If you’ve every had to reinstall Windows on a computer, you know what a hassle it can be to find and update all of your PC’s drivers. And while Windows might install some generic drivers that may work with some of the devices on your machines, you will invariably need to check your drivers and update them, which in most cases means that you will have to do a lot of researching, downloading, and installing of individual drivers. Wouldn’t it be great of there was a tool that can install and update all of the drivers for you, in a single click?
That, is a nutshell, is what this free software does, and it does it extremely well. DriverPack Solution works with both 32 bit and 64 bit windows and automatically installs all the drivers in one step. Unlike other programs, however, it does not save your drivers first or download them one by one, but rather refers to a driver database that is actually stored on the DVD ROM, so you don’t even have to be connected to the internet.
I tested this on a new Windows install, where I was moving from 32bit Windows to a 64bit install, here’s a quick summary:
- The download was a whopping 2.96 gigs: which is understandable since it contains the entire database of drivers locally. It’s a torrent download.
- Running Driverpack: I did not have a DVD handy so I ran it from a USB, which worked fine.
- Scanning: is superfast. It will produce a list of drivers and driver updates in around a minute, or less.
- Driver updates: clicking on “expert mode” will display all drivers that can be updated. You can inspect these individually, install individual drivers manually if you like, and click to search the web for information related to them.
- Other programs: DriverPack can install a handful of other free programs, such as 7-Zip and Foxit Reader, on your PC. Some of these however are odd choices (WinDJview? Punto Switcher?). My advice: go to my Freeware Top 30 for all of your software needs!
PROS and CONS:
- One-stop solution: no messing with disks and downloads
- No internet connection required: the drivers database is local.
- Support forums are in Russian: sadly.
- A huge download: at 2.96 gigs. But such is nature of this beast. Downloading this every couple of months
- You can never be %100 sure that you have the latest drives: only that you have the latest drivers that were added to the latest release of DriverPack solutions. This matters less than it first seems, though, since you will at least be able to get your PC up and running, and updates after that can be taken care of by other means.
The verdict: this software is impressive, in that it just works. It is preferable to other similar free software previously mentioned (such as SlimDrivers and DriverIdentifier) in that it can work in settings where you do not have access to the internet (or where the internet is there but your PC for whatever reason is unable to connect).
But I will defer to the opinion of one of my readers, who tipped me off about this program and works at a PC technical support outfit: [DriverPack Solution finds] 90-95% of the drivers, but [it] is the only one I’m aware of that carries the drivers on the disk and does not need internet access to use. And the fact this program has a one-step all-driver installation makes it better than anything else we’ve used, paid or free. We use it on a daily basis and have not run into any problems.”
If you are the type that likes to have all their drivers 100% up to date, however, you should use DriverPack as a first step, and realize that you will need to look elsewhere (most likely on your PC brand make’s website) to verify that there aren’t other updates out there that you need.
But if you are going to use this, please bear the following guidelines in mind:
- I do not recommend you use this software just to update your drivers “for the hell of it”. If you want to update drivers, make sure you have a reason to do so, and go to your PC maker’s site to look for these.
- Make sure to uncheck all items in the “Programs” tab. Only install the drivers; do not install the programs, especially anything mail.ru related.
- If you are going to use it, backup your drivers first (use DriverBackup).
- If the software recommends going online for driver update, and pages open that are in Russian or in a language you do not understand, do not proceed. Only proceed if you understand what it going on.
- Bear in mind that this software might not install all drivers that your PC needs.
- There is also a chance that some devices might be accidentally disabled. This can happen.
[Thanks go to reader Mark O. (quoted above) for letting me know about this program]
Version Tested: 11 (build 2011/7/01, R230).
Compatibility: Windows XP, Vista, Windows 7; 32 bit and 64 bit.
Go to the program home page to download the latest version (approx 2.96 gigs). The main download button uses torrent2exe, which bundles a torrent with a torrent client, but you can use links to the torrent itself if you already have a client installed.