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  1. #1
    5 Star Lounger
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    How and when to update your system's drivers




    LANGALIST PLUS

    How and when to update your system's drivers


    By Fred Langa

    Third-party, automated driver-update sites sometimes cause more trouble than they cure but there are safer alternatives. Plus: What to do when XP's Windows Update fails; successfully reusing Office product keys after an upgrade; and small, nimble PDF readers.


    The full text of this column is posted at windowssecrets.com/langalist-plus/how-and-when-to-update-your-systems-drivers/ (paid content, opens in a new window/tab).

    Columnists typically cannot reply to comments here, but do incorporate the best tips into future columns.

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    I'll back up Henry S Winokur's suggestion for PDF X-Change Viewer. I gave up on Adobe several years back and I have been using Nitro PDF Reader since then but they have seemed uninterested in the free product and it was becoming slow to load so I changed recently to PDF X-Change Viewer and it has been all positive.

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    Lounge VIP bobprimak's Avatar
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    NitroReader works just fine for me, from a single-core, limited RAM Windows XP Pro 32-bit laptop through Windows 8 on a dual-core Toshiba Satellite laptop. I especially like being able to fill in PDF forms and modify text in most PDF documents. If they would include reliable OCR, they would have a product competitive with PDF X-Change, in my opinion.
    -- Bob Primak --

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    I've used PDF XChange for years now. I use to use Fox-it for a little while, but its way to slow for large files. I did some comparisons with opening large architectural drawings which Fox-it took over 30 seconds to fully load. PDF XChange did it in just 3 or 4 seconds. Even Adobe was lots faster.

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    Driver Update tools

    Thanks for the comments on PDF-XChange. I've been happily using Foxit for awhile but it's good to know about alternatives.

    I also recently explored Driver update tools after a friend's system was bluescreening over what was probably a driver issue, possibly from a Win Update. But which driver?? The crash logs were not clear. The free Slimdrivers worked like a charm, easily finding all the driver updates from the makers sites. It also allows rolling them back.

    I later ran the same on my own system and it found a couple of update sets that were important. (I do however recognize the admonition - if it ain't broke, don't fix it.)

    Later, I ran into a bluescreen issue on my own system and discovered a little gotcha with automated search tools. Slimdrivers had gone to the ATI site and updated ATI drivers for the ATI video chip. Only the video chip was on-board a Sony laptop in a Sony-specific scenario. Sony's site had NOT updated the chip drivers and their prior update was marked critical. When I installed these Sony-specific drivers, the problem was fixed.

    So, if you use a tool like Slimdrivers, it's great for stand-alone components and on-board standards like Intel chips. But be careful around onboard multimedia chips, most common on laptops. Ensure they're coming from the system maker rather than the chip maker.

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    5 Star Lounger Lugh's Avatar
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    Another vote for PDF XChange, upgraded to it from Foxit when I needed some extra functionality years ago. Excellent product.

  7. #7
    WS Lounge VIP mrjimphelps's Avatar
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    There is one additional situation, other than what is usually mentioned, where I will use Windows Update for a hardware update: if I have an internal NIC, and I absolutely can't find the driver for it.

    I temporarily install another NIC, so that I can get on the internet; I run Windows Update and scan for updates. Almost without fail, the driver for the internal NIC is listed. When I download and install it, and then remove the temporary NIC, the internal NIC now works!

    This is a lifesaver on laptops, where it isn't easy to replace the internal NIC.

  8. #8
    Super Moderator BATcher's Avatar
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    I note that PDF-XChange Viewer is yet another piece of software which attempts to install the Ask Toolbar. Even if you say No, you still get an icon on the (PDF-XChange) toolbar for Ask Search.
    BATcher

    Time prevents everything happening all at once...

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    That Ask icon is not the toolbar and is provided along with a list of 7 other search providers which are listed in alphabetical order. You can disable all searching by an Option setting. If having the Ask icon showing offends (I changed it) then click the dropdown arrow and select another. That adjustment is sticky. You can also change the order in which search providers are listed in the Options. I put Ask last. It is bad that the installer has the Ask toolbar selected for installation. Still if you want free then you have to be on your guard and never take the easy install.
    Bob
    Win 8.1 Pro - IE11, Office Pro 2013, Acronis TIH 2014
    Win 10 Pro preview 10162

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    Lounge VIP bobprimak's Avatar
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    Driver Update Tools

    Fred is right. Often, the "updates" found by these tools are generic driver packages, but my own systems do not have specific hardware which needs these updates. Just because there's a generic new version does not mean that all hardware included in the update needs a new driver.

    That said, if there is a problem with a piece of hardware, and if neither the manufacturer nor MS Updates has anything to fix it, a third-party tool like DriverMax may find something suitable. Then again, all that may happen is a new set of issues. Fortunately, DriverMax does have a rollback feature and can back up all current drivers, much more conveniently and reliably than a Windows System Restore Point usually does. That way, if anything goes South, one or more drivers can be restored from the DriverMax archives, or from an unZIPped version of them.
    -- Bob Primak --

  11. #11
    Lounge VIP bobprimak's Avatar
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    More on Driver Updates:


    IE 10 is coming to Windows 7, sp1, and there may be some laptop users who will need to update drivers for Graphics, or even get a BIOS Upgrade. This is another situation where drivers may need to be updated. Go to your hardware manufacturer's website to download only those drivers which are correct for your specific hardware.
    -- Bob Primak --

  12. #12
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    I have already installed IE10 for Win 7 sp1 on two machines. It's an easy install and it retains your previous IE9 settings where relevant. The big warning, for those who have win 8, is that Adobe Flash is just another add on and needs to be updated separately. It is no longer integrated as it is in IE10 for win 8.
    Bob
    Win 8.1 Pro - IE11, Office Pro 2013, Acronis TIH 2014
    Win 10 Pro preview 10162

  13. #13
    Super Moderator jwitalka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bobprimak View Post
    Fred is right. Often, the "updates" found by these tools are generic driver packages, but my own systems do not have specific hardware which needs these updates. Just because there's a generic new version does not mean that all hardware included in the update needs a new driver.

    That said, if there is a problem with a piece of hardware, and if neither the manufacturer nor MS Updates has anything to fix it, a third-party tool like DriverMax may find something suitable. Then again, all that may happen is a new set of issues. Fortunately, DriverMax does have a rollback feature and can back up all current drivers, much more conveniently and reliably than a Windows System Restore Point usually does. That way, if anything goes South, one or more drivers can be restored from the DriverMax archives, or from an unZIPped version of them.
    You don't need System Restore to roll back a video driver. Just boot into Safe Mode
    Open Device Manager
    Double click on your video card entry
    Click on the driver tab
    Click on the Roll Back Driver button
    Reboot and you're back to the previous driver.

    Jerry

  14. #14
    Lounge VIP bobprimak's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jwitalka View Post
    You don't need System Restore to roll back a video driver. Just boot into Safe Mode
    Open Device Manager
    Double click on your video card entry
    Click on the driver tab
    Click on the Roll Back Driver button
    Reboot and you're back to the previous driver.

    Jerry
    That may work if the problem is strictly a driver update. But the Platform Upgrade is more than that. This method will not work on some onboard chipsets, or if a graphics firmware component gets miscoded.

    With anything other than video, it is also possible to use Device Manager to uninstall the device and let Windows rediscover it, often resulting in a driver rollback along the way. But if graphics goes out, you may see no display, so this method is not good for graphics driver issues.
    -- Bob Primak --

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