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When I install Windows on a machine, it is always a pain to download all drivers: is there any free program that could take care of this? I found a few ones like DriverNavigator but I haven't found any free one.

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As an aside, you rarely want software to autoinstall drivers. drivers usually come with a bunch of marginware that in the best case is useless and in the worst case can damage your system. For example, unless you have an Nvidia sound card, you don't want to install the HD audio drivers along with your GPU drivers. – Nzall Jul 7 '14 at 11:03
Related: Tool to manage all drivers. – Undo Jan 25 '15 at 21:03
Additional tip: You can use the built-in tool dism to inject drivers into the install.wim file. If you put the install files on USB stick (or any read-write location) you can mount the install.wim and inject drivers. Don't forget to comitt changes and unmount. – cybernard Sep 8 '15 at 4:23
up vote 7 down vote accepted

You can use SlimDrivers Free:

  • free and portable
  • Make sure you uncheck the crapware while installing
  • Scan for missing or out-of-date date drivers
  • Download updated drivers manually

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You can use :

  • web app, but installs a client software that does the actual hardware detection
  • free as in beer, don't know what the license is but it doesn't look like a for-profit website
  • no crapware, at least not when I last had to use it which was in 2013
  • uses the driver DB from Tous les (means "all" in French) which is up to date and provides direct downloads for a wide range of drivers
  • doesn't force you to install anything and doesn't install anything automatically, it just displays a list of devices for which a driver is needed (whether there is currently no driver or the current one is outdated) and gives the corresponding link for you to manually download and install.

Finally, you could also try running Windows Update and making sure to install recommended updates, it often provides drivers in there. While they're not the latest, they usually work fine and that's all you want.

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Windows Update

I have always got on fine with just using windows update. Except when I don't have network card drivers, but then nothing can help me.

Generally when you install new hardware windows update just opens.

Instructions for windows 7 can be found here., I'm sure you can find them for your version.

This also will not work in older versions of windows. (It works fine in Windows Vista, 7 and 8, I can no longer remember if it works in XP. It definately does not in 98 or prior)

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I personally used the free version of DriverMax for a few years and never had any problems. It is good at identifying unrecognized drivers and offers easy driver backup and restore (keep a regular backup on a USB stick in case you ever need to reinstall Windows)).

The free version only allows you 2 drivers per day, but that is usually enough.

I purchased a year's subscription when I had 3 or 4 PCs to "upgrade" From Windows 8 to Windows 7 and find it money well spent.

Obligatory screen-shot:

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