You might need to update a Windows Vista driver to fix a Device Manager error code or maybe you just like staying up to date with manufacturer releases for your favorite hardware.
Regardless of why, a driver for any device you have can be updated from within Device Manager in Windows Vista... and it's really not that hard:
Visit the hardware maker's site and download the latest available driver. A manufacturer's site is always the best source for a driver but if that doesn't work out for some reason, there are several other driver download options too.
Note: Some hardware manufacturers package their drivers in a nice little installation package, automating the whole process. If you're lucky enough to download a Windows Vista driver like that (the manufacturer's site should be very clear about this) then consider yourself lucky. Just run the installation and skip all the steps below!
Note: There are some other ways of opening Device Manager too if you're interested.
Now that Device Manager is open, look for the entry for the device that you want to update the drivers for.
Note: Navigate through the hardware device categories by clicking the [+] icon. You'll open up the list of actual devices under the categories.
Once you found the device you were looking for, right click on its name or icon and choose Properties. In the Properties window, click on the Driver tab.
Click the Update Driver... button.
This will start the Update Driver Software wizard.
On the How do you want to search for driver software? window, click on Browse my computer for driver software.
The other option is essentially a search for new drivers via Windows Update but I recommend updating your Windows Vista drivers using manufacturer-direct drivers as described below.
In the Browse for driver software on your computer window that appears next, click on Let me pick from a list of device drivers on my computer. It's located near the bottom.
Click the Have Disk... button next.
Click the Browse... button on the Install From Disk dialog box that appeared after clicking the button in Step 8.
Next you'll see the Locate File dialog box. Work your way to the folder that was created as part of the driver extraction you did in Step 1. If there are several subfolders, find one that's labeled for Windows Vista, assuming there is one. Don't worry if there's not.
Click any INF file that you see and then click Open.
Note: INF files contain the driver setup information and they're the only files that Device Manager will let you choose. If you have problems here, see the Tips at the bottom of the page for help.
Click OK on the Install From Disk dialog.
Click on the hardware name in the text box and then click Next >.
If you're prompted with a warning message about the possibility of a hardware/driver incompatibility just click the Yes button to continue installing the driver. Many drivers are not certified by Microsoft to work in Windows Vista but are still perfectly safe to use.
Important: If you're installing a Windows Vista driver obtained from anywhere other than the maker of the hardware, click No instead and download drivers from the manufacturer directly.
The Update Driver Software wizard will now use the instructions provided in the INF file you selected to install the drivers for your hardware in Windows Vista.
At this point, you just need to walk through whatever other instructions you're given on screen. This part of the driver update process can be different depending on the kind of hardware you're updating the drivers for.
Once the Windows Vista driver update is complete, you might be asked to restart your computer.
Note: Updating drivers makes changes to the Windows Registry and other sensitive areas of Windows so even if you're not told to restart, do it anyway. This way you'll know if the driver update has effected your computer in some way it shouldn't have
If for some reason there has been a problem, just roll back the driver and you should be fine.
No INF file in a folder from your extracted drivers? Look again in any of the other folders.
No INF file at all? Try downloading and extracting the driver again. There might have been an issue with the download or the extraction.
Find INF files in several folders? Try each folder until you find the right drivers for your hardware.