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  1. #1
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    Please pardon the long post. I've done some looking around and not found a satisfactory answer. A link to a good answer would be a very satisfactory answer!



    I am a big fan of Secunia PSI, and I'm looking for a program that does for device drivers (and possibly BIOS and possibly firmware) what Secunia PSI does for software.

    I suspect the problem of finding updates for drivers is a lot more complicated because there are three sources for drivers. Note this is specifically for internal devices such as the chipset, audio, and network adapters; it's a bit different for external devices (peripherals) such as printers, scanners, and all-in-ones. (With these, the complication is that you need to decide if you want the big software packages -- suites -- or just the drivers. But that's another topic.) So, for internal devices, the driver sources are:
    • The original manufacturer of the device (such as Intel, NVidia, or RealTek).
    • The computer manufacturer (such as Dell or Acer) or motherboard manufacturer (such as Asus), who buys the device from the device manufacturer and might tailor the driver.
    • Driver web sites (like driverguide.com and driverzone.com). I don't trust driverguide.com. I used them a while ago and abandoned them. And their awards are all from 2004 or earlier (http://members.driverguide.com/index...__docs__awards).

    Also, driver version numbers are sometimes illogical -- I've seen missing numbers or numbers concatenated in device manager.

    I've seen the following driver update tools:




    I believe that right-clicking on devices in device manager and choosing "Update Driver" merely invokes Windows Update for that particular driver, whereas going to Windows Update (or Microsoft Update) and selecting Custom (I believe this is different in Vista and 7) scans your entire system for any driver updates known by Windows Update. More up-to-date drivers might be available at the computer manufacturer's support web site but in general you have to manually identify the version number currently installed on your system (using device manager, one by one). Computer manufacturers such as IBM and HP used to have online tools using activex controls -- or update programs installed on the system -- that would identify driver updates. I have seen the update programs state that there were no updates available when I could manually identify updated drivers on manufacturer support web sites.

    So, it's a mess, and I bet that one of the high-value skills of experienced computer techs/repair shops is the depth of experience in doing driver updates, particularly if they concentrate on particular manufacturers or product lines.


    Bob Stromberg (who should be outside enjoying the cool of the evening, taking a walk)
    Saratoga Springs and Salem, NY

  2. #2
    Super Moderator CLiNT's Avatar
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    You will not find a definitive & reliable program for updating drivers, with the exception of...
    Some manufacturers, like Lenovo business edition laptops, for example, will have a built in utility for updating drivers that is far superior to any installed 3rd party program.

    Personally, I'm a big fan of keeping ontop of my own hardware and deciding whether or not a driver update is actually needed.
    Many software programs like Driver Detective totally miss the mark and offer drivers that are not necessary, or just plain wrong.

    Driver to always keep updated: Chipset drivers.

    Drivers to look at prior to considering: BIOS, Network, Graphics (unless on-board), printers, scanners, CD/DVD ROM firmware,
    & Sound card (unless on-board).
    These drivers should either add functionality that you need, or fix an issue you may have, or just plain improve upon functionality.

    The computer's manufacturer should alway be the first place one goes for updated drivers, like Dell or HP.
    The second place to look for base drivers is the manufacturer of the motherboard based on exact make, model, and revision number.
    If one has added hardware, like a graphics card, printer/scanner, then their manufacturers should be queried for the latest driver.
    If the computer is home built, then the base drivers revolve around the make and model of motherboard and it's associated hardware.

    Always read the accompanying driver faq sheet or driver version update sheet. They are put out for a good reason.
    One good way to keep track of drivers is to download them into separate respectively named folders based on the specific drivers and store them in a secure location on a disk or partition. With 3 or 4 drivers in their own folders it becomes much easier to discern version numbers, as opposed to having them all lumped together.

    [base drivers]=Those that are critical motherboard based drivers
    DRIVE IMAGING
    Invest a little time and energy in a well thought out BACKUP regimen and you will have minimal down time, and headache.

    Build your own system; get everything you want and nothing you don't.
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  4. #3
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    Another driver site to try is www.ma-config.com/en/ Be very careful at any driver site that is not the manufacturer's, and this one is no exception, but it has found things that none of the others did. Not all of it is in english though. Like always, do a complete backup or better yet, a clone first.

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    hatsandcats (2011-04-21)

  6. #4
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    Thanks for the helpful link. I've used ma-config in the past and I tried it on a Gateway laptop I'm working on currently. The first driver update I tried (modem) was not correct, system restore and uninstall drivers did not correct the problem. That said, I'd love to develop experience with ma-config and learn what to avoid.

    Now I'm looking for a utility that can query the actual device rather than the registry (as, I believe, Belarc Advisor does). With a laptop I'm not keen on opening up the case and digging around inside just to find strange sequences of cryptic characters printed smudgily on tiny chips and PCBs under several layers of delicate components.

    Aha, look. It's sunny outside. Where do you want to go today?

    Bob (who spends too much time in front of computer displays)

  7. #5
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    I have since found that for computers that have Intel devices, the Intel site has a useful and careful driver scan utility:

    http://www.intel.com/p/en_US/support/detect

    I describe it as "careful" because it has several times indicated that a driver has been altered by the computer manufacturer (i.e. Dell, HP, Asus) and recommends going to the manufacturer web site for a properly tailored driver.

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