3 ways to update drivers on Windows 10, and why you should keep drivers updated. How to safely update drivers

Using Windows Update in Windows 10 is an automatic set-and-forget solution. You don’t need a driver update tool as Windows has it built in.

10 Best Free Driver Updater Tools

Tim Fisher has over 30 years of professional experience in technology. He has been writing about technology for over two decades and serves as Lifewire’s vice president and general manager.

Jessica Kormos is a writer and editor with 15 years of experience writing articles, texts and UX content for Tecca.com, Rosenfeld Media and many more.

Driver update tools do exactly what you probably think – they help you update some or all of the device drivers installed in Windows for your computer’s hardware.

Our Top Picks

Best overall: Driver Booster

“. It makes it easy to update your drivers because it does all the hard work for you.”

Best for offline driver installation: Snappy Driver Installer

“Provides instant access to install updates – with or without an internet connection.”

The best info beyond the drivers themselves: DriversCloud

“Locates detailed hardware and software information, including outdated drivers.”

Best for Scheduled Driver Scan: Driver Easy

“Differs from some free driver update programs in that it can automatically check for outdated drivers on a schedule.”

We’ve tested each of them and can confirm that they are really free and do really offer driver downloads, not just scanning for potential updates like some “free” driver updates.

Use one and you won’t have to deal with Device Manager as much, nor will you have to find and download drivers from manufacturers’ websites.

If you prefer, you can also update Windows drivers manually.

Driver Booster

List of outdated and current Driver Booster drivers

Downloads drivers from the program.

Creates a restore point before updating drivers.

Scans for outdated drivers on a schedule.

No daily limit on driver downloads and updates

Includes offline updater.

Always shows a button to get the pro version.

It advertises other company programs as part of this.

Driver Booster is the best option. It’s compatible with all versions of Windows and makes it easy to update your drivers as it does all the hard work for you.

It works automatically to find out-of-date drivers, and with support for over 3 million drivers, there’s a good chance it will find what you need. When new updates are released, they are downloaded from within the program, so you can avoid having to manually download them from each manufacturer’s website.

Before installing the driver, you can see a comparison of the new version with the currently installed driver, which is helpful. Driver Booster creates a restore point before installing the driver in case something goes wrong with the installation.

There is also a built-in offline updater. From the tools category, select the offline option to export the driver information, and then open this file on a computer with a working internet connection. (See Driver Booster Offline Driver Update instructions for details.)

Other features are also available: restore drivers, uninstall drivers, ignore drivers, export driver list to text file, allow Game Boost to free up system resources, and view system information details.

Driver Booster works on Windows 11, Windows 10, Windows 8, Windows 7, Windows Vista and Windows XP.

It scans for drivers even when you’re not connected to the internet, which is useful if your network adapter driver isn’t working. After the offline scan is complete, the driver list is saved to a file that can be opened on a running computer to download the needed drivers.

Update Drivers on Windows 10 With Device Manager

To manually update the Windows driver, you must use Device Manager. To get started, please follow the steps below:

  1. Type “device manager” in the Start menu search bar and click Device Manager.
  2. Select the specific category of driver you want to update.
  3. Right-click the driver and select Update Driver.

Update the driver using the device manager

Then select Search for drivers automatically to proceed with the update.

Updating Windows drivers using the device manager

As you can see in my case, the best device drivers are already installed, so Windows can’t install anything new.

If Windows finds new drivers, they’ll be updated in seconds. However, if you cannot find any new updates this way and you are sure about new drivers, you can go to the manufacturer’s website and look for updates there, just like we did in the last method.

Update the Drivers Through Windows Update

Another approach to manually updating Windows drivers is to use Windows Updates. To get started, please follow the steps below:

  1. Open Windows Settings.
  2. Select Update & Security> Windows Update.
  3. Now click on View Optional Updates.
  4. Go to the Driver Updates tab.
  5. Check the driver you want to update and click Download and Install.

Updating the device driver with Windows update

Your new driver updates will be installed in seconds with Windows Update.

Just open NVIDIA GeForce Experience, AMD’s Radeon Software Crimson Edition, or Intel Graphics Control Panel, whichever is on your computer. They often appear in the system tray and can usually be found using the quick search in the Start menu.

How to reinstall a driver in Windows 10

If your device is not working properly, you may need to remove and reinstall the driver. The process is similar to updating a driver.

1. Re-open Device Manager by right-clicking the Windows icon and selecting Device Manager.

2. Use the menu to locate the device you want to reinstall. For example, to update an audio device, click the> arrow next to Audio Inputs and Outputs and locate the device in this list.

3. Right-click the device you want to reinstall and select Uninstall device from the menu. Don’t worry, your computer will be fine.

To reinstall a driver, uninstall the existing driver first and then restart your computer. Dave Johnson / Business Insider

4. Restart the computer. After your computer restarts, Windows will find your device and reinstall the latest driver.

What to do if your drivers aren’t updating automatically

If Windows doesn’t automatically update a driver that you think it should, Windows updates may be temporarily paused. You can check this and undo the pause if necessary.

1. In the search box of the Start button, type Windows Update and click Windows Update Settings when it appears in the search results.

