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Buggy Computer Hardware? How to Update Your Drivers in Windows

A driver is a small piece of software that helps your PC communicate with a specific piece of hardware, such as your mouse, keyboard, or printer. From time to time, however, drivers may require updates to fix certain issues, introduce new features, or improve performance.

In general, you don’t need to update your drivers very often. If your hardware is working as intended, it’s best to leave it alone, as new drivers can get ahead of problems and fix them. If, however, there are issues with a specific piece of hardware—or you know one of your drivers has a security flaw that needs fixing—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 are a gamer and you have a dedicated graphics card from Nvidia or AMD, new drivers come out 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.

In most cases, updating a driver is simple. I don’t really recommend using separate “driver updater” tools; instead, you can do it yourself with just a few clicks.

Update Drivers with Windows Update

windows updates

Currently, the simplest way to update your drivers is through Windows itself. If the device manufacturer sends a driver update, you should get it through the official Windows Update. Windows 10 users can open Settings > Update & Securitythen click on the big one Check for Updates button. Hit the Install now button to download any available updates.

win 11 update

For those upgrading to Windows 11, go to Settings > Windows Update. Click Check for updatesthen choose Download and install next to any updates that are available. The screen can also check for updates automatically, or have an update ready and waiting.

Download Drivers From Manufacturer

    download page for Logitech's StreamCam

Download page for Logitech’s StreamCam (Credit: Logitech)

In most cases, this is all you need. However, these drivers often take a long time to reach Windows Update. Sometimes Windows only distributes a “generic” version from Microsoft that avoids additional features.

For example, generic mouse drivers will let you use your mouse, but won’t let you adjust its DPI settings or customize the buttons as well as software from Logitech. (However, generic Microsoft drivers tend to be very reliable, so unless you need extra features, it’s not a bad idea to keep what Microsoft can get you.)

To download a driver directly from the manufacturer, navigate to the product page for the device in question. Most websites have a Support or Download page where the appropriate driver can be obtained. For example, here is the download page(Opens in a new window) for Logitech’s StreamCam. Download the installer, and install it like you would any other program.

lenovo drivers

Lenovo support website (Credit: Lenovo)

If you have a laptop, you can always get drivers from the laptop manufacturer’s website—they are more guaranteed to work with your hardware, even if they are out of date compared to the drivers from the component manufacturer in question.

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Once you have installed the manufacturer’s driver software, you can update your drivers from within Windows. Open your system tray in the right corner of the Windows taskbar, right-click on the icon for the software in question, and open its main settings window.

For example, to update the drivers for my AMD Radeon graphics card, I right-click the Radeon Settings icon and select Open Radeon Settings. Within the application, there is an Updates tab that can search for and install new updates.

In rare cases, the driver does not come as an installer on the manufacturer’s website. Instead, it comes as a file that you have to install manually 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 on it, and select Update Driver. Then click Browse My Computer for Driver Softwareand navigate to the file you downloaded to install it.

If the driver is successfully installed, you should have all the latest features and bug fixes. If your drivers have additional software, you can access them from the system tray or Start menu, just like any other program.

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