Skip to main content

How to properly update device drivers on Windows 10

Windows 10 update drivers
Windows 10 update drivers (Image credit: Windows Central)

On Windows 10, a device driver is a collection of files with instructions that allows the system to interact with specific hardware (such as graphics card, storage drive, and network adapter) and peripherals, including mice, keyboards, printers, monitors, and many others.

Typically, the installation of drivers happens automatically using the built-in driver library and Windows Update. However, sometimes, you may still need to update some of the controllers manually for many reasons. For example, when Windows 10 cannot recognize a component, the device stops working after an upgrade, Windows Update installs a generic package, or you have to apply a critical fix or access a new feature quickly.

Whatever the reason, Windows 10 comes with several options to update a device driver, including using Windows Update, Device Manager, and auto-update assistants from device manufacturers.

In this Windows 10 guide, we will walk you through three methods to update hardware drivers on your laptop or desktop computer. Also, we outline the steps to determine whether the driver was applied successfully.

How to update drivers on Windows 10 using Windows Update

Although the latest updates for drivers take some time to appear on Windows Update, it's still the best approach to download and install them manually. This is not only because you are getting updates through a trusted platform, but also because only the compatible packages with your system will be available through the service, minimizing the chances of confusion, which can use many problems.

To update device drivers using Windows Update, use these steps:

  1. Open Settings.
  2. Click on Update & Security.
  3. Click on Windows Update.
  4. Click the Check for updates button (if applicable).
  5. Click the View optional updates option.

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)
  1. Click the Driver updates tab.
  2. Select the device driver to update on Windows 10.

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)
  1. Click the Download and install button.

Once you complete the steps, the newer driver will install automatically on the computer.

If the "View optional updates" option doesn't appear on the page, then Windows Update doesn't have any new drivers or any updates for other products at that particular time.

Mauro Huculak is technical writer for WindowsCentral.com. His primary focus is to write comprehensive how-tos to help users get the most out of Windows 10 and its many related technologies. He has an IT background with professional certifications from Microsoft, Cisco, and CompTIA, and he's a recognized member of the Microsoft MVP community.

13 Comments
  • What if you have an unknown device listed and you and windows have no clue if its a motherboard chip or a peripheral
  • Peripherals dissapear when you disconnect everything from the motherboard. Always setup everything with as few peripherals as possible, then connect external peripheral and check them one by one. If you are facing an unknown device, display its properties as shown in the article, then display the Details tab and select "Harware Ids" in the Property drop-down list. This should display its PnP identifiers in the form of a vendor unique id, a product or device unique id, and optionally, a revision number. It is a string such as VEN_8086&DEV_5926 or VID_xxxx&PID_xxxx.
    Search for that string online and you're very likely to find out which device it is.
  • ever heard of Snappy Driver?  
  • In my experience, "unknown" devices in Device manager will still install drivers when you do the Update Driver step.  If it does not, then it probably needs a vendor-specific driver (from Dell or Lenovo or whoever).  If that fails, then there probably is no driver available for Windows 10.   The 8.1 (or even 7) driver may work, but it is probably a device that is not really needed anyway.   I have seen this in Win 10 for an obsolete wireless device in a laptop.  Not wi-fi, but some other wireless tech that I can't recall now.  I remember looking it up at the time, and thinking "wow I've never heard of this.  No wonder it failed".  
  • I'm
  • Your keyboard needs a driver update.
  • I am having a strange thing happen sometimes when I sign in. We have several accounts on our home computer running 10 Pro. Often when I sign in, I will find that one of our family members is also signed in even though the computer was booted up from power off. It will warn me when I go to power it off. What causes two accounts to sign in simultaneously from a power off condition?
  • A running process in the background on both accounts, even though the other person hasn't signed in yet in their account. Usually an anti-virus program for instance.
  • Driver update is easy if you had build your system. It get tricky when you're using 3rd party PCs such as Dell or HP....The modified drivers come from their site after MS issues them publicly. In that case you still need to manually install using device manger but use "have disk" and point to location of folder that contains .inf. If you use Windows Update or use the peripheral website to install drivers, it goes through it but the new driver won't install because of the OEM restrictions!!!
  • Most OEMs distribute drivers with an installer.  You basically click setup.exe and it will update itself. Always get Driver updates from the OEM website.  People shouldn't *have*to be told this.  It's been this way for almost 2 decades.  It should be second-nature at this point (especially for millenials or younger PC users).
  • I just had to uninstall and go back to factory (shipped with my Notebook) Intel Drivers.  The version through the upadte application kept crashing.  It was awful. Whenever you update drivers from a downloaded driver package, I also suggest you disconnect from teh internet.  When you uninstall the old driver, Windows may be trying to install a WU driver while you're trying to install the driver package you downloaded.  This can completley break your install (in some cases, so bad that you have to manually uninstall the bits). Whenever you uninstall a driver, Windows triggers an automatic driver check from Windows Update.  It doens't let you know.  It doesn't notify you.  Any installs it attempts will be silent.  And often you can install other applications in parallel with it.  This can causes catastrophy if you're installing a driver package and then Windows Update replaces bits of it (but not all of it) with components from it's driver installation. This has been a huge issue since Windows 10 released.  On a gaming system, I don't want Windows Update installing or updating any drivers without my express permission, unless they are stock drivers developed by Microsoft and installed with the OS.
  • Microsoft should tell us that w10 actually runs smooth on SSD with 16GB ddr4 ram at least.
  • Why isn't it a good idea to keep video card drivers updated?