A driver is a software package that enables a hardware device to communicate with a computer operating system, enabling the correct functioning of the device. Over time, manufacturers of hardware devices keep on releasing upgraded drivers. These drivers ensure the continued effective operations of the hardware device, compatibility with updates made to the operating system, compatibility with important third party applications like MS Office, etc. However, it’s literally too much to expect busy end-users to invest their time in regularly searching for upgraded device drivers and installing them.
This is where Windows driver update programs emerge as a potential solution to the problem. Of course Windows’ Free Driver Update tool comes bundled with every Windows version, and can be used for driver upgrades. However, it’s considered pretty slow in its operations, and known to skip certain kinds of drivers in its upgrades. A reliable Windows driver update program can be a much better alternative. In this guide, we’ll cover 10 such free tools, highlighting the best features and concerns (if any), to help you shortlist the best ones.
Driver Booster – download
This is pretty much the only driver update software you’ll need for Windows. With Driver Booster, you can download new drivers in batches. Driver Booster ensures that device definitions are automatically updated, without the need to manually update the program after a new driver gets added to the database. In the Drivers Detail window, you can check the driver’s release date, version number, and size. It suppresses installer pop ups, making driver installation a breezy affair. You can also set your PC to automatically shut down or reboot once new drivers are installed. Driver Booster also indicates if you need updates to game components like Microsoft DirectX Runtime and Adobe Flash Player. This software also create a restore point before install a new driver to make sure that you have backup in case something goes wrong. It’s compatible with all Windows versions, so install it without any compatibility concerns.
Intel® Driver & Support Assistant (Intel® DSA) – download
Replacing the Intel® Driver Update Utility (IDUU) in September 2017, the all new Intel® Driver & Support Assistant (Intel® DSA) helps computer users search for latest Intel drivers. It works for graphics cards, Intel NUCs, Intel Compute Sticks, and wireless networking. This tool required Internet connection to work. This tool, once it identifies the updated driver version, lets you download the same, and installs it after seeking your permission. The best part – because this is an Intel sponsored tool, you can be 100% sure there will not be any risks of bundled spyware etc. in your installer package. Plus, this tool will not store any of your personal information.
Driver Talent – download
Here’s another freepower packed driver manager for Windows, supporting all versions from XP and onwards. With a Driver Talent scan, you will get a list of all broken, missing, and obsolete drivers for your PC. This software also looks for drivers for your PC graphics/video card, audio card, mouse, keyboard, network adapter (wired or wireless), and motherboard. The dree version of the software doesn’t automatically download the necessary drivers (you need the PRO version for that functionality). A pretty useful feature that Driver Talent offers is to save a driver pack for another PC. To do so, you will need to import the hardware profile of the target PC into the software and let it generate the driver pack info. Driver Talent can also prepare driver backups and allows restorations.
Double Driver – download
Double Driver is a super small and portable utility that can quickly examine all your drivers, and back them up to a file, for use and restore later. For anybody looking to update their Windows version to check stability, it makes sense to use this utility to take and xtract of all current compatible drivers. You don’t need to install Double Driver; it is an extractable app that you can simply execute. This tool doesn’t edit Windows Registry files without your permission. Single click is all you need to start a system wide scan. You can also print the list of drives and scan remote computers if you have admin access.
DriverIdentifier – download
Here’s a superb freeware tool to keep installed in your Windows PC. That’s because it works without Internet connection. So, if your network card driver is dysfunctional, you can still rely on this tool to run a scan and find out the problem. Just click on the ‘I don’t have an Internet connection’ button and you’ll be ready for an offline scan.
DriverIdentifier then creates an HTML file list for the drivers it scans. Once your PC gets Internet connectivity, the software checks the HTML file’s list with an online database, and puts up an Update button next to drivers that need to be updated. There is a portable version of this software available. It works with all Windows versions. However, users need to create a free online account with the software to use it.
Winzip Driver Updater – download
Winzip Driver Updater package has everything it takes to solve your Windows driver requirements. It’s single click driver installation option makes it fairly easy to use. Also, users can create driver backups before installing new versions, ensuring they have a safety mechanism in place, just in case a mew driver installation doesn’t go as planned. With the scheduling option of this software, you can set up pre-planned or periodic scans. One thing you’d want to be wary of with Winzip Driver Updater is that it’s not known for sure whether it fetches driver download links directly from manufacturer websites. So, be careful while installing a lesser-known driver. The software also keeps on throwing pop ups prompting users to purchase a license. However, because you’ll only be using the tool occasionally, that’s something you can live with.
Free Driver Scout – download
Trust Free Driver Scout automatically scans your PC for any driver updates. Then, it automatically downloads authentic drivers and installs them with minimal user intervention. You can set up automatic update installation via this tool, and can even download drivers in bulk. With Free Driver Scout, you can exclude device hardware from the scope of driver updates, so that they don’t show up as needing updates. This software’s driver backup and restore functionality is intuitive and powerful. You can create backups for all drivers and easily restore the backup versions in case you need to. Be careful though, it tries to install unrelated freeware on our computer during the installation.
Note: Another amazing bundled tool it offers, called OS Migration Tool, helps you create a custom backup of the drivers you will need, and save it to a custom location, such as a flash drive. You can then install the new OS, and use your backup to install device drivers without worrying about finding them again.
AMD Driver Autodetect – download
If you’re struggling in finding the right driver update for your computer’s graphics card, you need the AMD Driver Autodetect. It automatically identifies the model # of the graphics card in use in your computer, as well as the OS version. This info helps it to fetch the perfect driver upgrade. Remember that it runs only on Microsoft Windows OS and supports only AMD Radeon graphics. With this auto detect utility, you can download the latest driver and install it to correct and optimize your graphics card’s performance.
DriverMax – download
One of the lesser known problems in most Windows driver update programs is that they can skip some important drivers while scanning for outdated versions. This is where DriverMax emerges as a reliable solution. This software is among the best when it comes to reporting outdated drivers. It can then connect to valid web sources of drivers and automatically download them to your PC. However, this is where some of its limitations kick in. For instance, you can only download two drivers per day using this tool. Also, the monthly limit of downloads is 10. Considering you’ll not need to upgrade drivers often, this is something you can live with, but certainly not very convenient. DriverMax works with all Windows versions from XP onwards.
DUMo (Drivers Update Monitor) – download
DUMo (Drivers Update Monitor) enjoys good user reviews and ratings, because of its intuitive and easy to use interface. It detects all your installed hardware and detects the latest driver updates relevant to the hardware components. Plus, the driver suggestions are done with respect to the OS version. This tool exceeds at suggesting compatible drivers with high accuracy, and almost negligible number of false positives. However, it lacks the ability to provide direct link to manufacturer version of drivers.
Drivers are a key component of your computer’s performance. Ignoring driver upgrades can bring down your PC’s performance drastically in the long run. Thankfully, with the best Windows driver upgrade software at your disposal, you can ensure that your PC operating system remains updated to driver the max performance out of all connected devices.