How to do driver update on your Windows PC [troubleshooting guide]

If you’ve been using a computer for some time, you must probably heard of drivers and the need to update them. But what exactly is a driver. Well, to put it in simple terms, a driver is a separate software component that makes communication between your Windows operating system and device to communicate. It’s like a middle man that facilitates requests from the operating system reach the device and vice versa. For example, an application such as a game may require some specific data from the GPU or video card. First, the app will tell the operating system what it needs, then the operating system tells the driver what it wants the graphics card to in turn. The driver then tells the device (graphics card) what the operating system wants. Once the driver gets the data from the graphics card, the process is reversed until the data reaches the requesting app. Hardware manufacturers often write drivers for their own devices although sometimes, Microsoft can also write the drivers itself, especially if the device was built by a third party manufacturer but followed a certain standard in building it.

It must also be noted that not all drivers are built for hardware. In fact, a lot of drivers are not associated with any hardware device at all. Some drivers are meant to help some software tools and they’re called software drivers. Such a driver is not designed to work with a hardware device. However, most of the time, driver-related problems in the context of Windows troubleshooting often involves drivers for hardware, which are the ones we’re trying to address here.

If you’re reading this far, you must be desperate for information on how to update  a driver of your computer. So, let’s not waste your time and go to business right away.

Before we proceed to the main topic, we would like to remind you that we accept requests for assistance regarding their Windows computers. If you have a problem that you can’t seem to find a solution to, send us your issue by following the link at the bottom of this page. Just remember, windows problems can sometimes be difficult to diagnose so kindly make sure that you give us very detailed description of the problem. You want to mention relevant history that may have led to the issue. The more information that you can provide, the higher the chance of us diagnosing the issue more efficiently. We also expect that you mention whatever troubleshooting step/s that you may have done before contacting us in order to prevent repeating them in our article. Again, the more details you can give us, the faster it is for us to pinpoint the cause and its corresponding solution.

How to set your computer to automatically download drivers

Chances are your computer is already set to receive recommended drivers and updates for your hardware. This is how Windows set itself up when installed but if you happen to inherit a computer, or if you changed some Control panel and Device Manager settings before, it may be worth checking if your PC is set to automatically get drivers and updates for your hardware. Like software, hardware updates are also necessary to fix known bugs and to optimize performance and Microsoft is wise enough to allow your machine to skip bothering you about the need to update your machine.

In order to set Windows to download updates on its own, you must check Windows Update feature. Here’s how:

  1. Click the Start button and go to Devices and Printers.
  2. On the Start menu, click Devices and Printers.
  3. Right-click the name of your computer.
  4. Click Device installation settings.
  5. Click Yes, do this automatically (recommended).
  6. Click Save changes. If you’re prompted for an administrator password or confirmation, type the password or provide confirmation.
  7. If Yes is already selected, click Cancel to close the dialog box.

If you don’t want to allow Windows to download and install drivers for some reason, you can always do it yourself manually anytime. Below are the steps on how to do it.

How to manually update a device driver in Windows 7 PC

  1. Swipe in from the right edge of the screen, and then tap Search. (If you’re using a mouse, point to the lower-right corner of the screen, move the mouse pointer up, and then click Search.)
  2. Enter Device Manager in the search box, and tap or click Device Manager.
  3. Open Device Manager.
  4. Double-click the type of device you want to update or change.
  5. Right-click the device you want, and then click Update Driver.
  6. Follow the instructions in the Update Driver Software wizard.

How to manually update a device driver in Windows 8 and 8.1 PC

  1. Swipe in from the right edge of the screen, and then tap Search. (If you’re using a mouse, point to the lower-right corner of the screen, move the mouse pointer up, and then click Search.)
  2. Enter Device Manager in the search box, and tap or click Device Manager.
  3. In the list of hardware categories, double-tap or double-click the category your device is in and then double-tap or double-click the device you want. For example, to see your video card, tap or click Display adapters, and then double-tap or double-click the video card name.
  4. Tap or click the Driver tab, tap or click Update Driver, and then follow the instructions. Administrator icon You might be asked for an admin password or to confirm your choice.

How to manually update a device driver in Windows 10 PC

  1. Click on the Start  button.
  2. Open Device Manager by typing “Device Manager”
  3. Once the list of items appears, select Device Manager from the list of results.
  4. Expand one of the categories to find the name of the device that needs a new driver
  5. Right-click (or tap and hold) the item.
  6. Select Update Driver Software. (For graphics cards, expand the Display adapters category, right click your graphics card and select Update Driver Software).
  7. Select Search automatically for updated driver software.

It can sometimes take several minutes to download a driver so just let the computer do its job.

Do not install unsigned or unsafe drivers

If you’ll get a message or notification that a driver you’re about to install is unsigned, can’t be installed by Windows, or has been changed, that can be an indication that Microsoft does not recognize it and hence unsafe. Be sure not to install unsigned or modified drivers.

Drivers from official sources like those provided by manufacturers includes a digital signature unique to that manufacturer or publisher. A digital signature means that the driver publisher has been cleared by a certification authority and that its identity has been verified. If that mark or digital signature is changed or tampered with, there’s a possibility that such driver comes from a malicious third party and installing it may compromise the security of your computer.

If you happen to encounter this issue when installing a driver for a device, you should stop the installation right away and go to the manufacturer’s website to download the clean driver. For example, if you’re getting a notification about an unsigned driver for your NVIDIA graphics card, make sure to visit NVIDIA’s official website and download the driver from there.

There are usually three kinds of notifications when installing a driver. We give you a brief explanation of each one below.

Windows can’t verify the publisher of this driver software

This notification does not necessarily indicate that you’re trying to install an unsafe driver. If your IT department or system administrator provided the driver to you, such driver may not be digitally signed by a certification authority. In this case, it’s okay to install it. The same thing can happen sometimes if you install a driver directly from a disc that comes with your computer. This means that the manufacturer did not have the driver validated by a certification authority. However, try to avoid installing drivers from unknown sites from the internet or from other third party sources.

This driver hasn’t been signed

This notification, like the first one above, may not necessarily mean that the driver is bad. Some manufacturers may change digitally signed drivers after some time. If you get the driver from a manufacturer’s disc, it should be safe.

On the other hand, if the driver is sourced from an unknown website, it may include malware that can compromise your computer. The general rule is to always ensure that you know where you’re getting your drivers from. Keep in mind that anyone can change the contents of an unsigned driver so you must be careful when manually installing one. As industry practice nowadays, many manufacturers are now making sure that their drivers are digitally signed before they are released. If you encounter “this driver hasn’t been signed” error, it is most probably booby trapped by a malicious party.

Windows requires a digitally signed driver

This error only occurs if you have the 64-bit version of Windows. This notification indicates that a driver is missing a valid digital signature, or the signature has been changed after it was signed, and therefore can’t be installed on Windows.


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