How to Install Drivers on a Laptop

By Gregory Hamel

Device drivers are software components that go along with computer hardware and help the operating system utilize the hardware. Many hardware devices such as video cards, sound cards and network cards require driver software and installing new drivers may improve device function. For instance, if you use a laptop computer and use a wireless networking card to connect to the Internet, installing a new driver for the device may boost your wireless signal strength. The basic process of installing drivers is essentially the same for both laptops and desktops.

Install Driver Updates Automatically

Step 1

Click "Start," "Control Panel," "Administrative Tools," "Computer Management" and "Device Manager."

Step 2

Click the plus (+) sign next to any device category in the list to expand a list of your installed devices of that type. For instance, if you want to update your display adapter (video card) click on the plus sign next to "Display adapters."

Step 3

Right-click on a device and select "Update Driver Software..." and choose "Search automatically for updated driver software." Your machine will search for and install available driver updates for the device.

Manually Install Drivers

Step 1

Follow Steps 1 and 2 from Section 1 and then right-click on the device you want to update and select "Properties." Note the device name and the manufacturer's name.

Step 2

Go to the website of the device's manufacturer and search for driver downloads relevant your specific device. Many hardware manufacturers host device driver downloads at their official websites and allow you to search for driver support by the name or model number of your device.

Step 3

Download a driver designed for your hardware device and operating system. Check your operating system version, click "Start," right-click "My computer" and select "Properties."

Step 4

Run the driver setup or install executable file (.exe) after your download is complete to install the driver. Restart your computer.

Tips & Warnings

  • Computer manufacturers often host driver downloads for their machines. For instance, if you have a Dell laptop you may be able to locate drivers for your laptop at Dell's driver support page.