A driver is a small piece of software that helps your PC communicate with a certain piece of hardware, like your mouse, keyboard, or printer. Every once in a while, though, those drivers may require updates to fix certain issues, introduce new features, or improve performance.
In general, you shouldn’t need to update your drivers very often. If your hardware is working as intended, it’s best to let it be, since new drivers can introduce problems as well as fix them. If, however, you’re having issues with a specific piece of hardware—or you know one of your drivers has a security flaw that needs fixing—it might be a good idea to update it.
There is one major exception to the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” rule: graphics drivers. If you’re a gamer and you have a dedicated graphics card from Nvidia or AMD, new drivers are coming out all the time with performance improvements for the latest games. If a game you play gets a performance bump from the latest driver, it’s worth updating to take advantage.
In most cases, updating a driver is very simple. I don’t really recommend using separate “driver updater” utilities; instead, you can do it yourself in just a few clicks.
Update Drivers With Windows Update
By far, the simplest way to update your drivers is through Windows itself. If the device manufacturer sends out a driver update, you should get it through an official Windows Update. Windows 10 users can open Settings > Update & Securitythen click the big Check for Updates button. hit the install now button to download any available updates.
For those who have upgraded to Windows 11, head to Settings > Windows Update. click Check for updatesthen choose Download & Install next to any updates that are available. The screen may also check for updates automatically, or already have an update ready and waiting.
Download Drivers From the Manufacturer
Download page for Logitech’s StreamCam (Credit: Logitech)
In the vast majority of cases, this should be all you need. However, these drivers can often take a long time to get to Windows Update. Sometimes Windows will only distribute a “generic” version from Microsoft that eschews extra features.
For example, generic mouse drivers will allow you to use your mouse, but may not allow you to adjust its DPI settings or customize buttons in as fine-grained a manner as software from Logitech. (Microsoft’s generic drivers tend to be very reliable, though, so unless you need those extra features, it’s not bad to keep what Microsoft gets you.)
To download the driver directly from the manufacturer, navigate to the product page for the device in question. Most websites will have a Support or Downloads page from which to grab the appropriate driver. For example, here’s the download page(Opens in a new window) for Logitech’s StreamCam. Download the installer, and install it like you would any other program.
Lenovo support website (Credit: Lenovo)
If you have a laptop, you can often get drivers from the laptop manufacturer’s website—they’re more guaranteed to work with your hardware, though they may be out of date compared to drivers from the manufacturer of the component in question.
Recommended by Our Editors
If you already have the manufacturer’s driver software installed, you may be able to update your drivers from Windows. Open your system tray in the right-hand corner of Windows’ taskbar, right-click on the icon for the software in question, and open its main settings window.
For example, to update the drivers for my AMD Radeon graphics card, I would right-click on the Radeon Settings icon and choose Open Radeon Settings. Within the application, there’s an Updates tab that can search for and install new updates.
In very rare cases, the driver won’t come as an installer on the manufacturer’s website. Instead, it’ll come as a single file you need to install manually through Windows’ Device Manager. To do this, open the Start menu, type “Device Manager,” and press Enter. Find your hardware in the list, right-click on it, and choose Update Driver. Then click Browse My Computer for Driver Softwareand navigate to the file you downloaded to install it.
Once the driver has been successfully installed, you should have all the latest features and bug fixes. If your drivers came with extra software, you can access it from the system tray or Start menu, just like any other program.
Like What You’re Reading?
sign up for Tips & Tricks newsletter for expert advice to get the most out of your technology.