Last updated in April 2024

Top 5 Ways to Locate Missing Drivers

We've all seen it: Windows can't locate a driver for the device you're connecting to your computer and you realize you're going to have to hunt for the right driver file. Drivers are small applications that enable hardware devices to talk to your PC's Windows operating system. Usually, you'll find a driver disk included in the box with whatever peripheral you're trying to use. Typically, you'll most often see this warning message when you're connecting a new device for the first time.

Note: If you've successfully connected this device in the past, or never disconnected it and it's showing you this warning message, it could be that the device in question is dying a slow death. Additionally, the existing device driver could have been corrupted or affected by other file or program installs. In either case, you're going to have locate the correct, up-to-date driver file. Read on to find out how!

Windows does its part to try and help you find a driver that will work for you, including going online to search Windows Update for an acceptable file. More often than not Windows will be unable to locate the right file, or worse yet download and install an old or incorrect version.

Often then the hunt is on - you can follow the steps below to locate the driver you need to make your device work correctly (for those not technically inclined you may want to skip to the last tip):

1. Check the manufacturer's website for updated driver files.

These will often be in the Support or Downloads section of their website. You'll need to know the specific model of your device as well, so be sure to note the model number, most likely listed on the serial number sticker on the hardware component itself. If you've found the correct driver on the manufacturer's website, be sure to pay close attention to the installation instructions provided prior to the download link. Often drivers need to be installed in a specific order to make them work properly. Also, the driver download package may include drivers for multiple operating systems and the folders may be poorly labeled. You'll need to pay close attention to the installation instructions on the vendor's site to make sure you point Windows to the correct downloaded folder.