We spent over 25 hours researching and testing driver update software and found that the best choice is Driver Booster. This professional driver update application has tools to help you manage the drivers on your computer. For example, you can use it to update and uninstall drivers as well as back them up safely in case you need to restore them in the future. From the program’s dashboard, you can initiate a scan with a single click, then view scan results to look over individual driver sources and details. You can also set a schedule for the software to run on.
Driver Booster found more outdated drivers than any other program we tested, and its usefulness extends beyond that – it can also backup and restore your drivers, schedule automatic scans and uninstall unneeded drivers.
Driver Genius automatically detects needed driver updates and can download and install them for you. It can also backup and restore existing drivers and provides detailed driver information.
Smart Driver Updater
With Smart Driver Updater, it’s easy to scan for out-of-date drivers, and the program can update them automatically with current drivers from original equipment manufacturer sources. It can also back up, restore or delete drivers.
If you have outdated drivers on your computer, Driver Booster is a great program to consider.
After finding out-of-date drivers on your computer, it searches its large, 3 million-plus item database for the latest versions. In addition, it recognizes faulty and missing drivers, and you can use the program to uninstall drivers you no longer need. There’s also a backup and restore feature that can make a copy of your computer’s existing drivers and revert to them if a new update doesn’t work out.
For our tests, we installed 149 outdated drivers on our test computer. Driver Booster found 91 of them –more than any other application we tested. However, that’s still only a 61-percent success rate, which is far from what we hoped the software could find. For comparison, the least successful program we tested found 48 drivers, which is only a 32-percent success rate.
The program may find driver updates from original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) but does not guarantee it, nor does it promise to only retrieve updates from OEM sources. This is problematic because non-OEM drivers may not work properly or could cause other problems. Still, overall, the software is easy to install and use, thanks to its one-click scan and automatic updates.
If you want to update old or faulty drivers on your computer but also need to stick to a budget, Driver Genius is a good option.
Although the software is easy to install, it isn’t very easy to use. Its interface isn’t quite as intuitive and well-designed others we tested. Novice computer users may struggle to access and use all the program’s tools, but it’s fine enough for advanced users.
In our tests, Driver Genius struggled to find drivers. It found only 62 of the 149 outdated drivers we downloaded onto our test computer – a success rate of just under 42 percent. That was one of the worst success rates in our entire comparison; in fact, only one program found fewer outdated drivers. On top of this, we found it discouraging that the application doesn’t guarantee that it sources driver updates from original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), so the updates you download may not work correctly or could cause problems.
The software can back up your existing drivers and restore them if a new update doesn’t go well. You can set Driver Genius to automatically download and install updates for you, which saves you the time of doing so manually. However, you can’t uninstall old or unwanted drivers in the program.
Most Intuitive Interface
Smart Driver Updater is great software for keeping your drivers updated and running optimally.
It also makes it easy to schedule scans, so you don’t have to regularly check every one of your drivers to see if an update is available. You can run the program daily or less frequently, like once every few months. The software shows the source and information for your existing drivers as well as for newly downloaded updates.
Smart Driver Updater was one of the best performers in our tests. It found 81 of the 149 of the outdated drivers we installed on our test computer. Though we wish the programs we reviewed would have detected more of the drivers in general, that’s apparently not the nature of this type of software. In fact, 81 out of 149 is the second best number we saw, so Smart Driver Updater is still one of your best bets for updating your computer’s drivers, especially since it only uses original equipment manufacturer (OEM) sources.
After it scans your computer, the program displays which drivers require updates. You should take advantage of the software’s backup and restore feature in case one of the updates doesn’t work out. Likewise, you can delete old drivers. Overall, the software is powerful and easy enough for people of any experience level to use.
Most Support Resources
Driver Reviver is a decent driver update software for novice users. Overall, it’s fairly easy to install and use, and it is backed by the widest selection of direct and indirect support resources of any program we reviewed.
