DriverTuner claims to make it easy for you to keep the drivers on your system up-to-date, but before we talk about whether the program is any good, you might be wondering why you should care at all. In fact, your drivers are one of the single most important parts of your computer’s operating system. They are what allow your computer to know how to use the various pieces of equipment attached to it. Your mouse has a driver. Your sound card has a driver. Your video card has a driver. Without properly working drivers, your computer would simply be a large doorstop.
The problem is, there are a lot of things that can go wrong with your drivers. Sometimes they can cause a conflict between each other, like a video card driver causing your sound card to stop working. Sometimes they can be buggy, just like any other piece of software, and they frequently get updated to try to get the best use out of the devices they control. Further, because there are literally hundreds of thousands of different pieces of hardware in use out there, it can often be difficult for an average user to find the right drivers for their system. These are the problems that DriverTuner claims to be able to solve, by creating an all-in-one solution for keeping your drivers up to date and free of conflicts.
To begin with, DriverTuner is an extremely small program – only a little over two megabytes – and very quick to install. It works on any version of Windows going back to Windows 2000, so it runs fine on any halfway modern computer. Furthermore, it is remarkably simple to use. There are only four icons on its main taskbar, but for the most part the only button you’ll need is the big “Start Scan” button in the middle of the screen. It can automatically scan your system in just a few moments and collect details about every piece of hardware in your computer. With a database of over 200,000 drivers, including default configurations from all the major computer manufacturers, we had no problems getting it to identify everything we had.
After running the scan, DriverTuner brings up a list of all the hardware on your computer, the current driver version, and which ones have more recent versions available online. You simply check off which ones you want to update, press download, and it does the rest for you. In nearly all cases, it can install the driver automatically for you (this often requires a Windows reboot before it functions), although in very rare cases you have to go into its directory and unzip the driver installation package manually. In general, then, it does exactly what it promises to, and does it quickly and simply.
It also has a few other nice benefits. Going into its Settings menu, we discovered that it has an option to automatically start on Windows startup, so that you can have it check for updates whenever you boot your computer. Or, if you are the sort to leave your system running for long stretches, you can also set up an automatic scan which runs every now and then.
Another useful aspect of the program is that you don’t even have to know what a piece of hardware is for DriverTuner to find the drivers for it. For example, if you pick up an old printer at a garage sale without a software disc or manual, the program can still identify it and pull down the right drivers for it. Finally, more advanced users of newer Windows versions might be interested to know that the program can override the WHQL (Windows Hardware Quality Labs) testing requirements and allow you to install non-certified drivers, although the help files correctly point out that this is a somewhat risky thing to do unless you’re certain you know what you’re doing.
Since it does pretty much what it claims to, most of the problems with DriverTuner involve things it doesn’t do, but perhaps should. When it comes up with the list of hardware on your computer, all it really tells you is what version of the driver is currently installed, and whether there is a more recent version online. It gives no guidance regarding whether or not you should go ahead and update the driver, and even the help files suggest not updating anything that isn’t giving you problems.
Yet, at the same time, a driver upgrade – especially for video cards, sound cards, and other gaming-related devices – will contain genuine enhancements that help improve your system’s performance. So, it’s something of a shot in the dark as to whether a given driver download will help or hinder you, or make no difference at all. This would not be a terribly major issue, except that the program also does not have any ability to back up your old drivers or restore them if a driver upgrade ends up creating new problems. This is, in our view, a fairly major oversight. If you plan on using this program extensively, you should make sure that your computer is configured to back itself up regularly so that you can use the System Restore function if something gets broken.
“Unbelievable! DriverTuner™ solved my graphics card problem and saved my money! I tried to play new game but find it sometimes come with a screen flashing and freeze… DriverTuner™ helped me update all hardware drivers with the latest drivers, especially my old video driver. Now the game is running more smoothly!”
–Stephen Roodhouse- Wisconsin, US
All in all, DriverTuner does what it says it does, and does it quickly and easily. If your computer lacks any built-in tools for updating its drivers, something many computer manufacturers now include, it will get the job done. We wish it had some sort of system for rolling back changes you make to your system, but aside from that, DriverTuner is a solid piece of software.