How to install drivers for your laptop: The right way
Among the most common questions received by laptop and IT support personnel are:
- Where can I find downloadable drivers for my Windows 8 (or 8.1, or 7.x, etc.) laptop?
- I’ve downloaded a driver file from a web site but it won’t install. What do I do now?
One would think that these would be rare questions, but one would be wrong. It’s true, in a high percentage of cases, finding the correct driver, downloading, and installing it is easy and relatively foolproof. But even a tiny percentage in the world of millions of PCs is still a high number. And, IT support professionals know that there are some laptop models and operating systems that are more problematic than others.
In this article I will answer the most frequently asked questions related to installing drivers in Windows 7 and Windows 8 (8.1).
Where do I download drivers for my laptop?
This is the most frequently asked question. The proper response: Download it from the laptop manufacturer’s official web site. You’ll almost always get the driver free of charge, the driver will (usually) be the latest version available, and you won’t run the risk of receiving any malicious software riding along with the driver.
Official driver download pages for popular notebook models:
- Asus http://www.asus.com/
- Sony Vaio sony.com/support
- Acer http://www.acer.com/worldwide/support/download.htm
- Lenovo http://support.lenovo.com/en_US/downloads/default.page
- Samsung http://www.samsung.com/en/support/download/supportDownloadMain.do
- HP http://www8.hp.com/us/en/support.html
- Other manufacturers’ websites are available and easy to find. But beware! Don’t try to find them with a Google “download free laptop driver” query. You won’t get the manufacturer’s official site (sites listed at the top of a Google search pay for their placement, so they won’t be giving away anything for free), and you’ll probably find a suspect web site. If you’re lucky, you might find a driver, but you’ll likely later find viruses, Trojans, rootkits, and other unwholesome malware on your computer.
How do I download drivers from the official site?
On most websites of manufacturers of laptops and other digital equipment, you’ll find a “Support” section. On the Support page, in turn, you’ll find a link to download all the necessary drivers for your laptop and appropriate operating system. Note that, if you installed Windows 8.1 on your laptop and you only see a driver for Windows 7, it might work as well. (Although you might have to run the installation program in compatibility mode.) Installing a driver for a lower OS version usually isn’t a problem. Some laptop manufacturers also have special programs to automatically download and install all necessary drivers.
Automatic driver installation on a laptop
You also have the option of using a driver pack, such as those from Driver Pack Solution http://drp.su/.
The program works as follows: After starting, it automatically detects all the devices installed on your computer and allows you to automatically install the requisite drivers. Alternately, you have the option to install each driver separately.
While the program operates as advertised, I do not recommend it for installing laptop drivers for these reasons:
Most laptops have unique hardware components. Driver Pack Solution will install a compatible driver, but it may not work adequately. This often happens with Wi-Fi adapters and network cards. Also, for laptops, the program does not detect all devices.
Some manufacturers provide OS patches that you need to install first for compatibility. DPS will not provide these patches.
So, if you’re not in a hurry, (automatic installation of all drivers is faster than installing one by one), then I advise the use of the manufacturer’s official web site. If you decide to go the fast and easy way, be careful when using Driver Pack Solution. For best results, switch the program to expert mode and install each driver one at a time; do not select “Install all drivers and software.” Further, I do not recommend leaving a program that automatically updates drivers in the Startup Program Group. This is not needed and leads to slower performance of your system. These programs consume battery, and sometimes lead to even more unpleasant consequences.
I hope the information in this article will be of use for many novice laptop owners.