In addition to helping you update old, missing and faulty drivers, the software can also backup and restore your existing drivers. This feature is handy to have in case a new driver doesn’t work properly and you want to put things back how they were before the update.
We were only moderately impressed by the software’s performance during our hands-on tests. It found 72 of the 149 out-of-date drivers we downloaded onto our test computer, which isn’t even half. However, it’s worth noting that the best program we reviewed found only 91, so no application proved itself capable of identifying and updating every driver we threw at it. Driver Reviver did considerably better than Advanced Driver Updater, which found just 48.
The software runs a scan and lists each driver needing an update, and it’s one of the few programs that show you the driver details and source for both your existing and newly downloaded drivers. It even has an exclusion option that lets you choose which drivers to update, instead of updating every single one each time. It also lets you set a schedule for the software to run automatically.
DriverFinder is manual driver update software that’s a cinch to install and set up on your computer.
It’s also free of bloatware and malware and never bothers you with prompts to upgrade or buy other programs from the developer. The program gives you granular control over which of your computer’s drivers to update and has a few other advanced tools, so it’s as good option for advanced computer users.
With the click of a button, the software scans your computer and lists which drivers need further attention. DriverFinder also only supplies you with updates from original equipment manufacturer (OEM) sources, which means they always come from a trusted source and are designed for that specific driver. Drivers not from OEM sources may or may not work properly or cause other problems. The software lists the driver sources, so it’s easy to access this information if you want to verify it.
A single license works on up to three computers, and the software works on all recent versions of Windows, from XP forward. In our tests, it found 70 of the 149 out-of-date drivers we downloaded onto our test computer. While that isn’t as many as we hoped, it’s important to remember that none of the applications we tested found all the drivers. Even the best program found only 91 of them.
Why Trust Us
We have tested and reviewed driver update software for over eight years. Recently, we spent over 25 hours researching and evaluating 10 driver updater programs. We ran dozens of scans and updated hundreds of drivers to find the best applications. In our tests, we also evaluated their backup, restore and uninstall features; driver sources; scheduling capabilities; and technical support resources. We contacted the companies as well as IT professionals who use programs like these at work and individuals who use the software on their home computers to learn more about how the applications work and what to watch out for.
How We Tested
The best way to evaluate driver update software is to see how well each product identifies and updates drivers. To test this, we added 149 outdated drivers to a test computer. We then created an image of the computer to reinstall before we tested each new product, so they could all work from the same save point. Then we installed the driver update software, scanned the computer and recorded the number of issues it found in each of the three rounds of testing we performed. It’s really that simple.
Since Windows 10 automatically runs driver updates with Windows Update, out-of-date drives are highly uncommon on this version of the operating system. As such, we tested on a computer running Windows 7. This older version can also update drivers using Windows Update but not with the same efficacy as Windows 10.
Once the software identified and diagnosed the outdated drivers, we looked at the resolution options each program provided for updating them. We noted if the program showed each driver’s version information and the source of anything new it recommended.
None of the updaters found all the outdated drivers on our test computer. In fact, the best performing product, Driver Booster, only found 91 of the 149 outdated drivers. Just consider that for a moment – the best performing product in our tests only found roughly 61 percent of the drivers it should have.
Understanding Driver Update Software
Most people pay little attention to drivers and have little understanding of what they are. This is because they work in the background, allowing your hardware to perform as it was designed to with your computer. Unfortunately, many of the developers of driver update software take advantage of this general ignorance. This, in conjunction with when a driver does eventually become outdated, can cause stress and confusion for those who aren’t the most tech-savvy. So, before you decide to purchase a program to update your computer’s drivers, let us help you gain a basic understanding of drivers:
How Much Does Driver Update Software Cost?
Driver update programs are fairly similar in cost, ranging from $20 to $30. In our tests, we determined that price does not have an impact on a program’s performance, license quantity, feature set, ease of use or efficacy.
What Is a Driver?
Whenever you connect new hardware (any physical device: printers, keyboards, speakers, etc.) to your computer, driver software installs to help the device communicate and interface properly with your computer. For example, every time you plug in a new USB drive, you see a quick notice that your computer is installing the driver. Once the driver is installed, you can access the information on the drive and save files to it. Without that driver, your computer can’t detect the USB drive and has no way of knowing what to do with it, making it nothing more than a small piece of plastic and metal sticking out of your computer.
To Update or Leave Be?
Manufacturers develop driver software to ensure their hardware runs effectively and can communicate with your computer. However, as with all types of software, there are often updates made to the drivers to help the hardware run more effectively or to keep up with performance demands of other software. Usually, these updates are downloaded and installed automatically by your Windows Update tool, especially if you use Windows 10. But depending on your preferences and settings, some drivers can become outdated.
Sometimes the updates are meant to fix bugs that have been reported by users. For example, let’s say a printer tends to overheat and catch fire whenever it prints more than 50 pages at a time. After hearing complaints from people who have nearly had their home offices go up in flames, the manufacturer realizes there is a bug in the driver that keeps it from communicating potential overheating to the printer. The company will then send out an update for the driver so it tells the printer to adjust its speed when it receives a large printing job, keeping it from overheating and catching on fire. If you don’t download the updated driver, you’re playing with fire, literally.
This example is, of course, extreme. Most hardware isn’t a literal fire threat, but the example shows how fear is often used to scare you into thinking you need to buy driver update software. The truth is, updating most drivers has little impact on your computer’s overall performance. Most are updated automatically by Windows Update unless you change the preferences in the settings. Even then, you should only worry about updating drivers when your hardware isn’t working correctly. For example, if you’re unable to transfer files from a digital camera to your computer, it could be because a driver is out of date. But, as mentioned, you can download the updated driver from the developer.
In fact, the only time you should be concerned about regularly updating your driver software is if you have a graphics card for gaming or for use with graphics-related software. The demands of games and software for 3D modeling and video editing constantly increase. As such, drivers for graphics cards are often updated to maintain performance as software demands more. That said, these updates are mostly automatic.
Ways Outdated Drivers Can Hurt Your Computer
Everyone wants their computer to run optimally, without lag or issue. When you keep your drivers up to date, this helps your connected components – such as your mouse, printer and keyboard – to continue working smoothly for you. Over time, you may notice that one of your peripherals begins having issues or stops working altogether. This usually means that a driver is out of date and requires you to download and install the update in order to get it in working shape again, plain and simple. The process of finding and installing a particular driver update is made easier by using driver update software, which can source drives and help you manage them from one central place.
However, should you choose to neglect updating your drivers, you may start to experience problems with your computer. You may also see these issues if a driver somehow becomes corrupted or goes missing, or if you upgrade your computer to the latest version of its operating system.
The first problem is that you could see a particular peripheral not working correctly. An older printer may not respond quickly or at all, or your video player software may freeze up. Multiple outdated drivers could hurt the overall performance of your entire computer. The problem won’t be fixed by restarting your computer or any other seemingly quick fixes. You can opt to delete a driver if it’s unused or corrupted, but otherwise, you’ll need to perform an update.
You can also cause myriad other problems by installing incorrect driver updates, especially those that aren’t downloaded from original equipment manufacturer sources. No matter what specific problem your drivers might have, if you leave them without an update for long enough, it may cause more problems, be they minor or fatal to your computer system.
A More Technical Explanation of Device Drivers
Drivers are a group of files that contain information that tells your computer’s operating system how to interact with a particular piece of hardware. Without drivers, you couldn’t connect and use most things on your computer – from external hardware like a mouse or printer to internal components such as the motherboard or video card. One way to think of it is that your computer and a piece of hardware each speak different languages, so they don’t automatically understand each other. A driver acts as a translator, thus allowing the computer and your accompanying hardware to understand each other and function correctly. This is true for all kinds of drivers, though the software we tested focuses mostly on original equipment manufacturer drivers.
