SlimDrivers is a free tool that scans your computer to identify missing drivers or drivers that are out of date and have updates available for download. It will let you download and install drivers “manually” (i.e. one by one) straight from the SlimDrivers interface.
In theory, up-to-date drivers are likely to make your PC run better, as newer drivers are in general better optimized and (hopefully) coexist better with other software and drivers on your PC.
But SlimDrivers is also likely to fix situations whereby the driver used for device or hardware on your system is simply the wrong one (and causing problems).
This program worked beautifully on a laptop that had a clean install of Windows XP and needed all sorts of drivers downloaded. However, unless you have a specific problem with instability and/or with a particular (known or unknown) hardware component, I would not necessarily use it. I would also caution against using it out of mere curiosity, and the notion that it cannot hurt to update drivers.
Here’s a summary of my experiences with this program:
- Tested it on a clean install of Windows XP on an old laptop. The machine had always been problematic and had several unidentified devices and needed all sorts of drivers that the Windows install did not offer on its own. I had to manually install the networking drivers to get internet connectivity, and then used SlimDrivers to download and install everything else. It worked beautifully! I cannot remember a time when that machine had run better. That is also when I decided that I have to write this program up on my site.
- Tested it on my brand new Dell laptop, where it reported 35 out of date drivers. I then ran the “Dell Compatibility Center”; software which is preinstalled and opens a web page that presents updated driver downloads issued by Dell. There were none. I investigated the display adapter driver as an example, and found that although indeed there was an updated version on the NVIDIA website, it came with the following caveat in the release notes, which I took to mean that I did not need to install this driver
- “please note that your notebook original equipment manufacturer (OEM) provides certified drivers for your specific notebook on their website. NVIDIA recommends that you check with your notebook OEM about recommended software updates for your notebook. OEMs may not provide technical support for issues that arise from the use of this driver.”
- My brother ran this on a machine that had two different USB 3 ports. SlimDrivers suggested newer drivers for one of them, which my brother installed, but then he discovered that the one updated driver had now been installed for both, rendering one of them non functional as a consequence.
With the above in mind, here are some PROs and CONs of this program:
- Very useful for a clean Windows install: especially if you do not care to do all the manual work of hunting down drivers all over the internet yourself. And besides, if there are any unresolved hardware issues left over you could always take care of these yourself later on (there were no such issues in my experience; worked beautifully).
- Excellent ability to scan and detect available updated drivers.
- Offers to create a system restore point before every driver install: which is nice, except if you have system restore turned off it does not turn it on for you, and you end up thinking that you have system restore points created when you don’t.
- Does not offer enough information on new drivers: it doesn’t display release notes, so you have no idea what the update is for or whether its relevant to your machine. Oh and by the way do not assume that an updated driver will either be an improvement or will at least not do any harm. Offers no information and there is no link that you can click to find out more before committing to the download/install.
- Does not offer information on old drivers: while it will tell me that the updated version is verion x, surely it would be very simple to tell me that my installed driver is version y.
- Much of the recommended updates will not be relevant to your PC: a driver update is very likely to be related to an issue with another PC make than your own. This means that although you could get an updated driver, you don’t really need it. And do not assume that updated drivers will cause no harm; they sometimes may.
- Forces you to download and install drivers one-by-one: which is standard for freeware programs of this kind, for developers to differentiate their paid product. It is not so bad, really.
- System restore points: will not be created if you have system restore switched off, but it will not notify you that this the case. The result: you think that you have an undo option, when you don’t.
The verdict: this is one of the nicest freeware programs of its kind and it can be a real time saver when your PC is a mess and is in need for multiple driver updates or discovery and/or it has unidentified devices.
However, I would recommend that you only use this program if you want to address an issue or your computer has been experiencing instability or exhibiting errors, or you have unidentified devices, etc. -do not use it merely for the sake of “updating”. I am not saying that there will be any adverse effects if you do perform the recommended updates; rather, what I am saying is that many of them will be needless, and some of them just might cause adverse effects unintentionally.
If you do go for the massive updates I would recommend either (a) making an image of your system prior to doing so, with a program such as Macrium Reflect, or (b) at least making sure that System Restore is turned on and that you create a restore point before doing so.
Version Tested: 1.0
Compatibility: Windows XP, Vista, Windows 7.
Go to the program home page to download the latest version (approx 2.46 megs).