How to update the drivers on Windows 11 without additional applications

If the hardware devices in a Windows 11 computer (such as USB controllers, graphics cards, printers, or other peripherals) require new or updated drivers, it is usually easy to install them. We will tell you how.

Normally, you don’t need to update the driver

Before we start to update the drivers, let’s talk about when there is no need to update the hardware drivers in Windows 11. Generally, unless you want to update the graphics card driver or know that a driver update will update the driver, you should not update the driver to solve the problem you are experiencing.

When do I need to update the driver?

If your device is already working, driver updates may break something in unexpected ways by making untested changes to your system. As the saying goes, “If it’s not broken, don’t fix it.”

The safest way to update drivers

When looking for driver updates, it is important to know that Windows will automatically keep many drivers up to date through the Windows Update built into Windows 11. Therefore, if you make any minor but necessary updates to common components (such as touchpads or USB controllers), Windows will usually handle them automatically the next time you update your PC.

In addition, some driver updates arrive as “optional updates” in Windows Update. We (and Microsoft) do not recommend installing these updates unless you are trying to resolve specific known issues with your device. However, if you are experiencing problems, it is worth checking if any optional updates are available. To do this, press Windows+i to open the settings. In “Settings”, click “Windows Update” in the sidebar, and then select “Advanced Options.”

In the advanced options, scroll down and click “Optional Updates.”

In the optional update, click the “Driver Update” section heading to expand it. Then browse the list and place a check mark next to any drivers you want to update. When finished, click “Download and Install”.

Windows will install the driver of your choice and ask to restart your PC if necessary. After restarting, you can use the updated drive. However, you will not find all the drivers in Windows Update. In this case, please refer to the following section.

The best place to manually download updated drivers

Sometimes you need to update devices that are not covered by Windows Update, such as graphics cards. In this case, the best way is to find the official website of the device manufacturer. There, look for the “Support” section and search for “Download”, “Update” or “Driver” for your device.

How to find the official Windows driver for any device

Please note that there are many fraudulent driver sites that install malware instead of drivers, so make sure you have visited the actual manufacturer’s site. The driver update utilities you may find online are worthless and may be full of scams or malware.

After downloading the trusted driver package from the device manufacturer, unzip it and find the “setup” or “install” program to run. Run it, usually the updated driver will automatically install and then require a restart. After restarting the PC, your new driver is ready to use.

How to update your graphics card driver to get the best gaming performance

For GPU drivers from NVIDIA, AMD, or Intel, the driver update program may install a utility, such as GeForce Experience (for NVIDIA hardware), so that the driver can be updated quickly in the future. Using this program, you can update GPU drivers from trusted sources when new games appear.

Manually update the driver using the device manager

Finally, you can also use Device Manager to switch or update drivers for specific devices in Windows 11 PCs, but most people don’t need to do this. First, open the Device Manager: click the “Start” button and search for “Device Manager”, then click the “Device Manager” logo in the results.

In the Device Manager window, browse the list of installed devices on the PC, and then find the device for which you want to update the driver. Right-click on it and select “Update Driver”.

In the “Update Driver” window that appears, you have two choices. We will introduce them below, but first, let’s take a look at what each option does.

  • Automatically search for drivers: This option causes Windows to search for compatible drivers in Windows and install them automatically.
  • Browse my computer to find the driver: This option allows you to manually specify the location of the new driver to install. This will come in handy if you have downloaded the driver from the manufacturer’s website or want to install the driver from the CD, but the driver installer does not exist or does not work properly.

If you choose “Automatically search for drivers”, Windows will scan your system’s driver files to find updated drivers for your device. If it finds them, it will install them and ask you to restart your PC.

If not, you will see “The best driver for your device has been installed.” At this point, you can search further by clicking “Search for updated drivers on Windows Update”, which will open the “Settings”> “Windows Update” menu. Otherwise, click “Close”.

If you choose “Browse my computer for driver”, you can browse to the location where you know the new driver file by clicking the “Browse” button and following the steps on the screen. Or, you can click “Let me choose from a list of available drivers on my computer”.

If Windows recognizes the driver you are viewing—or you select “Let me choose from a list of available drivers on my computer”—Windows will show you a list of compatible drivers that you can choose for your device. Select an item in the list and click “Next”.

If you see “The best driver for your device is installed,” you don’t need to update. You can close the device manager and you’re done. Otherwise, if the driver is newer than the old driver, the driver will be installed. After that, Windows will ask you to restart your PC. Click “Yes”.

When you log in again, your new driver will be active.

However, if you want to have one click for all driver update, I recommend you to use IObit Driver Booster.

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