2. Click Advanced Options.

3. In the Pause Updates section, check the date under Pause Until.

If Windows updates are paused, device drivers will not be installed automatically. Dave Johnson / Business Insider

4. If you see a date in the future, click the drop-down menu and select the earliest date (which should be tomorrow) to resume updates.

Dave Johnson is a technology journalist who writes about consumer technology and how the industry is transforming the speculative world of science fiction into real life today. Dave grew up in New Jersey before joining the Air Force to operate satellites, teach space operations, and plan space launches. He then spent eight years as content manager for the Windows team at Microsoft. As a photographer, Dave photographed wolves in their natural habitat; he is also a diving instructor and co-host of several podcasts. Dave is the author of over two dozen books and has contributed to numerous websites and publications including CNET, Forbes, PC World, How To Geek, and Insider.

Elden Ring, a much-anticipated title from legendary RPG developer FromSoftware, is about a month ahead of its release. It was revealed during the Taipei Game Show 2022 that the Elden Ring officially went gold and the team is currently working on a Day One patch.

How to Update Drivers in Windows

Tim Fisher has over 30 years of professional experience in technology. He has been writing about technology for over two decades and serves as Lifewire’s vice president and general manager.

Michael Heine is a CompTIA certified writer, editor and network engineer with over 25 years of experience working in the TV, defense, ISP, telecommunications and education industries.

What to Know

  • After the drivers are extracted, open Device Manager and navigate to the target device. Right-click and select Update Disk> Browse My Computer.
  • Select Let me pick from a list> Have disk> Browse> [INF file]> Open> OK. Select the newly added hardware> Next and the update will start.
  • Restart the computer after the update is complete.

You may need to update the drivers in Windows when a new piece of hardware is not working or after upgrading to a new version of Windows. Updating drivers can be a troubleshooting step when a device has a problem or generates an error such as a Device Manager error code. The updated driver may also provide new hardware features, just like with popular video and sound cards.

How to Update Drivers in Windows

These steps can be used to update drivers on Windows 11, Windows 10, Windows 8, Windows 7, Windows Vista, or Windows XP. Typically, updating a driver in Windows takes around 15 minutes. If you’d like to follow the process below, but with additional details and screenshots for each step, please use our Step-by-Step Guide to Updating Windows Drivers.

It’s not difficult to update your drivers yourself, but there are programs that will do it more or less for you. See our list of free driver update tools for reviews of the best ones.

Find, download and extract the latest hardware drivers. Always contact your hardware manufacturer first for an updated driver. When downloaded directly from your hardware manufacturer, you’ll know the driver is both correct and the latest for your hardware.​

If no drivers are available from your hardware manufacturer, check Windows Update or even the disk that came with your computer or hardware, if you got one. There are also some other options for downloading drivers if these ideas don’t work.

Many drivers are integrated with the software that automatically installs them, making the following instructions unnecessary. If nothing indicates this on the driver download page, it’s a good idea to manually install the driver, if it is in a ZIP format. Drivers obtained through Windows Update are installed automatically.

Open Device Manager. There are a couple of ways to get to Device Manager in Windows, but doing it from the Control Panel (the method described in the link) is fairly straightforward.

The Device Manager menu item in the Control Panel menu of the Start menu

Device Manager is one of the shortcuts in the Power User menu in Windows 11, 10 and 8. Just press WIN + X to open this handy utility.

After opening Device Manager, select the> or [+] icon (depending on the version of Windows) to open the category that you think contains the device for which you want to update drivers.

Down arrow button next to the list of driver categories in Windows 10

If you don’t find the device you are looking for, just open a few other categories until you do. Windows doesn’t always categorize hardware the way you think about the device and what it does.

Once you have found a device for which you are updating drivers, the next step depends on the version of Windows that you are using:

  • Windows 11, 10, and 8: Right-click or press and hold the hardware name or icon and select Update Driver (W11 / 10) or Update Driver Software (W8).
  • Windows 7 and Vista: Right-click the hardware name or icon, select Properties, then the Driver tab, and then the Update Disk button.

The Update Drivers or Update Driver Software wizard will start and we will go through it completely to complete the driver update for that piece of hardware.

You can also find BIOS and UEFI updates on the same page, but we don’t recommend installing them without a really good reason. How to update the BIOS – find all the answers by watching the video on our YouTube channel

Use the Manufacturer’s Website

For other drivers, go directly to the hardware manufacturer’s website. If you have a laptop or desktop ready, go to the manufacturer’s website and search for the driver download page for your specific computer model. You’ll usually find one website with a long list of drivers you can download. New versions of these drivers are posted on this website when they are available, and you will often see the dates for their submission so you know which ones are new.

This is also where you’ll typically find BIOS and UEFI firmware updates, but we don’t recommend installing them unless you have a really good reason to do so.

If you’ve built your own desktop computer, you’ll have to download drivers from the manufacturer of each component. For example, go to your motherboard manufacturer’s website and search for your specific motherboard model to find motherboard drivers. Repeat this process for each individual hardware component.

