How to Scan Your Computer for Free Driver Updates


Installing the latest driver updates for your computer system, software, hardware and peripheral components is essential for optimum performance. The latest driver updates include bug fixes, patches and the latest features for each program or device. If you have a variety of software programs, looking for individual drivers for each device manually can be time-consuming. Therefore, scanning your computer for updates is something that can be easily done through automated processes. Both Windows and Mac operating systems provide built-in utilities that allow you to check for the latest updates. Also, there are several products you can purchase or download for free that scan your computer for outdated drivers and point you to the new drivers that are necessary.

Scan for updates in Windows Vista and 7

  • Go to the Windows "Start" menu, click on "All Programs" and click on "Windows Updates" from the list of options.

  • Click on "Check for Updates" on the left pane, then click "View available updates" to find a list of drivers ready to install, if applicable.

  • Select the driver you wish to install from the list, then click "Install" to confirm. You might be asked for an administrator password. Enter the password, if necessary, and allow installation of the drivers to begin.

Scan for updates in Windows XP, 2000, ME and 98

  • Click on the Windows "Start" menu, click on "All Programs" and click on "Windows Updates" from the list of options.

    Windows XP and 2000 users will be automatically connected to the "Windows Update" or "Microsoft Update" Web Page. Other versions of Windows must access the Web page manually.

  • Windows 98 and ME users, launch "Internet Explorer," access the "Tools" menu and click on "Windows Updates." You will be connected to the "Windows Update" Web page.

  • Select one of the updating options: "Express" (Recommended by Microsoft) or "Custom" for specific or optional updates.

  • Click on "Install Updates," if you chose "Express," and click on the "I Accept" button when prompted by the "Installing Updates" window.

  • Select the updates you wish to install, if you chose "Custom." Click on "Review and Install Updates," click on "Install Updates" and click on the "I Accept" button when prompted by the "Installing Updates" window.

Set automatic updates for Windows systems

  • Click on the "Start" menu, then click on "Control Panel."

  • For Control Panel view, click on "System," then click on "Automatic Updates."

  • For Classic or Category view, click on the "Performance and Maintenance" icon, click on "System," then click on the "Automatic Updates" tab.

  • Select the option you want, then click "Apply" and "OK."

    Microsoft recommends selecting "Automatic Updates," which scans your system periodically. If this is selected, choose how often you want Windows to check for available free driver updates by choosing an option from the drop-down menu in that section.

  • Restart your computer. If there are driver updates that need to be installed in your system, the built-in "Windows Update" utility will prompt you to install these. Download and install the necessary driver updates, if applicable.

    See the References section of this article for more information on this.

Scan for individual drivers

  • Access the Windows "Device Manager." Click on the "Start" menu and type "devmgmt.msc" in the command line. Press Enter to confirm. The "Device Manager" utility opens up.

  • Locate the driver you wish to check. Scroll through the list of devices and expand each by clicking on its corresponding "+" sign.

  • Right-click on the selected component and choose "Update Driver" from the drop-down menu options. The Hardware Update Wizard opens up and walks you through the process of installing the latest driver.

Scan your Mac for free driver updates

  • Start your computer and click on the Apple menu in the upper-left corner.

  • Click on the "Software Update..." option from the drop-down menu. The scanning process starts automatically. When the scanning is complete, a list of available free updates displays, if applicable.

  • Click the check box for the updates you wish to install, then click the "Install" button.

  • Allow for the free driver updates to be downloaded then restart your computer for the installation to take place.

Set automatic check for driver updates in Macs

  • Click on the "System Preferences" icon, located on the dock, then click on the "Software Update" icon.

  • Click on the "Scheduled Check" tab. Click the check box for "Check for updates," then select how often you wish this to occur (Daily, Weekly or Monthly).

  • Click the check box for "Download important updates automatically," if necessary.

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