Two methods: 1. Manually 2. Automatically
Drivers are software which help hardware to communicate with the operating system. For example we have mouse, audio chips etc which are attached to the computer. The operating system communicates with the hardware with these drivers.
Previously when we were using Microsoft Windows 95 / Windows 98, at that time we had to install drivers for every hardware which connected to the computer eg. Mouse. But with the development of new operating systems such as Windows 7 / Windows 8, many drivers are integrated to the operating system. When you install the operating system, then the best matched drivers for your hardware is automatically installed. Nowadays we have hardware with USB port. Those are plug and play devices. When you connect those devices to the computer then the operating system automatically detects the hardware. For more information about the driver, you can visit this site at Wikipedia.
How to automatically install drivers – Two ways
Method 1 of 2: Using Device Manager
Isn’t it be easy if you are able to automatically search, download and install driver for your hardware devices. You can do it through Device manager included in Windows. Whenever a hardware manufacturer makes a certain hardware device most of the time they submit the driver to the windows driver library for verification. Once verified and given a digital signature then it will be ready to be downloaded by users.
How to install Realteak audio driver automatically using Device manager
- Right click on “My Computer” icon on the desktop and click on “Properties“.
- Click on “Device Manager“.
- You can see a yellow exclamation mark in front of “Multimedia Audio controller” under “other devices” which means that the driver for the hardware is not installed.
- Expand “Sound,video and game controllers” and select whatever is listed there.
- Right click on it and select “Update Driver Software“.
- Now your computer will search for the driver from Windows drivers library and if found will be installed.
Note:- Your computer may not find the diver from the Windows library for all hardware. In that case you need to manually install the driver.
- Once installed you will be able to see the name of your audio device “Realtek High Definition Audio” under “Sound, video and game controllers“.
Method 2 of 2: Using third-party application such as DriverMax
- You can use third-party software such as “Driver Max” to install the drivers for the hardware. This application scans whatever drivers aren’t installed.
- Download the software from download.com.
- Run the software.
- Click on “Scan for updates now“.
- The software will scan for those hardware whose driver is not installed or whose updated version of driver is available for download.
- For example in the picture above the software has found driver for “SoundMax audio chip set“.
- Click on “Download” button to install the driver.
- Now you get the above window. If you are using free version of “Drivermax” click on “Free Download“. If pro, then “Pro Download“. Remember with Free version you can download two drivers per day.
- I am using Free version so I will go for “Free Download“.
- The software will start to download the driver.
Note:- You need to create an account for Drivermax and log into drivermax to download the driver.
- Click on “Click here to view” to find the downloaded driver.
- Click on the check box to select the downloaded driver and click on “Install” button.
- You must click on “I Agree” to accept driver max terms and condition.
- You will be asked whether you want to create a restore point before installing the driver. Click on “Yes” if you have already installed the driver and is just updating the driver or else “No“.
- The driver will be installed.
- Once the drive is finished installing you will get a message that the installation is completed.
Method 1 of 2: Download the driver from hardware manufacturer site
For example if I have realtek audio chip integrated on the board then I can download the driver from the site.
- Go to realtek site.
- Click on “Download” tab.
- Now click on “High definition Audio codecs (software)” or “AC’97 Audio codecs (Software)” according to your audio chipset.
- Click on check box to accept the terms and condition and click on “Next“.
- Now select which version of windows you have. 32 bit of windows 7, windows 8 etc and on the right side you can see the different sites to download the driver.
- Click on any site.
- The driver starts to get download. Once downloaded you can run the driver and install the driver.
Method 2 of 2: Using the Driver installation disc
When you are buying a laptop or a branded PC you get a disc along with the system. The disc contains drivers for your operating system. Or whenever you are buying any hardware devices such as “Sound Card” you get a driver disc along with it.
- Install the disc.
- You may see “Drivers” folder in the installation disc or else you may find the folder for your hardware device. For example I have “realtek” folder in the installation disc which is for my audio chipset.
- Open the folder and run the driver.
