer and see if they have a download section. In downloads section, look for the driver software. Select your operating system and PC model to download relevant driver software. Below is a list of popular brands in computer business. Click on your computer manufacturer name below to download driver software for your computer.
Download Device Drivers for your PC from Official Source
Dell Drivers Download Section
HP (Hewlett Packard) Drivers Download Section
Intel Drivers Download Section, Intel Driver Update Utility
Sony Drivers Download Section
Acer Drivers Download Section
Gateway Drivers Download Section
Asus Drivers Download Section
Samsung Drivers Download Section
Toshiba Drivers Download Section
Benq Drivers Download Section
Compaq Drivers Download Section
Lenovo Drivers Download Section
Allow Microsoft Windows to Automatically Download Device Drivers
You can also allow Microsoft Windows to automatically update device drivers and device icons. By default this option is disabled. To enable that go to ‘Control Panel’ > ‘Devices and Printers’. Right click at the icon of a device and select ‘Devive Installation Settings’. Check ‘Yes, do this automatically’ and save changes.
This method is good but it may also bring generic drivers for device and there are more devices in your PC that need driver software.
Above mentioned method may not be easy for everybody. Finding out PC manufacturer and mainboard model, searching for device drivers, selecting OS and download drivers. And even after all that, users often download wrong type of drivers for PC. Why not should we use a drivers manager software to check, install and update device drivers easily. If you use a drivers manager, you won’t have to search for drivers. It already knows from where to download best device drivers suited for your computer.
There are many software to update system drivers such as Uniblue Driver Scanner, Driver Detective, Advanced Driver Updater, Smart Driver Updater, Driver Navigator, Driver Easy, Driver Checker, Driver Genius, Driver Hive, Driver Scanner, Slim Drivers and Device Doctor. I will give you example of ‘Slim Drivers’ that is useful to check and update all the device drivers for PC.
Slim Drivers – Driver Scanner and Updater
Slim Drivers by ‘Slimware Utilities’ caught our attention that is a free software to update all system drivers on Microsoft Windows operating system effectively. It tells you all the drivers that are out-dated and automatically downloads and installs drivers for all hardware and devices.
Slim Drivers detects when a driver needs updating, identifies the proper executable for your system and initiates the driver install on demand. You can update individual driver one by one with free version. Free version also shows upgrade to pro version offer while downloading process of driver. Pro version updates device drivers automatically, on availability. With free version you have to check the updates manually and you can download and install device driver updates one by one. Use this software to scan your PC for missing, broken or out-of-date drivers and get the latest drivers automatically. Automatically means it downloads the driver for you. You do not need to search anything or manually go to a webpage to download driver.
Scan your PC and it will show you the drivers that need to be updated or installed. Click the ‘download update’ link infront of the driver that needs to be updated and Slim Driver will ask you to create a restore point before downloading this new version of driver. After that it downloads the driver and bring up the installer to install that driver.
That’s it. Update drivers one by one and you will save your PC from crashes and it will be more stable resulting in better over all performance. You can take back up for installed drivers for all devices and you can restore from that backup. If you run this program after some time it will tell you if any update on any system driver is available.
So device drivers for PC should be updated and you can monitor devices and installed drivers from ‘device manager’. You can go to your PC manufacturer website to download drivers manually. You can also use free driver scanner software like Slim Drivers that is so easy to use and it does most of the work for you.