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Updating Device Drivers on Windows

Updating Device Drivers on Windows

Occasionally, hardware devices require updates in order to function properly. While the reasons are various, it typically relates to updates by the manufacturer that result in compatibility issues. In addition, if you install a new piece of hardware, the installation could overwrite an existing driver and create conflict with another device. In this scenario, the existing device driver may require an upgrade. When a hardware device starts to act awry, updating the corresponding driver often solves all the problems.

Updating 101

The easiest way to update a device driver on a Windows operating system is via the Device Manager utility. There are numerous ways to open this utility, including accessing the “Start” menu, clicking on “Control Panel” and selecting “Device Manager” from the list of items. Regardless of how it is accessed, the purpose of the Device Manager is to list all the hardware devices present on your computer. If you notice that a device is listed with a yellow question mark, this usually indicates that the device isn’t functioning properly.

You can choose the device you want to update by right-clicking it and selecting Update Driver Software from the sub-menu. From here, you have two choices: you can select the option that automatically scans the internet for updated drivers, or choose the option that allows you to use an updated driver stored or a disk or folder. Simply make a selection and follow the proceeding instructions.

Automatically vs. Manually Updating

If you want to view details about a particular driver before making updates, right-click the device and then hit “Properties.” Next, click the “Driver” tab. You should see information pertaining to the driver, as well as options for making updates, disabling and enabling the driver, uninstalling the driver, and utilizing a roll back feature. Rolling back the driver allows you to revert back to the previous status if an update doesn’t function properly.

If you prefer to manually update a device driver, you will need to find a new driver and also save a backup copy of the old one just in case. There are many software applications available that will scan your system, automatically download, install and backup new drivers. These programs work quickly and tend to be very easy to use.

Tips and Factors to Keep in Mind

There are some drivers that may cause your system to become unstable if not they are not installed properly or installed for the wrong device. You can launch the Device Manager to find out if a particular device is working properly. If not, an error code will be displayed. If you notice that a device isn’t working properly, click on the “troubleshoot” button in the Device Manager to initiate the troubleshooting process.

Another option you have is writing down the given error codes and trying to get technical support from the company who manufactured the device. If you update a driver and it doesn’t work, uninstall any software applications you recently installed. Because it could be the software that is creating the conflict, check with the vendor to see if an update or patch is available to fix the issue.