?Update Driver Definition: A driver is a small piece of software that tells the operating system and other software how to communicate with a piece of hardware. For example, all printers come accompanied with drivers to install that tell the operating system exactly how to print information on the page. Sound card drivers tell your software exactly how to translate data into audio signals that the card can output to a set of speakers. The same applies to video cards, keyboards, monitors, etc. ###/# The drivers for each piece of hardware in your Windows computer are centrally managed from Device Manager, available in all versions of Microsoft Windows. Here's How In Vista: 1. Download the latest drivers from the hardware manufacturer's website. Drivers from the manufacturer will be the most current but there are several other driver download options. As part of this driver update process, you can choose to update drivers from a hardware installation disc or from Windows Update but updating drivers manually (as described below) is usually more effective. Note: Many drivers come integrated with software that automatically installs the driver. The manufacturer's website will tell you if the driver download is packaged this way and if so, the steps below aren't usually necessary. 2. Open Device Manager from the Windows Vista Computer Management utility. Note: There are also several other ways of opening Device Manager. 3. With Device Manager open, locate the hardware device that you want to update the drivers for. Note: Navigate through the categories of hardware devices by clicking the [+] icon. Specific hardware devices are listed under the major hardware categories. 4. After finding the hardware you're updating drivers for, right click on the hardware's name or icon and choose Properties. In this Properties window, click the Driver tab. 5. Click the Update Driver... button. Note: The Update Driver Software wizard will begin. 6. On the How do you want to search for driver software? window, click on Browse my computer for driver software. 7. In the next window labeled Browse for driver software on your computer, click on Let me pick from a list of device drivers on my computer, located at the bottom of the window. 8. Click the Have Disk... button located under the text box. 9. Click the Browse... button on the Install From Disk dialog box that appeared. In the Locate File dialog box that appears next, navigate to the folder that you extracted as part of the driver download in Step 1 above. There may be multiple folders within the extracted folder so be sure to work your way to the one for Windows Vista if it exists. Don't worry if you don't find one labeled for Vista. 10. Click the INF file that displays in the file list and click the Open button. Note: INF files are the only files that Device Manager accepts for driver setup information. See the tips at the bottom of the page for some INF file troubleshooting. 11. Click the OK button back on the Install From Disk dialog box. 12. Choose the newly added hardware in the text box and then click the Next > button. If you're prompted with a message warning you about how the device driver may not be compatible with your hardware, click the Yes button to continue installing the driver. Many drivers are not Windows Vista certified but are still perfectly safe to install. Important: If you're installing a driver obtained from anywhere other than the manufacturer of the hardware, click the No button instead and obtain drivers from the manufacturer directly. 13. The Windows Vista Update Driver Software wizard will now use the instructions provided in the INF file from Step 10 to install the updated drivers for your hardware. 14. Follow any additional instructions on screen to complete the driver update. 15. You may be prompted to restart your computer after the driver update is complete. Note: Not all driver updates require a restart of your computer. Even if you're not prompted, I always recommend restarting anyway. The driver update process involves changes to the Windows Registry and other important areas of your computer and restarting is a good way to confirm that updating drivers hasn't negatively impacted some other area of Windows. If a driver update causes a problem, you can always roll back the driver. Tips: 1. Couldn't find an INF file in a folder from your driver download? Try looking in another folder. 2. Couldn't find an INF file in any folder from the extracted driver files? The driver download itself may have been damaged. Try downloading and extracting the device drivers again. 3. Find multiple INF files in a folder from your driver download? Try each file until the drivers for your hardware are properly installed. To manually update drivers In XP: It's best to let Windows install drivers for your hardware automatically. You should avoid manually updating a driver unless Windows is unable to find a driver for one of your devices but you were able to obtain one some other way, or if technical support personnel ask you to install drivers from a disc or from the device manufacturer's website. If you decide to manually update a driver, here's how: You must be logged on as an administrator to perform these steps. 1. Open Device Manager by clicking the Start button Picture of the Start button, clicking Control Panel, clicking System and Maintenance, and then clicking Device Manager. Administrator permission required If you are prompted for an administrator password or confirmation, type the password or provide confirmation. 2. In Device Manager, locate the device you want to update, and then double-click the device name. 3. Click the Driver tab, and then click Update Driver and follow the instructions.
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