Jul 04

Drivers should be as current as possible, and there are lots of places on the Web to find updated ones.

Drivers that are not signed and drivers that are not up-to-date are dangerous pieces of software. Unruly drivers can cause your hardware or software to hang, cause your printer to print garbled text, and even cause your computer to crash. If you want to enhance system performance, you need to make a concerted effort to keep your drivers updated. There are several ways to do this, listed next in order from most trusted to least:

■ Windows Update
■ Manufacturer’s web site
■ CD-ROM that came with the hardware
■ Well-known third-party web sites such as http://www.windrivers.com
■ Message boards and lesser-known third-party web sites

Of course, if a driver is offered to you via Windows Update, it’s been signed and can be installed safely. Manufacturers offer their drivers too, and although these are almost always okay to install, they may not be signed. CD-ROMs that come with your hardware are a good choice too, but they typically are older than what the manufacturer offers on the web site.

If the previous three options don’t offer new drivers, and if your computer is having problems with an existing driver, you can try well-known third-party web sites such as WinDriver.com, DriverGuide.com, and PCDrivers.com. On these sites, you can view drivers that may have been created for another piece of hardware but that have been tested and proven to work on others. Users write comments about each driver, offering a personal touch. Finally, drivers can be obtained from other sites, such as message boards and lesser-known third-party web sites, but this should be a last resort.