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Driver update utilities


Driver update utilities

Permalink 07:50:00 pm by Eugene Gardner, Categories: General, Articles

I have previously written about the waste of time and resources that are programs, usually initially free, that suggest they can improve performance, enhance your registry, or pretty much any other simple maintenance task.

There are a catagory of programs designed to help you maintain device drivers at the latest version. Sometimes they claim to fix problems by modifying drivers. Do not waste time or money installing any of them. Here's why.

A device driver is simply an interface between hardware and Windows. If the hardware works there is liitle scope for improvement. On a test system it has been shown that false concerns are raised by suggesting that old drivers are installed, but this is nothing more than a blatant attempt to upsell the paid version of the program.

The updater software suggests that old versions 'can cause problems, system slowdowns and bluescreen errors.' This is technically true, but very unlikely. It's also technically true that updated drivers could cause problems, system slowdowns, and blue-screen errors by introducing new bugs. It's a wash.

The fact is that with the possible exception of graphics drivers for hardcore gamers you don't need driver updates. Any necessary legitimate updates will arrive automatically via Microsoft Update so nothing further needs be done. If you have the urge to see what genuinely is running an old version it is a simple matter to manually run Device Manager then right click each device and 'Update Driver...'.

The concern is partly the waste of money and poor performance that is introduced but also the corruption that often occurs from installing the wrong driver. The difficulty is that to ensure you are not using Windows on more than the number of computers it is licensed for, Microsoft records some details of the hardware and firmware that are not usually changed and compares those each time Windows starts. If there is a difference then they assume that you are trying to run Windows on a different PC and cause the current installation of Windows to become marked as counterfeit. This results in all future genuine Windows updates failing and the computer becoming less secure.

Even worse, unsigned or correctly validated drivers run in protected (kernel) mode and do cause computers to fail to start. In this case reinstalling Windows will not help unless the disk is formatted first.

So the take away message is if it ain't broke don't fix it. If Windows is reinstalled from a generic disk then manufacturer supplied drivers will usually be better than Windows default, but using the right driver is far more important than using the latest version.

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