Drivers are configuration files that operate your hardware and devices. The method for installing drivers has gotten much simpler with your operating system managing the bulk of the task, over time. Still, knowing just how to upgrade your drivers yourself can help to keep your computer running smoothly as possible.

How to find and update drivers for Windows

1 Open the Windows Update utility. Windows Update can automatically handle most of your driver upgrades for you. There are several ways to open Windows Update:
Any version of Windows – Open the Control Panel, select “Large icons” or “Small icons”, and then open the “Windows Update” option.

Control Panel Update Windows

Windows 8 – Open the Charms bar and select Settings. Select “Change PC settings” and then select “Update and recovery”. Select the “Windows Update” option.

2 Review any available updates. Click the “Review important updates” and “Review optional updates” links to see the different updates which have been found by Windows Update.

Review any available updates

Hardware drivers may be found in both sections. The very top of the list is reserved for software updates, while hardware drivers will be shown by the base of the the list.

3 Install any updates that are available. Check the boxes for all the updates you need to install and click the Install button. The update installation process may take a while to finish, and you may be prompted to reboot your computer.

Reboot computer after drivers update

4 Open the Device Manager if Windows Update doesn’t locate your drivers. The next step is to determine what needs to be updated if Windows Update didn’t install all of the drivers you need. The Device Manager is the easiest way to see all your installed hardware, especially if you do not have any of the instruction manual of your computer.
To immediately open the Device Manager, pressĀ  Win + R and type devmgmt.msc

5 The Device Manager is a record of all your installed hardware parts. Anything that’s not operating properly will have a small yellow “!” icon next to it, and unknown parts are going to have little “?”.

Windows 8 device manager

6 Right-click on an item and select “Update Driver Software”. Select “Search automatically for updated driver software”. Windows will hunt online for a later version of the driver applications. You will be prompted to install them, if newer drivers are found.
Windows WOn’t always find the most updated driver version. This really is especially normal for hardware which gets upgraded drivers on a regular basis, for example graphics cards. If Windows reports that your device is up to date, it may still be worth checking manually.

Search automatically for updated driver software

7 Identify the model of hardware that will not upgrade. If newer drivers are found by Windows cannot mechanically, you will have to download the drivers from the manufacturer yourself. In order to get this done, you will have to be aware of the manufacturer and version of the hardware in question.

hardware name in Device Manager

In case the hardware is recognized by Windows, you will be able to see the hardware name in Device Manager. If the hardware is unrecognized, you will need to do a little digging.

  1. Right-click on the unrecognized hardware and select “Properties”.
  2. Click the Details tab and select “Hardware Ids” from the drop-down menu.
  3. Right-click on the top most entry in the list that appears and select “Copy”.
  4. Paste the copied text into your favourite search engine. The first few results will typically enable you to figure out what the hardware manufacturer and version is.
  5. When it really doesn’t help you ascertain the piece of hardware, you’ll need to refer to your computer’s instruction manual or the computer that is open and visually identify the piece of hardware.
8 Visit the support page of the hardware manufacturer. Once you know the maker and version of the hardware you are trying to upgrade, you can download the latest drivers directly from the Maker ‘s support page. Here are a few of the most typical support sites for the major manufacturing companies:

Motherboards:

Graphics:

Notebooks:

Network Cards:

Optical Drives:

Peripherals:

9 Search for your hardware version in the support site. Use the support website’s search function to locate your version, or browse through the different models. Some sites will have an auto-detect feature, which can help you locate the exact driver.

10 Download the driver files. Many drivers come as installers (.exe files), or are packaged with software created for the hardware. Elderly or less common devices could have drivers in .zip format. Occasionally the hardware’s accompanying applications will probably be recorded individually from the drivers.

11 Run the installer or extract the files. In the event you downloaded an .exe file, you can run it and follow the installer’s prompts to install the drivers. In the event you downloaded a .zip file, double click it to open it, copy the files into an easy-to-access folder, and read on. You’ll likely be prompted to reboot your computer after the installation is complete.

Unless you desire it you typically do not need to install any of the additional applications.
12 Manually install the drivers. If the drivers came in a .zip file, you’ll need to install them manually. You can do this from the Device Manager. Open the Device Manager, right-click on the hardware, and select “Update Driver Software”. Choose “Browse my computer for driver software”. Browse to the location that you copied the driver files to and choose the .inf file that matches your operating system.

Browse my computer for driver software

How to find drivers for Mac OS X

1 Click the Apple menu. All driver updates are managed through Apple’s Software Update tool. Download and you won’t have to locate drivers yourself.

Apple's Software Update tool

2 Select “Software Update”. Watch for Apple to load a list of available updates.

 

3 Click the “Update” button next to the driver you need to install. You may also click “Update All” to automatically install everything on the list.

How to update drivers for Linux

1 Open the Added Drivers tool. Linux contains drivers for most common system hardware, such as network adapters, USB, optical drives, and much more. Some hardware manufacturers, notably graphics card manufacturers, release proprietary drivers that need to be installed. You can perform this from the Additional Drivers tool in Ubuntu-based distributions.
Open the Dashboard and search for “additional drivers” to open the utility.

 Additional Drivers tool in Ubuntu

2 Choose the drivers you want to utilize and click “Apply Changes”. Ubuntu will begin downloading and installing the driver files. Make sure to pick the most recent available version if multiple versions are listed.

3 Open the Terminal to install printer drivers. As many aren’t configured to support it, configuring printers on Linux may be annoying. You can make use of the automated configuration tool to attempt to find and download the correct drivers.
Open the Terminal by pressing Ctrl + Alt + T.
Type system-config-printer and press Enter. Follow the prompts to recognize the printer and download the proper files.

Follow the prompts to recognize the printer and download the proper files.

4 Hunt for hardware-specific guides online. The method for installing drivers is generally unique for each distinct piece of hardware. You can generally find guides for installing drivers on the Maker ‘s support page or in Linux user forums.