A driver is a piece of software that helps your PC communicate with certain hardware, such as your mouse, keyboard, or printer. From time to time, however, these drivers may require updates to fix certain issues, introduce new features, or improve performance.
In general, you shouldn’t need to update your drivers very often. If your hardware works as expected, it’s best to let it be, as newer drivers can introduce issues and fix them. If, however, you’re having trouble with specific hardware, or know that one of your drivers has a security flaw that needs to be fixed, it might be a good idea to update it.
There is one major exception to the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” rule: graphics drivers. If you’re a gamer and have a dedicated graphics card from Nvidia or AMD, new drivers are released all the time with performance improvements for the latest games. If a game you’re playing gets a performance boost from the latest driver, it’s worth updating to take advantage of it.
In most cases, updating a driver is very simple. I don’t really recommend using separate “driver update” utilities; instead, you can do it yourself with just a few clicks.
Update drivers with Windows Update
By far the easiest way to update your drivers is through Windows itself. If the device manufacturer sends a driver update, you need to get it through an official Windows update. Windows 10 users can open Settings > Update & Securitythen click on the big one Check for updates button. Hit it Install now button to download all available updates.
For those who have upgraded to Windows 11, head over to Settings > Windows Update. Click on Check for updatesSo choose Download and install next to available updates. The display can also automatically check for updates or already have an update ready and pending.
Download Manufacturer Drivers
Logitech StreamCam download page (Credit: Logitech)
In the vast majority of cases, this should suffice. However, these drivers can often take a long time to access Windows Update. Sometimes Windows only distributes a “generic” version from Microsoft which avoids additional features.
For example, generic mouse drivers will allow you to use your mouse, but may not allow you to adjust its DPI settings or customize buttons as finely as Logitech’s software. (Microsoft’s generic drivers tend to be very reliable, so unless you need those extra features, it’s okay to stick with what Microsoft gives you.)
To download a driver directly from the manufacturer, go to the product page for the device in question. Most websites will have a support or download page from which you can retrieve the appropriate driver. For example, here is the download page(Opens in a new window) for the Logitech StreamCam. Download the installer and install it as you would any other program.
Lenovo support website (Credit: Lenovo)
If you have a laptop, you can often get drivers from the laptop manufacturer’s website. They are safer to work with your hardware, although they may be outdated by the manufacturer’s drivers for the component in question.
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If you have already installed the manufacturer’s driver software, you may be able to update your drivers from Windows. Open your system tray in the right corner of the Windows taskbar, right-click the icon of the software in question and open its main settings window.
For example, to update my AMD Radeon graphics card drivers, I would right click on the Radeon Settings icon and choose Open Radeon Settings. In the app, there is an Updates tab which can check for and install new updates.
In very rare cases, the driver will not come as an installer from the manufacturer’s website. Instead, it will come as a single file that you’ll need to manually install through Windows Device Manager. To do this, open the Start menu, type “Device Manager” and press Enter. Find your hardware in the list, right-click it, and choose Update Driver. Then click Browse my computer for driver softwareand navigate to the file you downloaded to install it.
Once the driver is successfully installed, you should have all the latest features and bug fixes. If your drivers come with additional software, you can access it from the system tray or start menu, just like any other program.
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