Drivers are essential for using internal PC components and external devices. The control programs ensure perfect communication between the operating system and graphics card, network adapter, printer, webcam, mouse and other hardware. Commissioning and use will only work if the correct driver has been installed for a component. If the wrong or old driver is used, system crashes or the speed collapses. In order to get the most out of Windows 10, it is essential to install drivers that match the operating system and, above all, up-to-date ones. These often offer more functions than the standard drivers that Windows sets up itself - and make the most of the hardware.
Newer drivers are particularly worthwhile for components with a high volume of data, because they optimize the transfer: especially with internal SSDs and graphics cards. Newer graphics drivers also often bring improvements for certain games. In addition, there are often bug fixes for drivers, sometimes against security gaps.
Do you not know the product names of your hardware so that you do not know exactly which drivers are required? And you don't have an installation CD to hand either? The downloads in the following photo gallery will help you:
Free download: Windows 10 driver
Driver: Equip Windows 10 & 7/8 with graphics package
The above Windows 10 driver overview presents the most important programs that get PCs running with the current operating system. Graphics card driver updates in particular often increase performance; you will find these for models from AMD and Nvidia. Comfortable updater tools are also represented: They search independently - or via the detour of a browser plus web search engine - for the latest device software. This is how you discover outdated versions that the system is dragging around and may not be perfect, and replace them with successor releases. A system restart is required after the driver installations. Incidentally, it is advisable to carry out this after each individual update - and not only at the end, when about ten driver setups have been carried out. This makes the setup process smoother and you can assign any problems to a specific driver. It may also make sense to install various runtime environments - the gallery lists the most important ones. Such Windows extensions ensure that some popular programs and websites work properly.
Driver and write cache bring performance
If, for example, the AS SSD benchmark spits out poor drive transfer rates, a driver upgrade action may help. Above all, however, activating the write cache of the drive works wonders here. If necessary, combine the activation of the cache measure (if the benchmark results drop drastically) with the installation of a suitable driver. In sub-disciplines, according to the AS-SSD values, the article author achieved accelerations of more than 100 percent, particularly through the activated write cache. A Samsung 950 Pro 256 GB was in use. For example, thanks to the activated cache, sequential writing increased fourteen-fold - from 53.96 to 766.06 megabytes per second. The latter trumps the maximum possible with the SATA-3 interface (600 megabytes / second gross). The second big AS-SSD leap was in the access time; the lowest possible millisecond value (ms) is desirable here. It was initially 2.815 ms and shrunk to a vastly superior 0.034 ms due to the cache activation. This corresponds to a ratio of 1 to 82.
Suitable versions for every architecture
Sometimes you get the same driver in a 32- and a 64-bit version. If you use a 64-bit system, you should only use 64-bit drivers: This ensures maximum stability and the best possible performance. 32-bit drivers on 64-bit systems are likely to refuse to install anyway. If you cannot find a suitable control program despite the drivers and tools provided here, consider using a version for Windows Vista, Windows 7 or Windows 8 (.1). These older systems work similarly internally to Windows 10 and their drivers could work here; Microsoft has not significantly changed the basic driver model since Vista. Important: Pay attention to the correct number of bits when downloading. The latest Windows versions, unlike older ones, are able to load drivers at the same time as they start up.
Get the most out of your PC: The best 64-bit downloads
Determine the Windows architecture
In many cases, drivers cannot be installed in the first place if they do not correspond to the Windows system type: i.e. 32 or 64 bit. Normal 32-bit programs, on the other hand, can usually be installed under Windows 64-bit, but 64-bit programs never run under Windows 32-bit. The setup of a driver is also frequently canceled if it does not match the installed hardware. To save yourself having to download the wrong version, find out the hardware components installed in the PC with the appropriate diagnostic tools. In addition to numerous details on the inside of the computer, these reveal whether Windows works as a 32- or 64-bit system. Alternatively, you can use the system's own info window to tap a PC using a detective approach: call it up using the Windows pause key combination. The latter hotkey is usually sufficient; Diagnostic tools are useful if you want additional information (and help with upgrading).
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Basically, if you reinstall Windows, you have the choice between the 32- and 64-bit version: The DVD or the setup USB stick determines which version ends up on the hard drive / SSD. Current Windows 10 setup media generated by the Media Creation Tool bring both architectures with them, depending on the setting, and offer them for reinstallation. However, you have no choice with an upgrade, here the Windows 10 architecture corresponds to that of the updated Windows 7 or Windows 8.1. By the way: If you open the command line and enter a certain command, you can quickly find out whether a 64-bit Windows can be installed at all. The requirement for Windows 64 bit is a suitable processor. In this way you can load 64-bit drivers in advance - or save yourself that if the system does not fit.
How to proceed: Open the console with Windows-R and cmd and give the command in it wmic cpu get architecture a. If the window shows a 6 or 9 after pressing Enter, you have the required 64-bit processor. If an older processing unit is installed that only allows 32-bit Windows (-10), the Windows CMD outputs a 0 as the result. A 0 is rare these days, because Windows 64-bit is now mostly pre-installed (since a 64-bit OS is the prerequisite for UEFI and Secure Boot; and if 64-bit Windows is running, the processor must be 64-bit capable be). In any case, it is possible that even with today's PCs a 0 is attested at least in a VirtualBox 32-bit test installation (virtual 32-bit CPU, Windows 10 32-bit; with a virtualized 64-bit processor with Windows 10 32-bit again the result would be 9).
Free: Basic software for Windows 10
Driver: Included in low-level software
You don't install drivers only in the form of EXE and INF files that are targeted at specific devices. Often they also get piggyback on the disk with low-level programs: some dig deep into Windows and load drivers in the process. These are available in SYS format - SYS is probably the most important Windows driver format. Such elements include Avast Free Antivirus, VirtualBox, ZoneAlarm Free Firewall, Hotspot Shield and Smart Defrag. Windows also has some SYS driver files up its sleeve, such as ntfs.sys. Since tools like the ones mentioned operate on the "open heart", updates on functionality are warmly recommended:
100 free programs from Microsoft
If an outdated or faulty driver does not work properly with Windows (10), blue screens could occur - as already indicated in the article. Such horror error messages tear all application programs into the abyss and, depending on your work situation, mean data loss, because edited, unsaved content in the main memory is lost. If the swap file is activated, Windows creates a RAM memory image in the event of a crash, which is used for analysis and consumes hard disk / SSD space. BIOS misconfigurations and hardware damage are other possible causes of blue screens, but by far the most common causes are drivers. So update it - the resulting increases in speed are tempting. In most cases, it is not necessary to uninstall the old bundle, so you can install a newer driver version over it without complications. Conversely, the Windows Device Manager (devmgmt.msc) also allows you to replace a newer driver version with an older one by downgrading (which is only recommended if there are problems).