Now you need to download the new drivers. Before you do that, though, let’s take a moment and make sure you stay organized. Open up Windows Explorer and create a new folder called Drivers. in this folder, create subfolder for each one of the items on your list. Name them either after the category (video, printer, sound, etc.) or name them after the manufacturer (HP, Creative, ATI, etc.).

Get the Driver

To your list you should add now the URL (web site address) for each of the manufacturers web sites. To get you started, you can find some of the more popular ones by clicking here. Normally, you’ll find the URL listed in the manual that came with your component. If you don’t have the manual, make an educated guess. A lot of times the URL is the same as the company name, e.g. Microsoft’s URL is If that does not work, use a search engine such as Yahoo or Infoseek or Excite to find the site. If you still can’t find it, you might either have a component from a small company that does not even have a site or online support, or from a company that went out of business. This is one reason why I usually recommend to spend a few extra dollars on the brand name component because it will increase your chances of getting support and being able to download updated drivers.

Once you found the web sites, look for a section titled Support, Technical Support, Customer Support, Drivers, Files, or Download. That’s where you will most likely find what you are looking for. Now look for the driver, usually they are sorted by model and relatively easy to find. Be sure to get the right one that matches your component and also matches your operating system. Download the driver into the appropriate folder on your hard drive. If there is a readme file or download/installation instructions, be sure to either download them as well or print them out. Each company handles driver updates a little different and this information is important.

Install the Driver

After downloading the driver, open Windows Explorer again and navigate to the folder that contains the driver file. Usually it is an .exe file meaning an executable program, or a .zip file meaning a compressed archive file. By double-clicking the drivers are unzipped into the directory. Here is where you should start reading the instructions because there are two main ways of updating a driver.

The first way is to double-click on a setup.exe file that came with the driver. This will start an automated driver installation which is usually the easiest way because you only have to click “Next” or “Accept” a few times and the setup program will do the rest for you.

The other way is to go to Start/Settings/Control Panel, double-click on System and select the Device Manager tab. Double-click on the line of the category you want to update, then double-click on the line with the description of the device. That brings up the device properties. In this Properties window, click the Driver tab. There you will see a button called Update Driver that you click. This will start a wizard to help you update the driver. Click Next to continue. You will be presented with two options: Either let Windows search for a better driver or Display a list of drivers in a specific location. Choose the second one and click Next to continue. In the next dialog, look for the button Have Disk and click it. This tells Windows not to use any of the generic Windows drivers but to let you supply a driver – the one you just downloaded. You will yet another dialog where you select the Browse button. Use this feature to direct Windows to the directory containing the driver files and push OK. Windows will now know to use that driver and copy the appropriate files into the appropriate locations and make the appropriate updates. When it’s done, you usually will be prompted to restart your PC for the changes to take effect. Be sure to do so.

Once the PC is rebooted and back to the Windows desktop, you’re done. Wasn’t that hard now, was it? Once you’ve done it a few times, it becomes easy. Just remember to stay organized, do this frequently, follow the instructions, and you’ll be fine.

Do this once a year for every item on your list and you are maintaining a healthy system with less chances of problems.

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