This is why it is crucial to keep your drivers updated. If you don’t, the drivers may not receive a critical update or know how to communicate with your computer when it’s updated to the latest operating system version, for example. Computer operating systems typically have a variety of device drivers built into them, but they can’t account for every current and potential driver, which is why it’s important to use driver update software to scan for new possible updates – to keep things running smoothly.
Using a System Restore Point
It is always nice to be able to undo an error or fix a mistake. Luckily, having a system restore point can help you get rid of a bad driver update or other new problems that appear on your home computer. Simply put, a system restore point acts as a back button or undo option, reverting drivers, registries and other elements on your computer back to a previous point, such as before you installed a problematic update. But creating a full-on restore point isn’t the most approachable task, especially for novices. It’s not terribly difficult, but if you don’t feel comfortable doing it, you can ask the tech-savvy person in your family for help or watch a YouTube tutorial.
If you’re using Windows 10, 8.1 or 8, you can follow the steps in the following paragraph to use a system restore point for your computer. We did not include a walkthrough for older systems, for example, those running Windows 7, Windows Vista or Windows XP. You can create a new system update as often as you need, but you likely won’t have to do it too often.
Open your computer’s Control Panel and click on the System and Security tab, then System. From here, click on System Protection, then System Restore. Your computer will likely provide you with a list of recommended restore points – choose the one that best reflects the point in time you want to restore your computer to, then hit Next. Your computer will then have you confirm this restore point, and it will start the process while you wait. Your computer may take longer to do this if you have lots of data to restore, and it may restart once or more. It will then notify you when the restore has completed.
Key Features to Look for in Driver Update Software
Ease of Use
Your techy computer friends don’t use driver update software, and you’re never going to find these apps on an IT manager’s computer. This software is designed for novice computer users. As such, they are all easy to install and use. The best programs, however, provide more customization options.
All the programs we tested have modern interfaces, with large, clearly labeled buttons. Many of the updaters can also backup and restore your existing drivers, which is critical if the app downloads the incorrect update. In addition, you may not want to update every driver, so being able to exclude them is important. However, be aware that some programs hide additional features and functions behind a single tab, and you may need to dig around to access the full functionality.
We also looked closely at the driver update sources. When you’re dealing with software that manages your computer at a system level, everything needs to be secure, and the sources need to be reputable. For example, if you’re updating your HP printer’s driver, it should only come from HP. It is a big red flag if the program suggests another source for the update because it may not download the correct driver or it might download malicious software.
It’s also not uncommon for developers to bundle malware or bloatware into their installers. If a program asks you to install other software during the installation process, you should always decline. If it tries to install other software without first asking, you should immediately stop the installation.
If you don’t want to manually check for driver updates every week or month for every single driver that exists on your computer, look for a program with a built-in scheduling function. With this, you can tell the software to check for updates daily or just once a month. This is also a handy feature for those who aren’t tech-savvy, as it just lets the software take care of everything in the background. We recommend setting it to run at night or another time when you won’t be using the computer so that it won’t bother you with installation.
Is Driver Update Software a Necessity?
It is important to note that driver update software is part of a notorious industry that many IT experts argue preys on the fear and ignorance of novice computer users. The fact is, you don’t need driver update software. Windows has even defined driver update software as potentially unwanted programs (PUP Software). This is due, in part, to the fact that Windows operating systems have built-in tools that can keep your driver software current, and current drivers can be downloaded directly from developer websites for free.
It’s important to understand that updating driver software isn’t necessarily a guaranteed quick fix to a slow computer and likely won’t produce the performance improvements that these companies often claim. In fact, updating some drivers, especially ones from untrustworthy sources, can cause more problems than they fix. It’s best to choose a program that guarantees OEM-sourced drivers, as software from original equipment manufacturers is guaranteed to match.
There are several free driver update programs available online. Some of these free updaters have similar features and tools as the paid programs we tested, but most of them lack critical features or include additional unwanted programs, nag ads or malware. If you’re strapped for cash but need to update your drivers, consider using a free trial version of a for-pay program. Many free trials have very basic tools, but they may be enough. This might be a good place to start, and if you feel like you eventually need more access to the program, you can pay to unlock the full version.
Because many of these alternatives don’t cost money, their developers are less incentivized to provide as many features as paid software or to guarantee original equipment manufacturer (OEM) updates. Freeware may be all you need, though this depends on your computer's age, how you use your computer and how many drivers you have on your machine. However, if you have an older computer or a high-performance machine you rely on for work or gaming, you're most likely better off with a for-pay updater that guarantees it provides developer-sourced drivers that match your hardware, which eliminates the risk of downloading a mismatch or malware.
How to Verify A Driver's Version
If you want to see the version on a driver currently installed on your Windows computer, in order to verify that the driver is up to date, but you don’t want to run the full driver update software every time, don’t worry – there is another way. Manually verifying a driver’s version doesn’t take too long and it helps you avoid the hassle of opening and running the software when a simple check will do. Of course, you can also just run the software if you know it has been a while since your drivers were updated. But if you only want to know the version, this is how:
To check the current version of a driver, click the Start or Windows button, then click on My Computer. From there, click the Manage option. From the Computer Management page, click on the Device Manager. You should be able to see a list of every device and driver that is connected to your computer. Once you’re on this page, click the device category that you want to work with, then double click the device you want to check the driver version information of. A small window will pop up. If you click on the Driver tab within this window, you’ll be able to see all of the information pertaining to the driver.
Depending on the driver, and your operating system version, you may also see a link to the driver’s original equipment manufacturer’s website. It may also tell you if the driver is available for an update and provide you with further information or steps for getting your driver updated.
Other Ways to Update Your Drivers
If paying for and using third-party driver update software still doesn’t seem like your cup of tea, don’t worry. You can still keep your peripheral drivers updated with one of these alternative methods, though you’ll likely need to be quite tech-savvy in order to use some of them. If you aren’t, we still recommend going with a third-party driver update software application, as it does all of the heavy lifting for you.
Via command line. If you’re an advanced user and your computer’s administrator, you can access your machine’s Command Prompt to get a list of all drivers installed on your computer. This should also show you the date they were published, which is different from when it was last updated. From here you can review the drivers and determine if they need an update. You will also have to track down each driver update manually from a hardware manufacturer. If you know how to do all of this, it shouldn’t take too long and gives you the most granular control over each driver.
Via device manager. This method is easier than using command line, though not quite as easy as third-party software for those who are inexperienced computer users. With your computer’s device manager, you can see all of your computer’s components, such as processors and disk drives. From here, you can click on and expand a category to see individual peripherals, then view their properties to view driver install dates and version numbers. This method automates some of the process, as it can automatically search for up-to-date driver software then provide you with a wizard to take you step by step through the installation process. Using the device manager yields the same result as a Windows Update but gives you slightly more granular control over individual components than third-party software would.
How to Verify That Your Driver Update Was Successful
For most people, it’s easy enough to ensure that your latest driver update was successful. Once the update finishes, simply try to use the associated peripheral or component. If it is working correctly then, and especially the few days following the update, you’re most likely good to go.
But for advanced users, it only takes a minute or two to actually verify that the device update was a success. Click start and search for the device manager. From the list provided, look for the category the device falls under, and once you’ve located the specific driver, right-click on its name. Then, from the small pop-up that appears, click on properties. A new window should open. Select the driver tab, and here you should see all relevant details pertaining to the driver, including the driver’s latest version and date, which is what you’ll be looking for. Verify with the original equipment manufacturer source that everything matches and is up to date.
Though it is time-consuming, this is the best way to verify that your driver updates installed correctly. The only downside to this method is that you’ll have to know the name of each individual driver and where to look for it off the top of your head. But otherwise, it is what we recommend doing for every driver update you perform.
