Device drivers enable your computer’s hardware to “talk to” and interact with the operating system that powers it. When upgrading or installing Windows 11, all necessary drivers are also installed. After installing the operating system, Windows Update checks the hardware for updates and handles driver installation.
However, Windows Update occasionally falls behind in the distribution of the most recent drivers for your hardware. It may overlook some devices entirely. Drivers can also fail, causing your devices – screen, printer, peripherals, or hard drives – to malfunction (via Microsoft).
If your hardware fails, you can obtain those drivers on your own (often following an OS upgrade). There are numerous options for correcting driver errors. You can use Windows Update to locate and install missing drivers, or you can do it manually for each device. You can also download the drivers from the manufacturer’s official support page. Detecting and replacing missing device drivers is frequently straightforward. All three methods are described in detail in the following guide.
How to install missing drivers via Windows Update
Microsoft recommends using Windows Update to install and update drivers. It is the safest way to sort out your drivers, according to the OS’s markers (via Microsoft). The drivers will be downloaded and installed using Windows Update. After installation, you must restart your computer. Before allowing Windows Update to load the drivers, consider saving any unfinished work.
- Open Settings and select the Windows Update tab from the list. Alternatively, look up “windows update” on the Start menu.
- Select Advanced Options.
- Scroll down to Additional options.
- Select Optional updates (next to the plus icon).
- Tap Driver updates to reveal the list of available updates.
- Check the boxes next to all listed drivers.
- Click Download and install.
Windows Update will begin downloading the drivers you have chosen. When it’s done, you’ll be notified that the installation needs to be restarted. If prompted, restart the computer. Alternatively, you can do it manually. And see if the device is now operational.
How to fix missing device drivers in Windows manually
If automatic updates do not resolve your missing device drivers, you can use Windows 11’s control panel to manually reinstall the drivers (via Microsoft).
- Click the Start button, search “device manager,” and open the app. Or, press Windows key + R and enter “devmgmt.msc” to directly pull up Device Management.
- Look for a bubble with a question mark inside it. Some or all devices in that category are missing their drivers.
- Click the caret icon next to the bubble to reveal individual devices. Devices without the installed drivers are shown with a yellow warning icon.
- Double-click a device and click the Driver tab.
- Find and click the Update Driver button.
- When the Update Drivers window pops up, select Search automatically for drivers.
If Windows 11 cannot find the required drivers online, you can try downloading them from the manufacturer’s website.
- Press the Update Driver button again.
- Select Browse my computer for drivers.
- Click browse and locate the folder you downloaded and click Next.
When nothing else works, getting support directly from the manufacturer is a fail-safe way to fix driver errors.
- Open the search engine of your choice
- Search “your machine’s brand + driver support”
- Click the manufacturer’s website link.
- Enter your product’s service tag, model, or other ID in the relevant search field.
Install the executable package by following the on-screen instructions. If you continue to encounter problems with your new Windows 11 installation, here’s a quick rundown of common Windows 11 issues and their solutions.