Should Drivers be updated regularly?

I have driver update turned off in MS Update, and advise people not to update unless they have a known specific reason to do so. I know this was good policy 'back in the day', but that day is at least 5 years since I kept close track of this stuff.

Now Susan Bradley from AskWoody says:
We are no longer in the "install drivers once and never revisit them again" era. We now need to consider drivers to be as patchable as our operating systems.

What do you hardware experts say now—monthly driver updates via MS, or…?
Not any kind of expert, but I keep my GPU drivers up to date as soon as new ones are released. Chipset I'll do every so often when I remember, after a while they stop coming anyway.

Stuff like sound, network or USB I usually only do if there's some kind of issue. I had no idea MS was updating any kind of drivers, it doesnt seem to do any of the major ones for me, at least not that I notice.
The question is actually relative. If you sense the platform is sluggish or seemingly lackluster, you reinstall the drivers or make sure that they're up to date. The thing with Windows 10 and beyond is that the OS can and will download and install updates it thinks is right for your platform, which inadvertently breaks something or everything within the OS.

Perhaps make it a healthy habit of visiting your part maker's support site every month and seeing if there are any updates pending.

The other thing to keep in mind, is the old adage, if it ain't broke, don't fix it.

FYI, I'm still on an EVGA Z97 Stinger + i7-4770K...from the looks of things with the OS, I might need to reinstall the OS, given how the platform treats all of my USB drives as physical drives native to the chipset storage controller(as if they're SATA drives).
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Driver updates look like they're listed under optional in Windows Update for Win 11 for me.

It is relative, that's true. If you play new games then there are usually optimizations for those games released in driver updates for GPU's. Once a GPU is a generation or two old then Nvidia/AMD stop those optimizations in favour of the newer architectures.

So if you have older hardware and dont play new games theres not much benefit to updating GPU drivers every release either.
My general approach is to not update drivers unless you are having problems. Installing new drivers can introduce problems you didn't have before.

If you must update them, Don't use programs like Driver Booster as they have been known to install the wrong drivers - before I knew this, I used it and it did just that. So you can let it update PC and suddenly find you have no sound.

Better to go to motherboard/Hardware makers website than to wait for MIcrosoft to get newer copies. The ones that show on Windows Update are only the updates supplied to MS for signature. Lots of drivers are released using signatures that applied to previous versions. Nvidia hasn't given them new drivers in over 2 years now.

GPU drivers are about only ones I would bother updating on a regular basis and even then it depends on age of GPU. The older the card, the less likely any changes in the drivers are for your hardware.

AMD have 2 types of drivers, the catalyst ones and then they have what they call Legacy. The legacy drivers are one set of drivers that supposedly look after every GPU prior to... um.. here is a list -

Nvidia just have 1 lot of drivers for everything but as I said, the chances new drivers help a GTX 980 6 years after the card was released are pretty small.

I haven't updated my GPU since I got it, mainly as I saw the new AMD GPU drivers have issues with windows. The ones I have work for me.

if motherboard is old, the only new drivers you likely to get really come from Realtek (Audio or LAN drivers) or Intel/AMD (Chipset drivers) and they have their own websites that include them. Even if its new, I am still more likely to go to the source and not MB maker for those drivers as MB makers are slow to update their sites too.
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i agree with lutfij ... i come from the old school of if it aint broke dont fix it.
The only time i update gpu driver is if i see something not performing as i would expect it to , this "sometimes" happens when i install my latest purchase.

Windows update changed the way you got them a long time ago , you used to be able to choose what you wanted and hide the rest so they did not get offered to you again. Now you have to take everything. Even optional updates such as 22H2 that appear in optional eventually get given to you without asking you.

I once tried a 3rd party program on my spare pc that was supposed to "hide" updates i did not want but it did not seem to work because windows did not seem to know i was trying to hide them so i got offered them again .... or maybe i did not do it right
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As stated by Colif above, third party apps can and will send your platform belly up. CCleaner was blacklisted since it was removing things from the OS registry(this is Windows 10+ ).

Driver Booster...well, I have first hand experience with that app. Client of mine decided to install it and use it since he wasn't bothered to manually search for the drivers for his platform. Ruined his OS and almost bricked the laptop's motherboard. Gave said client a good scolding and then proceeded to repair the damage he'd done.

A few years later, I built said smart client a desktop, then was handed the system for "regular maintenance", before I began on cleaning the system's innards and drives, to my surprise, I saw the same app again. Called him up and asked that he take the system back, refusing to work on it again. He kept apologizing but I wanted to drive home a message, which was do not use driver booster!
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Their does seem to be an increase in 3rd party programs doing more than they used to , even the more popular ones do things behind your back. The most dangerous ones are duplicate file/folder removers , i used one once and it trashed my pc because it did not show me what it found ,.... it just did it.

Many years ago i used to do a full reinstall of everything once a year as it seems to be the best way to have a good safe way to get rid of rubbish..... think i am going to go back to doing that.
All the companies that used to make money selling AV have splintered off into selling Driver Updaters now. Norton has one, Avast did but they were taken over by Norton I think now. Its all becoming one big company with multiple different programs that all do the same thing... slow down your PC.

If Microsoft made it a one click action and driver makers actually gave them drivers, all these software programs would die off, and they have to find another way to make money

Not all AV makers were that scummy. Just a lot of them.
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I only tend to update GPU drivers. There really is no need to update other drivers if your system is working fine.

I stay away from any kind of Updater/Cleaner/Antivirus software as they usually want to charge you money for something you don't need and will mostly like try to install other software at the same time.

I stopped using Kaspersky antivirus software a few years ago and now just use Windows Defender and manually run MalwareBytes once a month.
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i am very suspicious of programs offering driver updates , ccleaner that i no longer use added this to the interface , it shows whats out of date but you cant have them unless you subscribe to ccleaner pro .

My wife lenovo laptops software keeps telling her all sorts of drivers are out of date.

In both cases i google the drivers and find out i am up to date so i have to ask the obvious ...... what would i get if i took up the offer of THEIR offer of updates

Rolfil ..... my kaspersky has 100 days left on it but because of whats happening in the real world i wont be renewing it.
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lenovo updaters are probably fine. If it came with the device it should only install software for it. They aren't 3rd party. They made the hardware.

Its possible the updater on her PC is out of date.

I use Bitdefender, I just prefer it to defender.

CCleaner is cancer. It removes dump files, so if you having BSOD and run it, you won't have any evidence to show people who can help. You don't need registry cleaners. All these programs are echoes of the past. Nortons entire business is not really needed. They used to sell utilities to speed up windows. Windows is now at a stage it doesn't need them.


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