From that same window, you can also further manage the driver. There is an option to roll back a specific driver update, which is convenient if the update fails or otherwise causes problems for your computer. You can also manually update, disable or uninstall a driver, should you wish.
How to Copy Drivers to Another PC
Transferring a driver from an old computer to a new computer requires some knowledge, but you can master the chore with the right information. It's useful to know how to copy drivers in case an update doesn’t work or doesn’t provide the functionality you need. However, usually only advanced users, for example people working on testing software or making PCs for specific uses, need to copy drivers.
It isn't difficult to copy drivers and shouldn’t take too long, unless you are copying a huge bundle of them. First, you open your Windows File Explorer and go to the driver repository (C drive > DriverStore > FileRepository). Then, once you find the folder containing your desired driver, copy it to an attached jump drive.
Keep the jump drive connected to this computer until all the drivers you wish to copy have been successfully transferred to it, then safely remove it and connect it to your new computer. Open the flash drive on the new computer, and drag your driver files or the folder you stored them in to the computer’s desktop. Next, open your device manager, and locate the driver you want to install. After that, go to its Properties option with a right click, then tell it to browse your computer for driver software. Once you find the desired driver on your desktop, select it and follow any instructions to install it.
What Are the Risks of Driver Update Software?
All the driver updaters we reviewed are safe to download and use; however, you should still exercise caution when using them. Updating drivers can potentially fix computer problems, but some apps may prompt you to download the wrong drivers from untrustworthy sources, which can make things much worse. Some programs include bloatware, which can significantly impact your computer’s performance, and others contain aggressive upsell notifications prompting you to upgrade the software or purchase some of the developer’s other programs. Many portray the problems they find as much more serious than they are, making it seem like your computer is on the verge of crashing if you don’t upgrade and update your drivers immediately.
Backing Up Your Existing Drivers
With driver update software, you’re downloading and installing an update for a component you use with your computer, such as your webcam, keyboard, printer or any other device you connect to your computer on occasion, like a camera. Sometimes, a driver update is faulty or causes another problem on your computer. This is usually the result of installing an update from a source other than the device manufacturer. To fix the problem, you might be able to delete the upload and try another one, though most of the time you can restore your computer to an exact point before you downloaded that driver and the issue will be no more.
This process of creating and implementing a backup can be a hassle, and a confusing one at that if you are inexperienced with advanced computer maintenance functions. There is a way to do this manually on your computer if you’re computer savvy, but if not, don’t worry – most driver update applications have such functionality built in to them. You can also opt to use backup software from a third party that can run the process for you, but it’s overkill if you already have driver update software.
When you first open your driver update software, we recommend having the software create a copy of your computer so that you can have a backup copy ready to go in the event of a faulty driver. And if you end up with a new driver update that’s causing problems, don’t fret. Simply restore your computer to the point it was before you installed the update. You can also regularly create a backup of your computer each time you install a driver update that runs well, creating a more recent reference point.
Similar Computer Maintenance Programs
If you use driver update software, you likely appreciate having a computer, and peripherals, that run optimally. You may also be interested in other similar programs aimed at fixing a problem on your machine or helping to maintain its health as you continue to use it.
There are a variety of applications out there to look into. If you want something to help manage the health of your computer, look into PC system utilities software. This software is comprehensive and easy to use for the most part. You can use it for things like file recovery, bootup optimization, registry cleaning and freeing up extra disk space.
If you want to free up disk space in an effort to boost your computer’s performance a bit, consider disk defragmenter software. This type of program has the power to consolidate fragmented hard drives and remove duplicate files, which can potentially slow down your laptop or desktop computer.
Ensuring that your computer is safe from malware, ransomware, phishing scams and viruses can be tough if you aren’t tech-savvy. But with antivirus software, you can get some help keeping your home computer safe. This software also comes with additional security tools and is generally easy to use.
