A device driver is an essential piece of code that allows Windows 10 to interact with the components and peripherals (such as graphics cards, network adapters, mice, keyboards, and printers).

Windows automatically downloads and installs device drivers, which means that generally, you don't have to deal with them. However, there might be times when you need to install an update for many reasons. For example, when a piece of hardware isn't recognized automatically, suddenly stops working correctly, or a fix for a severe bug has released, or support for a new version of the OS is required.

In this Windows 10 guide, we'll walk you through the steps to successfully update hardware drivers on your computer.

How to update drivers using Windows Update

Using Windows Update is the safest way to get driver updates because the packages available through this channel have been verified and signed by Microsoft.

To download and install drivers updates automatically, do the following:

  1. Open Settings.
  2. Click on Update & Security.
  3. Click on Windows Update.
  4. Click the Check for updates button.

If the hardware manufacturer publishes its updates through the Windows Update service, and a new version becomes available, it'll download and install automatically on your computer.

The only caveat using this process is that it can take a long time until manufacturers make available a new update using this channel unless it's Microsoft hardware.

How to update drivers using Device Manager

You can also update a particular driver for a device, such as a printer, Wi-Fi adapter, sound card, monitor, and component using Device Manager.

Downloading drivers from Microsoft

To update a device driver using Device Manager, do the following:

  1. Open Start.
  2. Search for Device Manager, click the top result to open the experience.
  3. Expand the category with the hardware you want to update.
  4. Right-click the device, and select Update Driver.

  5. Click the Search automatically for updated driver software option.

Once you've completed the steps, if there's a newer version of the driver available will download and install automatically. (This process is similar to using Windows Update.)

Installing drivers manually

If no driver update is found and you know there is a new version, then you'll need to manually download the latest driver from your manufacturer support website and follow their instructions.

In the case, there are no instructions, and you got a .exe or .zip file with the driver, then double-click the .exe self-extracting package or use this guide to extract the content of the .zip compressed file, and then do the following:

  1. Open Start.
  2. Search for Device Manager, click the top result to open the experience.
  3. Expand the category with the hardware you want to update.
  4. Right-click the device, and select Update Driver.

  5. Click the Browse my computer for driver software option.

  6. Click the Browse button.
  7. Browse and select the main folder with the content you have extracted earlier.
  8. Click OK.
  9. Check the Include subfolders to allow the wizard to find the correct .inf file with the instructions to update the driver.

  10. Click the Next button.

After completing the steps, the newer version of the driver will install on your computer for the device to address issues, introduce new functionalities, or add support for your version of Windows 10.

Usually, you would use this method when updating drivers for older hardware or printers.

How to update graphics drivers on Windows 10

While it's typically not recommended to update drivers unless it's necessary, graphics card manufacturers release new drivers frequently to improve performance and fix bugs with certain games.

If you have to install the most up-to-date driver for your graphics card, instead of waiting for it to be available in Windows Update, you can use the control panel software from companies like AMD, Nvidia, and Intel to update your graphics card depending on the brand you use.

These applications are very straightforward to install and use. It's just the matter of downloading, going through your typically next, next, next, installation, and then check for updates.

Alternatively, you can download the latest driver directly from your manufacturer support website and follow their instructions.

It's important to note that PC manufacturers (such as Dell, HP, Lenovo, Acer, Asus, and others) can modify Intel's drivers to add or remove functionalities. This means that if you have a branded device, it's recommended to download the latest graphics update from your manufacturer first instead of Intel. Otherwise, unexpected behaviors, such as loss of features and configurations can be expected.

How to verify driver has updated successfully

If you want to make sure you're using the most up-to-day version of the driver, you can check the driver version and date using the following steps:

  1. Open Start.
  2. Search for Device Manager, click the top result to open the experience.
  3. Expand the category with the hardware you updated.
  4. Right-click the device, and select Properties.

  5. Click on the Driver tab.

In the "Driver" tab, note the "Driver Date" and "Driver Version" information. If these details match the information provided by the manufacturer, then you're running the latest version.

Alternatively, you can check this information before updating the device driver, and if the date and version information increases, then you've successfully updated the hardware driver.

Wrapping things up

Although Windows 10 does a good job automatically configuring new hardware and peripherals if you're experiencing problems you may need to update a driver manually.

Just remember that if you're using a branded laptop, tablet, or desktop, it's best to first download the driver update from your PC manufacturer support website. Then if the update doesn't fix the issue, you should try getting the latest driver from the hardware part manufacturer website.

More Windows 10 resources

For more helpful articles, coverage, and answers to common questions about Windows 10, visit the following resources: