Most hardware and devices work just fine on a computer system that is running a Microsoft Windows operating system. Microsoft is providing generic drivers for the most important components that ensure that the computer system is working properly. Generic drivers on the other hand have the problem that they do not provide access to specialized features. They are also not optimized. Many users therefor install drivers that are supplied by the manufacturer of the device to take advantage of these features. And this is where the problems begin. These drivers are not automatically updated when new versions are released. There is usually no way of knowing that a new driver has been released unless the user visits the developer's website to check for new drivers, signs up for some notification service (if offered) or visits third party hardware sites that list driver updates on their websites.
A software that would handle all of these would be more than welcome. There is unfortunately no official one. A few third party tools have been released in the past that have tried to address the problem; Most of them with mediocre success thanks to the amount of devices and drivers available.
Device Doctor promises to do better. The free program scans Windows for driver updates and displays information and download links in a report at the end of the scan. And this is where the confusion starts. Device Doctor mixes update notifications of devices like video cards, sound cards or network cards with internal device driver updates like those for standard dual channel PCI controllers or a plug and play monitor.
The software did find updates for several devices like the Realtek network adapter or the Creative Soundblaster X-Fi audio card. The manufacturer's website confirmed that updates were available.
It does make sense to check the manufacturer's homepage before installing these driver updates; At least for the first few times that Device Doctor is being used. There is still the lingering question whether to update the generic hardware drivers as well. I personally would be very cautious about it. Decided against it on the test system but some users who might experience problems related to a specific device on their computer system might want to give it a go to see if the update fixes the problem.
Device Doctor is available at the developer's website.
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Ghacks is a technology news blog that was founded in 2005 by Martin Brinkmann. It has since then become one of the most popular tech news sites on the Internet with five authors and regular contributions from freelance writers.