After a Windows 7 Upgrade
If you upgraded to Windows 7 from Vista, then there may have been various drivers that were excluded from the upgrade process because Windows itself didn’t come with compatible drivers (or believed there to be a compatibility issue). For those hardware items to work, you’ll need to find an appropriate driver. Windows 7 does a relatively good job with drivers (compared to earlier versions of Windows), but it can’t include all possible drivers.
Even if you didn’t upgrade and installed Windows 7 fresh on your PC, there could be missing drivers, especially if your computer is a bit older or you have older peripherals and devices attached to it.
For example, when I upgraded my Sony VAIO laptop that’s several years old, the display brightness control stopped working, so I had to go get the proper motherboard and keyboard drivers to resolve this annoyance.
Finding Windows 7 Drivers – The fast and easy way
There are several ways to approach driver updates in Windows 7. The easiest way I’ve found is to download Driver Robot and do a quick scan of your drivers (especially if you’re non-technical and just want this driver problem to go away).
This tool will scan your Windows installation, and automatically pinpoint any missing, out of date or driver issues, along with finding you the best available driver. It only takes a couple of minutes and is a worthwhile and easy step to take. Best of all, it’s free to download and do the scan.
Another easy thing to do is to check Windows Update to see if a new driver might be available on the Windows site (doubtful if you just upgraded, but worth a try anyway). To access Windows Update, simply click on Start, then All Programs and choose Windows Update. Sometimes you’ll get lucky and the driver you need will be there.
The old-fashioned way – with a bit more manual effort and time for each driver…
If Windows Update doesn’t find the driver you need, you can always go to the hardware vendor’s website and look for the driver there. Drivers are usually located in the “Support” area of a vendor’s website. You’ll need to know the model number of the hardware, so you can see what drivers are available. If you don’t find a specific driver marked for Windows 7, you can usually get away just using the latest Vista driver (I say usually, because sometimes these drivers aren’t compatible and were excluded from the Windows Upgrade for a reason).
If you’re more technical, you can always run a Web search for your driver by typing “hardware driver”; e.g., to find a driver for an HP Office Jet 7300 printer, you could search for “HP OfficeJet 7300 driver”. In this example, you’ll see on Google that the right link comes up at the top of the search results, then you have to poke around on the vendor’s website until you find the driver you need, then download it and install it.
After installing or upgrading to Windows 7, your PC is actually working after installation, but a number of things are may not be running optimally and some of the more obscure devices may not be working at all (like my brightness control I mentioned earlier, for example). More specialized multi-media PC’s and portable devices are especially likely to require some driver updates for full functionality to be restored.
The fastest and easiest way to find all your drivers and keep them up-to-date is to get Driver Robot – it’s free to download and do a quick scan. I use it now and don’t have to worry or waste time dealing with out of date drivers. It will scan your system and quickly pinpoint driver issues, and best of all, it’ll locate the best driver for you in it’s database of over 100,000 drivers. In fact, this little tool is so easy to use and comprehensive, I think I’ll dedicate an entire post to it later.
I hope this gets you started in the right direction to resolve your Windows 7 driver-related issues.