Missing or outdated device drivers often cause trouble in Windows - mysterious slowdowns, program crashes, even Windows BSOD-s (Blue Screen Of Death), etc. There have been several cases recently where old device drivers cause problems after applying Windows security updates.
Some driver updates for major manufacturers are offered in Windows Update Optional section, but the number is really limited.
Intel offers Driver Update Utility for its own devices - motherboards and chipsets, network, storage and graphics adapters. It uses ActiveX control for Internet Explorer and Java for other browsers.
Sadly, updating device drivers manually is out of question for most people, because the process is unbelievably difficult: you have to know your exact device, its manufacturer's web page and how to find correct drivers from the site. Do this for five different devices and you're running out of daylight... Furthermore, no automatic updates are offered by most device manufacturers.
Luckily, SlimWare Utilities offers a free solution for driver update hassle - SlimDrivers Free. The small program detects all devices and drivers in use, checks for updates and you select which drivers to download and install. SlimDrivers also creates System Restore Points and complete driver backups before updating a driver to safeguard health of your Windows installation.
SlimDrivers Free does require registration, but the program is still free to use.
If you do not experience any trouble with Windows, there is no need to update drivers - use the instructions here only if Windows is slow to boot or shut down, or performance is low .
Open SlimDrivers home page and click the blue Download link to get the setup file from SlimWare Utilities (CNet's Download.com often has problems).
After downloading and launching, SlimDrivers Setup Wizard opens with typical License Agreement. Click I Agree.
Important - a typical sponsored offer appears (it might look a little different sometimes). As it is never recommended to overload your Internet browsers with toolbars, click Decline on the bottom left.
To be protected from malicious sites, use the free WOT Safe Surfing Tool instead.
SlimDrivers Setup Wizard then downloads program components and installs the program.
After the process is complete, click Finish. SlimDrivers will start after this.
A thank you web page will opens in your web browser. You can safely close the window.
Click the big green Start Scan button.
The scan normally takes about a minute or so. After completion, a list of available driver updates appears.
To install a newer driver, click Download Update.
SlimDrivers then asks "Do you want to create a restore before continuing?" - this really means a System Restore Point. Always click Yes here to avoid possible problems. In case Windows does not start after a driver update (this happens really-really rarely) and the Last known good configuration option is of no help, you can use System Restore to bring Windows back to life.
A new Restore Point will be created (this takes up to a few minutes) and SlimDrivers will then back up all device drivers that are currently in use. Stand by.
After the two safety steps are completed, SlimDrivers will download and install the driver update.
During driver updates, windows can appear. Click the common Next and Finish buttons that guide through the installation process. But please remember - do not allow a driver update program to restart your computer, let SlimDrivers take care of this.
On rare occasions, SlimDrivers detects and downloads a wrong driver. Do not worry if an installation fails, this causes no harm. If a driver is unsuitable, it probably does not really need updating.
After the driver has been updated, click Continue in SlimDriver's success dialog. Note that this window appears even if an installation failed due to a incompatible device.
The device driver update disappears from the list. SlimDrivers Free always offers to restart your computer after an installation. It is strongly recommended to reboot after each update to verify the new driver is fine and Windows continues working normally.
Click Yes here.
After the restart, SlimDrivers Free starts automatically. Click Start Scan again to verify results.
Now continue the driver update procedure as described above until you see the "All updates have been installed" dialog. Click OK.
Device drivers are now up-to-date and hopefully all problems with Windows have been resolved.
In case something goes wrong with a driver update, but Windows is able to start, you can always restore the previous driver for a device.
Click the Restore button on top part of SlimDrivers window. A list of driver backups appears with the last one fully selected.
Clear the current selection by clicking the backup date and time check box. Then find and select the driver you want to recover and click Restore.
Please wait until SlimDrivers rolls the driver back to its previous version.
As usual, a reboot is offered. Click Yes to restart your computer - the older driver will not take effect without this.
SlimDrivers always starts with Windows. Because driver updating is not an everyday task, some people might want to turn this behavior off.
SlimDrivers icon appears in the Taskbar Notification Area and right-clicking it opens a list of most used commands.
Click Options in the top part of SlimDrivers main window. In the General tab, click to turn off the Run at windows startup option.
You can schedule SlimDrivers so that it scans for available driver updates automatically. This task will run even when SlimDrivers is not running, so the previously described setting has no effect on this.
Open the Schedule tab and enable the Automatically check for driver updates option. Then select Weekly from the Schedule task combo box and set the task to run every four to eight weeks. Select the weekday and time when your PC is most probably running and click Save.
The task will be added to Windows Task Scheduler. After the task runs, SlimDrivers' main window will pop up, reminding you to run a scan.