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Need to Update Device Drivers? Not so Fast

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How often do you update drivers for your business computers? Doing so can decrease headaches down the line but it can also introduce new issues. In a best case scenario, it can improve your computer’s performance without any hardware changes. But when it goes sideways, stability issues can arise. So when should you update drivers? We have several tips for when to update device drivers, and when it is best to leave them alone.

What is a device driver?

A driver is software that provides the operating system the ability to interact with a hardware device, such as a video card, network interface card, or printer. Almost every hardware component in and many connected to your computer run because of the device drivers. That also means that if something is wrong with your system, whether it be crashing or sluggish performance, it could be a driver issue.

When not to update drivers

Some users prefer to keep drivers always up-to-date while others almost never update them. So which one is better for business systems? As a general rule of thumb for business systems, don’t update a driver if the current version works just fine.

While new drivers do often improve performance, they can also introduce new issues. For example, NVIDIA’s Quadro 340.84 patch created performance issues as evidenced by the patch notes for driver version 341.21, which addressed the sluggish performance. Because stability should be a priority for business systems, constant driver updates aren’t advisable. Often, a minor bump in performance isn’t worth the risk of introducing new issues.

When to update drivers

So when should you update a device driver? Often a major onus for updating is when you’re experiencing stability issues or if the new version provides a major performance boost. For example, the NVIDIA Quadro 341.21 fixed the performance issues introduced by the previous version. In that case, upgrading to the new driver is highly recommended.

How do I update my device drivers?

There are several ways to find out if you have the latest drivers for your device. The easiest is if your existing driver includes an auto-update feature that automatically checks for the latest version. Another method is to use the Device Manager tool.

Via Device Manager

  1. The exact method to reach Device Manager varies depending on your operating system, but typically it can be accessed by right-clicking the Start menu.
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  2. In Device Manager, right-click the device and click Properties.
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  3. In the Properties window, click the Driver tab and the version number will be shown.
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  4. There are two common methods for updating device drivers.
    1. Once you know the current version of your driver, consult the manufacturer’s website to see if there is a new version.
    2. Alternatively, you can use the Update Driver function in the Properties.
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Conclusion

Unless your computer has stability and performance issues, you don’t need to update drivers. Doing so can create more problems rather than solving them.  If you are experiencing issues with a device driver, a best practice is to check a new driver’s patch notes to see if it specifically addresses your situation.

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Need to Update Device Drivers? Not so Fast - HardBoiled
Article Name
Need to Update Device Drivers? Not so Fast - HardBoiled
Description
Need to update your device drivers? You may want to rethink that, as it can introduce problems. We discuss when you should and shouldn't update drivers.
Author
Wallace Chu

Wallace Chu

A self-professed tech hipster that loves computers and music. Uses an iPhone ironically.

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