Let’s face it, updating printer drivers has been one of the least of our priorities in our usage of the computer. Ninety-nine percent (99%) of all printers come with their own driver softwares, the printer software itself and a few extras in one CD installer. In installing the new printer, we unbox it, plug in all the cables, pop in the CD installer, go through the monotonous installer wizard, reboot the computer and viola! The printer is good to go.
The thing is, these drivers and softwares are often not of the latest versions because they were sealed inside the CD months or even years before you bought the printer. So it’s a very good step to update your printer driver and other software via the internet once you’ve installed them. One could easily do this because the softwares have automated update functions, you just need an internet connection to pull it off.
Trouble is, sometimes the printer software doesn’t do this smoothly. For one reason or another, probably because it’s already out-of-date, it fails to complete the automatic update process. I often encounter this problem with my the HP printers I’ve used over the years. The HP printer software that comes with the Deskjet series can initiate the auto-update process but most of the time, it fails to complete it. I even had to kill the app via the three keys that made Windows so famous: Alt + Ctrl + Del
So I had to do it the geeky way: manually. Scary for the non-techie but it’s a worth while skill to learn because you’d never know when you have to install or update printer drivers manually. In Windows, it follows the basic process of uninstalling the old driver first, usually via the uninstaller that comes with it or through the Install/Uninstall Programs utility in the Control Panel, then installing the newer one. It’s that easy.
Download the newer driver first
Of course you need to download the updated version of your printer’s driver first before you could ever do this whole process. (Thank me for stating the obvious!) The installer CD that came with your printer is all but useless save for the one thing that’s printed on it’s label: the website address of your printer’s manufacturer.
It is the best option to download your printer’s driver from the website of its manufacturer. Duh! Because hey, no one else knows what’s the latest version of the driver and no one else has the most secure, stable and reliable copy of that driver than its manufacturer.
Plus it has the official support people and mechanism to help you out in case have questions or when things go wrong. It may take some time and even cost a few bucks but it will be worth it because of the reasons I’ve said earlier. This information, such as exact model number, along with the other technical info can be found in your back, side or bottom side of your printer. This would come in handy in searching for the exact driver for your printer or when you ask for support from your printer manufacturer.
A lot of websites, forums and blogs have been built around this topic. These are knowledgeable individuals who have banded together to provide any or combinations of the following:
Sources for official and up-to-date drivers
One such site is ComputerHope.com they provide an extensive list of printer manufacturers, some basic info about them and most of all links to their respective drivers pages.
Giving reviews, mods, hacks, and support/tutorials
Forums and communities are the staple for community-driven support. One could learn a wealth of knowledge, tips, how-tos and a bunch of other neat stuff from the experience and expertise of their members, mostly for free! Sometimes, it’s way better than receiving some useless, machine-generated mambo-jambo from them big corporations. One particular community site I’ve found to be great is DriverGuide.com’s community forums where one could request for the actual printer driver and it comes with some tips and background info.
Provide driver downloads for free
One reliable site I’ve found in this category is Driver Support Registry where they offer not only printer drivers but almost any kind of driver organized according to what kind of hardware and manufacturer all of which can be downloaded for free.
Legally this is in the gray area as hosting and providing proprietary printer drivers from the big corporations on one’s server or website without proper licensing or authorization is sure ticket to disaster and a prison cell. But some sites in this field have managed stay online and trouble free one way or another and have provided direct downloads to the printer driver one has been searching the web for.
Be safe, use caution
I recommend visiting the official manufacturer website for your printer first before going to any other website or community whenever you need to download the latest version of your printer driver. Summarizing what I’ve said earlier; “nothing beats the original” or in this case, nothing beats the source. It may cost some time, money and add frustrations because of their crappy customer support but you’ll minimize the chances of voiding your printer’s warranty and in case things really go wrong, you could always sue!
When going for the third-party community support or websites, read a lot about the site, members or company behind it before jumping right in and taking their advice or downloading anything from them. They may be included in the first page of the search engine results but double-checking their credibility, reliability and legality would go a long way in keeping you trouble-free and your printer or computer problems minimal.
Back up your data before doing the driver upgrade, you never know when things will go wrong during the upgrade process itself so it’s better be safe than sorry.
If you have more resources or stories relevant to this topic please share them in the comments below. Readers would greatly appreciate them and thank you for it!