Smart Use of DriverAgent Improves Driver Update Results

I’ve been a fan of and subscriber to the Driver Updates Web site at www.DriverAgent.com for over two years, and have found it to be a reasonably safe and workable way to keep PC drivers up to date. Because I run anywhere from four to seven machines at any given moment—the actual count depends on how many projects I’ve got going and what requirements my test machines must satisfy—this involves at least four hours a month of my time just in keeping up with changes, updates, and so forth. Whenever I build a new machine (to the tune of a dozen or more each year) or test a ready-made PC (to the tune of a couple of dozen notebooks and as many as a dozen desktops) ensuring drivers are current and correct is important for testing and benchmarking.

What I’ve also learned over the past couple of years is that downloading and running mammoth driver collections—such as the Intel or AMD chipset drivers, or various motherboard component drivers that include HD Audio, Networking (wireless and wired), USB root and regular hubs, and so forth—doesn’t always bring my PCs completely up to currency when I’m trying to catch their drivers up. Particularly with Windows Vista, whose superior file indexing technology pays handsome dividends when using Device Manager to update drivers, I’ve discovered a couple of supplementary techniques for improving my “hit rate” in making sure my drivers are up to date. Just in the past three or four months (it’s June 2008 as I write this) I’ve seen this kind of screen show up on the vast majority of my updated PCs, when applying the kind of method I’m about to relate.

DriverAgent screen image


There are two tricks I’ve stumbled across that have consistently helped me to achieve such results. Both start from the Update driver entry in the right click menu for devices listed in device manager, as shown here:

Device manager image

Selecting this menu entry lets you instruct Windows to search for a better driver on your behalf, as shown here:

Browsing for driver updates (image)

    1. Search automatically for updated driver software still takes a while to complete (waits of up to a minute, even on fast Internet connections are normal, while several minutes can easily slip by while you wait on a slower connection), but often produces useful results (at least compared to my experience with this option with Windows XP two or more years ago).
    2. Browse my computer for driver software remains where the real action is, especially if you use a service like DriverAgent to help you locate and download the most current driver files onto your PC. Trick number one appears if you select this option, where you’ll find something interesting on Vista (you can get there on XP as well, but it requires a few more contortions)—namely:

 

Browsing for driver updates (image)


        1. Things can get interesting when you click the Let me pick from a list of device drivers on my computer on Vista, thanks to its file indexing services. As the next screenshot indicates, selecting this option does a pretty good job of popping up nearly every potentially usable driver on your PC. Of course as that listing also indicates, the drivers must be labeled with version numbers and dates for you to really be able to tell them apart and to pick the right one. This is where DriverAgent (and similar services) provide a real value-add, because they will tell you which version (and date) you need to get the most current file—at least, from their perspective (but that’s a whole ‘nother story). On Vista, this approach will get you the driver you need in most cases, even if running the install files that DriverAgent tells you to doesn’t produce the desired results. Note in the screen shot that we had to scroll “hard right” on the driver listing to discover which ones were the most current (there’s a 5/2/2008 item lower down in the list that you can’t see in this screen shot, in fact).

       

 

Selecting a network adapter (image)

      1. Trick Number Two becomes necessary when Trick Number One doesn’t succeed in getting you to the 100% rating (or as close as you can get, anyway). In that case, you’ll want to browse manually for driver files, which usually means into a C:\Program Files\Intel directory for Intel drivers, C:\Program Files\Nvidia directory for Nvidia drivers, and so forth. If you’re lucky, Vista will recognize a newer driver than the one currently installed and give you the option of installing it. If it doesn’t find something newer, you’ll see a screen like this one:
        Driver is already installed (image)
        If this happens to you, don’t give up until you’ve tried any and every conceivable directory where a more up-to-date driver might lurk without obtaining different results. In particular, I’ve learned to like the mega-downloads that come in ZIP files of late because when you unzip them they will usually deposit drivers that you may actually be able to use to update your PC. Even if the software indexing doesn’t find them (and in most cases it does), you can still zero in on these items by exercising some diligence and persistence.

You, too, can bring your PC to 100% currency, and with greater ease if it’s a Vista PC. Give it a try at DriverAgent.com

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This entry was posted in ViztaView.com Archive and tagged , by Ed Tittel. Bookmark the permalink.

About Ed Tittel

Full-time freelance writer, researcher and occasional expert witness, I specialize in Windows operating systems, information security, markup languages, and Web development tools and environments. I blog for numerous Websites, still write (or revise) the occasional book, and write lots of articles, white papers, tech briefs, and so forth.

Comments

Smart Use of DriverAgent Improves Driver Update Results — 1 Comment

  1. Dear CRLV:
    When applications get blocked individually in Windows, that usually speaks to a Group Policy (GPO) setting of some kind. But if your mentor has set you a challenge that he wishes you to surmount, it probably is — as you have surmised — related to ports being blocked or limited. You can research this matter by googling “firewall ports YouTube” which produces many interesting results, including this entry from the Google Product Forums on Youtube . Not surprisingly, there are a great many YouTube videos also directed to this topic! A bit of poking about online, with attendant experimentation, should make this problem solvable.
    OTOH, if it really is a GPO setting, you won’t be able to edit group policy settings without obtaining access either to the Local Policy Editor, or to the Group Policy console in Active Directory. That’s a whole ‘nother can of worms, and will take some active assistance from your mentor (who presumably has those passwords) to address.
    Good luck.
    –Ed–

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