How to Check If Your Computer’s Device Drivers Are Up-to-Date

Key takeaways:

  • Outdated or missing device drivers can cause performance issues, crashes, and security vulnerabilities
  • You can check for driver updates using Windows Update, Device Manager, or the manufacturer’s website
  • Updating drivers regularly ensures optimal hardware functionality and compatibility with your operating system
  • Use caution when downloading drivers from third-party websites, as they may contain malware or incorrect versions

Device drivers are essential software components that enable your computer’s hardware to communicate with the operating system. They are responsible for the proper functioning of devices such as graphics cards, sound cards, network adapters, printers, and more. Keeping your device drivers up-to-date is crucial for maintaining your computer’s performance, stability, and security.

Why Updating Device Drivers Is Important

Outdated or missing device drivers can lead to various issues, including:

  • Poor performance: Outdated drivers may not be optimized for the latest software and hardware, resulting in slower performance and reduced functionality.
  • System crashes: Incompatible or corrupted drivers can cause system instability, freezes, and crashes.
  • Security vulnerabilities: Outdated drivers may contain known security flaws that can be exploited by hackers to gain unauthorized access to your system.
  • Hardware malfunctions: Incorrect or outdated drivers can cause hardware devices to malfunction or stop working altogether.

By keeping your device drivers up-to-date, you can ensure that your hardware is functioning optimally and compatibly with your operating system and software applications.

Methods to Check for Driver Updates

There are several ways to check if your computer’s device drivers are up-to-date:

1. Windows Update

Windows Update is a built-in feature that automatically downloads and installs recommended driver updates for your hardware devices. To check for driver updates using Windows Update:

  1. Open the Start menu and click on the Settings icon (gear icon)
  2. Click on “Update & Security”
  3. Click on “Windows Update” in the left sidebar
  4. Click on “Check for updates”
  5. If any driver updates are available, they will be listed under “Optional updates”
  6. Click on “Download and install” to update your drivers

2. Device Manager

Device Manager is a built-in Windows utility that allows you to manage the hardware devices connected to your computer. To check for driver updates using Device Manager:

  1. Right-click on the Start menu and select “Device Manager”
  2. Expand the category of the device you want to update (e.g., Display adapters, Sound, video and game controllers, etc.)
  3. Right-click on the specific device and select “Update driver”
  4. Choose “Search automatically for updated driver software”
  5. If a new driver is found, follow the on-screen instructions to install it

3. Manufacturer’s Website

You can also visit the device manufacturer’s website to download the latest driver software for your specific hardware model. This method is particularly useful if you have a less common device or if you need a specific driver version that is not available through Windows Update or Device Manager.

  1. Identify the exact model of your hardware device
  2. Go to the manufacturer’s official website and navigate to their support or downloads section
  3. Search for your device model and download the appropriate driver for your operating system
  4. Follow the installation instructions provided by the manufacturer

Precautions When Updating Drivers

While updating device drivers is generally beneficial, there are some precautions you should take:

  • Always download drivers from trusted sources, such as the manufacturer’s official website or through Windows Update. Third-party driver download websites may contain outdated, incorrect, or malware-infected drivers.
  • Create a system restore point before updating drivers, so you can roll back to a previous state if something goes wrong.
  • Do not update drivers if your hardware is functioning properly, unless you are experiencing specific issues or need to access new features.
  • Restart your computer after installing driver updates to ensure the changes take effect.

By following these guidelines and regularly checking for driver updates, you can keep your computer running smoothly and avoid potential hardware and software issues.


How often should I update my device drivers?

It’s a good practice to check for driver updates at least once a month, or whenever you encounter performance issues or hardware malfunctions. However, if your system is running smoothly, you may not need to update your drivers as frequently.

Can I update all my drivers at once?

While it’s possible to use third-party driver update software to update all your drivers simultaneously, it’s generally safer to update drivers individually through Windows Update, Device Manager, or the manufacturer’s website. This approach allows you to identify and address any potential issues more easily.

What should I do if a driver update causes problems?

If a driver update causes system instability, crashes, or hardware malfunctions, you can try rolling back to the previous driver version. To do this, open Device Manager, right-click on the problematic device, select “Properties,” click on the “Driver” tab, and then click on “Roll Back Driver.” If this option is not available, you can try uninstalling the device and then letting Windows automatically reinstall the driver.

Can outdated drivers cause security issues?

Yes, outdated drivers can contain known security vulnerabilities that hackers can exploit to gain unauthorized access to your system. By keeping your drivers up-to-date, you can help protect your computer from potential security threats.

Should I use third-party driver update software?

While third-party driver update software can be convenient, it’s essential to be cautious when using these tools. Some driver update programs may contain malware, install incorrect or outdated drivers, or charge you for services that you can perform manually for free. It’s generally safer to stick with updating drivers through Windows Update, Device Manager, or the manufacturer’s official website.