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.
Best source for finding hardware drivers
Reader Chuck Takacs is seeking the best way to keep his system drivers up to date.
- “Recently I’ve been updating all of my hardware drivers on my PC. But then I started looking for software or services for this task. I found two free ones, but I’m wondering whether there’s anything better out there?
“I’m hoping there’s an easy way to automate driver updating, just as Secunia PSI automates security updates. I was hoping it would be free, too, but I would be willing to pay a little for something that’s good!”
Is your hardware malfunctioning, Chuck? If it is, you have a good reason to try a newer driver. Otherwise, my personal rule of thumb is: If a driver ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
In fact, the only time I update hardware drivers is when either my hardware isn’t working properly or I’ve been notified that a current driver contains a serious security vulnerability. (I might also update drivers when preparing for an OS upgrade, as discussed in this week’s Top Story.)
If I do need to update a driver, I do so manually; I never let Windows Update — or any other tool — routinely or automatically update drivers on my systems. That’s because most drivers now ship in all-in-one software packages that cover multiple (perhaps dozens) of different products. A change in any one of the included products means the unified driver package gets a new version number — even if your specific driver hasn’t changed at all.