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Chapter 17. Getting the Most Out of Devi... > Tips for Downloading Device Drivers

Tips for Downloading Device Drivers

Finding device drivers on the World Wide Web is an art in itself. I can’t tell you how much of my life I’ve wasted rooting around manufacturer websites trying to locate a device driver. Most hardware vendor sites seem to be optimized for sales rather than service, so although you can purchase, say, a new printer with just a mouse click or two, downloading a new driver for that printer can take a frustratingly long time. To help you avoid such frustration, here are some tips from my hard-won experience:

  • If the manufacturer offers different sites for different locations (such as different countries), always use the company’s “home” site. Most mirror sites aren’t true mirrors, and (Murphy’s Law still being in effect) it’s usually the driver you’re looking for that a mirror site is missing.

  • The temptation when you first enter a site is to use the search feature to find what you want. This works only sporadically for drivers, and the site search engines almost always return marketing or sales material first.

  • Instead of the search engine, look for an area of the site dedicated to driver downloads. The good sites will have links to areas called Downloads or Drivers, but it’s far more common to have to go through a Support or Customer Service area first.

  • Don’t try to take any shortcuts to where you think the driver might be hiding. Trudge through each step the site provides. For example, it’s common to have to select an overall driver category, and then a device category, and then a line category, and then the specific model you have. This is tedious, but it almost always gets you where you want to go.

  • If the site is particularly ornery, the preceding method might not lead you to your device. In that case, try the search engine. Note that device drivers seem to be particularly poorly indexed, so you might have to try lots of search text variations. One thing that usually works is searching for the exact filename. How can you possibly know that? A method that often works for me is to use Google (www.google.com) or Google Groups (groups.google.com) or some other web search engine to search for your driver. Chances are someone else has looked for your file and will have the filename (or, if you’re really lucky, a direct link to the driver on the manufacturer’s site).

  • When you get to the device’s download page, be careful which file you choose. Make sure that it’s a Vista driver, and make sure that you’re not downloading a utility program or some other nondriver file.

  • When you finally get to download the file, be sure to save it to your computer rather than opening it. If you reformat your system or move the device to another computer, you’ll be glad you have a local copy of the driver so that you don’t have to wrestle with the whole download rigmarole all over again.


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