What Can Go Wrong When You Update Drivers?

Why People Update Drivers

Before exploring what could go wrong with a driver update, let’s explore why people update drivers in the first place. The most common reasons include: installing a new device and making sure it has the most current device drivers possible; taking advantage of the latest updates and fixes from the manufacturer, and trying to solve a problem with the device.

What Can Go Wrong When You Update Drivers

No matter why you’re updating the device’s drivers, an error is possible. This could be a technical glitch or a mistake that you make during the process. Technical glitches include interrupted downloads, corrupt installation files, and even poorly written updates directly from the manufacturer. Operator errors include selecting the wrong driver file in the first place. For example, if your computer runs Windows 7 and you accidentally select the download for Windows XP, it’s likely that the update will fail.

When one of these problems occurs, your computer and the hardware device may not be able to communicate or the device may not be able to perform all of its functions. Other problems can be introduced as well such as conflicts. For example, if the update replaces an older system DLL with a new version, other devices relying on the older version may not recognize the new version and could stop working!

Plan to Update Drivers with Recovery in Mind

One of the best ways to update your device drivers is to do so with recovery in mind. By being aware of the potential dangers, you can plan for and possibly prevent them. Start by setting a system restore point before you do anything. This takes a snapshot of your system’s settings and saves it for later restoration. Should the update cause major problems, use System Restore to roll it back to its pre-update state. To create a restore point, you’ll need to go into the Control Panel, click the System and Security category, click System, click System Protection, find “Create a restore point right now…,” and click Create. If you later need to rollback your system, go to Start > Programs > Accessories > System Tools > System Restore and choose the restore point you created before updating the drivers.

Update Drivers with Care

Next, pay careful attention to what you are doing. If you’re searching for device drivers on the manufacturer’s website, make sure you select the exact driver for your device. A driver for a similar device with a slightly different model number could be completely incompatible with your device despite the similarities between the devices themselves. Likewise, you’ll want to pay attention to operating system details. Windows Vista 32-bit and Windows Vista 64-bit operating systems are completely different, requiring software specifically written for these differences.

After updating, reboot your system and test it. Not only should you make sure your device works as expected, keep an eye on other devices and programs. Do they work as expected? The sooner you can identify or rule out a potential conflict, the better able you will be to deal with it.