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:
- Driver Detective (plenty of negative reviews at http://www.softpedia.com/progViewOpi...ve-50576,.html AND at http://download.cnet.com/Driver-Dete...42.html#rateit)
- RadarSync (Cnet pans it: http://download.cnet.com/RadarSync-P...-10265194.html AND I had bad luck with it)
- PC PitStop's Driver Alert (http://www.pcpitstop.com/store/driverAlert.asp) which I have tried a year ago and abandoned. Many user reviews at download.com say it's fine but the editor's review points out that you need to pay for updates and it's not always correct. They say it's better to check it's work rather than trust it (http://download.cnet.com/PC-Pitstop-...-10907019.html).
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