The good news is you don’t have to do most of it. Windows – especially Windows 10 – automatically updates drivers.

If you’re a gamer, you’ll need the latest graphics drivers. However, after you download and install them once, you’ll get a notification when new drivers are available so you can download and install them.

For other driver updates, you can simply check the manufacturer’s website for new versions. Usually this isn’t necessary and you don’t need to do so unless you have a specific reason to do so. Windows keeps your hardware drivers up-to-date.

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The good news is you don’t have to do most of it. Windows – especially Windows 10 – automatically updates drivers.

How to Update Device Drivers with Windows Update

On Windows 10, Windows Update will automatically download and install the latest drivers. Windows 7, 8, and 8.1 also update their drivers using Windows Update, but Windows 10 does it more persistently, and if you disable this feature, some difficulties may arise. To see how to turn off the automatic update of Windows 10, you can watch the video on our YouTube channel

Even if you have installed your own drivers, the operating system can automatically replace them when a newer version becomes available. By using Windows Update you can forget about searching and updating drivers, because this feature will do everything for you. You can see the latest updated rivers if you go to Settings / Update & Security / Windows Update.

Settings / Update and security / Windows Update

Click Update History

View the history of installed updates

A window will open where you can see all the updates or remove them.

Update history. A window will open where you can see all the updates or remove them

The only drivers Windows 10 may have trouble updating with are graphics drivers.

Updating Graphics Drivers

Updating your graphics drivers

You can use the utility provided with the drivers to check for updates and install them. These tools are provided by NVIDIA, AMD, and Intel that automatically check for and download the latest graphics driver updates. Just open the NVIDIA GeForce, AMD Radeon, or Intel graphics control panel, depending on what device is installed on your computer. Such tools are often found in the system tray or can be found using the quick search feature in the Start menu. The operating system does not update the graphics drivers every time NVIDIA or AMD releases a new version. Therefore, all PC gamers must take care of their hobbies.

Three ways to disable automatic driver update in Windows 10, 8, 7 🔄🚫💻

The program itself has a clean interface with several menu buttons. In the settings, there are options to change the download folder and disable checking for program updates.

How to update graphics drivers on Windows 10

Usually, if your graphics card is working, updating its driver is never a good idea. However, graphics card manufacturers are known to periodically roll out updates to improve user experience, support, bug fixes, and add more features, especially for games.

If you need to use the latest version of your graphics driver, instead of waiting for it to arrive at Windows Update, you can use the graphics card control panel from Nvidia, AMD, or Intel to download and install the latest updates.

You can use the links below to download the software for your brand:

Once you’ve downloaded the app, installation should be as simple as double-clicking the installers and going through the usual Next, Next, Next wizard. Once in the control panel, you can click the Check for Updates button in the drivers section to download and install the latest driver.

Nvidia driver application

source: Windows Center

Download graphics driver manually

If you don’t want to install other software, you should be able to download the latest graphics driver directly from the manufacturer’s support site.

The list below contains links to download the latest graphics card update directly from the manufacturer’s support site:

After downloading the package, use the manufacturer’s instructions to complete the update installation. If no instructions are available, it is usually enough to run the installer, go through a few clicks, and the wizard will automatically remove the old driver and replace it with the new version.

In case you are dealing with a .zip or a self-extracting package, you can refer to our previous steps to complete the driver installation using Device Manager.

Download graphics driver automatically

Alternatively, if you do not know the brand and model of your graphics card, some manufacturers often provide a tool to automatically detect the driver you need.

You can use the links below to download and run the Autodiscover and Install Assistant on your computer:

From the website, download the assistant, then double-click the executable and follow the on-screen instructions to complete the driver update.

If you are using an OEM device (such as Dell, HP, Lenovo, Asus, etc.), take into account that many manufacturers (especially Intel) modify their drivers to limit, extend or optimize the functionality of the integrated graphics card. This means that if you have a branded device, it is always recommended that you get the latest updates from your computer manufacturer’s support site rather than from Intel. Otherwise, the device may exhibit unexpected behavior, missing configurations, or you may not be able to access all features.

You can also check the device model and brand using Device Manager by following these steps:

  1. Open Start.
  2. Search for Device Manager and click on the highest result to open the tool.
  3. Expand the Graphics cards branch.

Confirm the make and model of your graphics card.

Device manager check the model and brand of the video card

How to determine if a driver updated successfully on Windows 10

After applying the update, you can check that the latest version was correctly installed using Device Manager.

To view details about the current driver version in Windows 10, do the following:

  1. Open Start.
  2. Search for Device Manager and click on the highest result to open the tool.
  3. Expand your branch with updated equipment.

Right-click the hardware and select Properties.

Device Manager properties option

source: Windows Center

Confirm the “Driver Date” and “Driver Version” information.

Device Manager checks the driver version

source: Windows Center

After you complete these steps, if these details match the information on the manufacturer’s support site, your device has the latest driver version in Windows 10.

If the driver did not update properly, repeat these steps one more time. If you still have the same problem, ask for help in the Windows Central Forums.

More Windows 10 resources

For more helpful Windows 10 articles, coverage, and answers to frequently asked questions, visit the following resources:

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