What if the hardware don’t function even if you install the driver
Even if you install the driver and you find that the hardware is not functioning then the driver which you installed is not suitable for the hardware. The driver is not compatible with the version of operating system installed in your system.
You can visit Microsoft Windows compatibility center to find out whether your hardware is compatible with the operating system.
- Type the name of the audio hardware which you have in the search box for eg “Realtek ac’97 sound card” in the search box and click on “Search“.
- Click on the Realtek sound card which is shown.
- Click on drop-down box to find the operating system and select each operating system to find out whether “Realtek AC’97 Sound card” will be compatible or not.
- In the figure above you can see that my sound card is compatible with “Windows 8.1“.
If you find that the hardware is compatible with the current operating system but still the device is not functioning then you must have installed wrong driver.
So, make sure to download the correct driver for your device.
How to update device driver
Method 1 of 3: Using Device Manager
- Right click on “My Computer” and click on “Properties“.
- Click on “Device Manager“.
- Expand the device whose driver you want to update eg. I want to update my Network adapter.
- Right click on “Realtek wireless adapter” and click on “Update Driver Software“.
- Click on “Search automatically for updated driver driver software“.
- Now windows will automatically search for updated driver from Windows library and install it.
- Once the driver will be installed you will see the message.
Method 2 of 3: Using Driver Max
- Open driver max.
- Click on “Scan for updates“.
- You can see information at the top about how many drivers are not up to date.
- Click on “Download” button to download the updated version of driver for any hardware which you want.
- The rest of the process is same as mentioned above while installing drivers with drivermax.
Method 3 of 3: Using Windows Update
You can also update the drivers for your software through Windows update. Windows release updates on second Tuesday of each month. For more information about Windows Update you can visit this Microsoft site.
You can allow windows to search for windows update automatically and install the updates. By default Windows update is set for automatic update.
- Click on “Start” and search for “Windows update“.
- Click on “Change settings“.
- Select “Install updates automatically (recommended)” from drop down menu.
- Click on “OK“.
- Now whenever updates are released window will automatically update whether it is for driver or security patches.
Manual Windows Update
- In the figure above instead of “Install updates automatically“, select “Never check for updates (Not recommended)“.
- Now if you want to check for update, click on “Check for updates“.
- You will see Windows will look for updates.
- Click on “Install Now” button to install the windows update.
- Accept the license terms and click on “Finish“.
- Windows will start to download updates.
- After installation is finished you need to restart windows to finish installation.
- You can check what updates are installed. Click on “View update history“.
- You can see the list of successful updates.
What if your hardware stops functioning after updating the driver
Sometimes when you update the driver for any hardware then it might not function properly. For example when I updated my sound driver then I had a problem. Whenver I inserted the audio jack of a headphone, then instead of sound playing in headphone it started to play from the mic which was installed in the computer. In such case, you can always roll back the driver to remove the problem.
How to roll back the updated driver
- Go to device manager as mentioned in the above steps.
- Expand the hardware whose driver you want to roll backup.
- Right click on the hardware and select “Properties“.
- Click on “Driver” tab and click on “Roll back Driver“.
- Click on “Yes” button to confirm rolling back of driver to previous version and your hardware should work fine.
You can also backup drivers even if you have already installed in your system. These software will extract the driver files and store in a folder. Once such software which you can use is “Driver Magician“.
This is specially useful if you want to format the system and you don’t have drivers backed up or driver CD.
- Download the software from this site.
- Open the software.
- Select the driver which you want to backup and click on “Start backup” button.
- Select a location where you want to save the extracted driver and click on “OK“.
- If successful then you get a message.
- Check the location where you selected to save the driver. You will see “Drivers backup” folder where the driver has been extracted and saved.
Other software for backing up and restoring drivers are:
Driver Easy: Free to try. $29.95 to buy.
DriverBackup: Free to use.
Free Driver Backup: Free to use
Net-runna Driver Backup: Free to use
Device Driver Backup: Free to try. $19.95 to buy.