If you’re worried about losing important information on your computer in case it crashes, having a backup can really come in handy. Backup software can make a copy of the saved data on your computer. Likewise, if you’re planning on downloading software you’re unsure about, or want to transfer all of your current data – including your operating system, software, file organization, etc. – imaging software makes an exact copy of your entire system. It’s handy to have a copy, just in case.
Other Ways to Maintain Optimal Computer Performance
In addition to checking for outdated drivers and updating them, there are myriad other small things you can do regularly for your computer’s health. Most of these are pretty easy to do; it’s smart to create good habits that can keep your computer running smoothly.
- Check for viruses and spyware.
- Keep everything up to date.
- Do not click on suspicious links.
- Delete unused files and programs.
- Only run programs when you need them.
- Do not have excessive desktop shortcuts.
- Regularly restart your computer.
- Do not have multiple programs launch upon bootup.
If your computer is sluggish right now, developing these habits may help somewhat. However, they aren’t a quick fix for a machine that is just old or slow. If your computer simply isn’t performing to the level that you need, the truth is it might be time for a new one. But if this isn’t a possibility for you right now, don’t fret. You’ve still got another option: upgrade individual components within your computer. This is a great option, but you’ll need to know how to install them yourself. There are a few things you can swap out that can bring minor improvements, such as adding more RAM or upgrading your existing hard disk drive to a solid-state drive, which allows you to save and access files faster.
Component upgrades that will really boost your computer include getting a new processor or graphics card. The caveat of these two components, though, is that they cost a lot; in some cases, they can cost more than a new computer, especially if you’re wanting high-performance brands. We recommend trying the actions in our list to see if they bring about enough of a performance boost before looking into costlier options. But if you do decide to opt for a new computer, check out our article on them to learn more.
How to Prevent a Computer Virus
If you share your computer with other people or you’re the type to click on random buttons and links, your machine is extra susceptible to computer viruses, ransomware, trojans, adware and other malware. These can slow your computer down, corrupt files, prevent you from accessing certain things or even cause your computer to crash. As such, it’s important to learn about the associated risks and be vigilant and smart in your future computer use.
On Your Computer. There is plenty you can do offline to keep your computer running optimally and to make it less susceptible to malicious programs. First, delete all old or unwanted programs, toolbars, etc. In addition, keep your drivers, programs and operating system updated to the latest versions. You also shouldn’t connect unknown or sketchy looking flash drives because they may contain malware. Lastly, we recommend backing up your important documents or using imaging software to create a copy of your entire system.
Security. Security software creates a buffer between the internet and your computer, which is key to keeping your computer virus-free. We recommend using a firewall; Windows computers come with firewall options, and you can set them up to run without downloading and installing external software. You can also run antivirus software or similar programs aimed at dealing with ransomware, malware and so forth. You can schedule these programs to run scans as frequently as you want; however, be sure to keep them updated as well.
Going Online. It is possible to use the internet heavily and totally avoid malware, viruses and phishing scams – it just takes some know-how and a few good habits. One of the most important things you can do is to alway use a trusted and secure internet connection. This is easy to set up at home if you give your Wi-Fi a super strong password that’s hard to guess; steer clear of birthdays, pet names and similarly simple passwords. When you’re out on the town, be wary of Wi-Fi connections, especially if they have sketchy names and are open to anyone.
Next, install an ad blocker in your browser. You won’t have to see annoying ads, and you’ll be less likely to click on something that looks like a link or button but really isn’t.
We also highly recommend paying for a quality password manager like LastPass. You can store all your passwords and secure information in a central place and won’t have to write them down on paper or worry about constantly resetting them. Password manager applications can also automatically create new, secure passwords for you – ones that are difficult for anyone to guess and less likely to be hacked.
Most people are hacked or encounter threats through email. Don’t reply to, click on links or download files from email addresses you don’t recognize. When looking through sketchy emails, also watch out for excess typos and anything asking you to verify your information outside of the actual corresponding website. And before clicking on links, in general, hover your mouse over them and double check that the URL leads to the correct website and not a similar but false website.