Best Driver Update Software of 2018

Suzanne Humphries ·
Electronics & Software Writer
Updated
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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.

Best Overall
Driver Booster
Driver Booster found more outdated drivers than any other program we tested, and its usefulness extends beyond that – it can also backup and restore your drivers, schedule automatic scans and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.
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Best Value
Driver Genius
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.
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Most Intuitive Interface
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With Smart Driver Updater, it’s easy to scan for out-of-date drivers, and the program can update them automatically with current drivers from original equipment manufacturer sources.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.
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Product
Price
OVERALL RATING
Price
Performance
Features
Support
Ease of Use
Total Drivers Found
Version Detail
Driver Source
One-Click Fix
Driver Backup & Restore
Exclusion Option
OEM Drivers Only
Uninstall Option
Updates
Scheduler
Void of Bloatware & Ads
Computer Licenses
Windows Version Compatibility
Direct Support
Knowledgebase
Forum
$22.95 Iobit
5 5 4 5
A+
91
Automatic
3
10, 8.1, 8, 7, XP
Phone
$29.95 Smartdriverupdater
5 5 5 3.5
A+
81
Automatic
1
10, 8, 7, XP
Email
$29.95 Drivereasy
5 4.5 5 3.5
A
73
Automatic
3
10, 8.1, 8, 7, XP
Email
$29.99 Reviversoft
5 4.5 4 5
B
72
Automatic
1
10, 8, 7, XP
Email
$9.99 Driversupport
5 4.5 5 3.5
B-
69
Automatic
1
10, 8, 7, XP
Chat, Email, Phone
$29.95 Winzipdriverupdater
5 4.5 4 3.5
A-
66
Automatic
1
10, 8.1, 8, 7, XP
Email
$39.95 Auslogics
4.5 4.5 4 3.5
B+
75
Manual
3
10, 8.1, 8, 7, XP
Email
$29.95 Driverfinderpro
5 4 4 3.5
A+
70
Manual
3
10, 8, 7, XP
Email
$29.95 Systweak
5 3.5 4 3.5
A
48
Automatic
1
10, 8.1, 8, 7, XP
Email, Phone
$22.95 Driver-Soft
5 4 3 3.5
C-
62
Automatic
3
10, 8.1, 8, 7, XP
Email
Best Overall
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.
Pros
  • Found the most drivers
  • Is easy to install and use
  • Includes three computer licenses
Cons
  • Doesn’t guarantee it uses OEM drivers
  • Has bloatware and ads
  • Wasn’t consistent with number of outdated drivers found
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Read the full review
Best Value
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.
Pros
  • Is fairly consistent in finding outdated drivers
  • Lets you set automatic updates
  • Comes with three computer licenses
Cons
  • No OEM source guarantee
  • No driver uninstall option
  • No scheduling feature
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Read the full review
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.
Pros
  • Is intuitive and easy to use
  • Only sources OEM drivers
  • Has a driver backup and restore feature
Cons
  • Low number of outdated drivers found
  • Only one computer license
  • No community user forum on developer’s website
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Read the full review
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.
Pros
  • Great selection of direct and indirect customer support options
  • Automatically updates drivers
  • Only uses OEM drivers
Cons
  • No driver uninstall option
  • Not free from ads and bloatware
  • Not the easiest program to use
$29.99ReviverSoft
Read the full review
Quickest Setup
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.
Pros
  • Is fast and easy to setup
  • Shows driver download source details
  • Has a good consistency rate for found drivers
Cons
  • No version details
  • No uninstall option
  • No scheduling feature
-
Read the full review

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.

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.

Driver Sources
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.

Scheduling
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.


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.