my personal projects both artistic and technological

Project 3 – my wife’s computer rejuvenation project (work in progress)

This is an ongoing project I have been involved in for the past few months.

It all started when my wife started a new job, after a long time working from home (our first born child was lucky enough to enjoy a whole year of having both his parents at home) And left her computer to sit quietly in the corner and brew. Naturally I decided I wanted to take advantage of the newly available computing power at my disposal. Before I could start running scripts on it I had to make sure it was up to my standards, and therefore needed to make sure everything was working properly, after all those months of neglect…

Very quickly I’ve discovered that nearly all the hardware devices were not properly. The computer was slow, the Internet connection was problematic – all a result , as it turned out, of the fact that this computer’s drivers were never updated for the past four years or so. I have decided to embark upon the (as it turned out later) epic task of updating all the drivers.

The first driver I try to update, if I recall correctly it was a DVD-ROM driver, was a total disaster. I was surprised at how long it took me to try and locate an updated driver online. At first I tried to update the driver using the Windows device manager.  That was a waste of time.  I then tried to  Look for the driver in the manufacturer’s website. That was a complete failure also. The site was messy and it seemed like nobody had a real intention of letting the users actually locate drivers. It occurred to me that the manufacturer is probably would have preferred me to purchase a new hardware rather than to use the one I already have.

I continued looking for the driver in independent websites and was surprised at the amount of spammy websites, and bullshit information that seemed to dominate Google’s search engine results page. It seemed that every website(at least in the first 30 results) that had mentioned my driver, was either an old reference to a driver that was even older than the one I had, or an affiliate website that was trying to sell a driver scanner.

Giving up on the DVD-ROM driver I tried my luck with an outdated printer driver.  At the manufacturer’s site (it was the most famous brand…) I was given no opportunity to download the required driver. The only option was to download the package of software that included about five or six software I didn’t want, in addition to the required driver. I was forced to download the whole pack that weigh more than 300 MB, install the whole lot, and then start uninstalling all the unwanted software one by one (each one required a restart of my PC). The whole process took more than 20 min.

Considering I still had a whole lot of drivers to try and update, I soon realized that installing the hold set of drivers I required manually would take a week of work, a week I couldn’t afford.

I decided to check on the driver scanners, which promised the users an automatic download of the entire set of drivers they need to replace. I looked up a couple of reviews for the top three software online. They all seem to be pretty good so I chose one at random and utilized it with success.

However, the whole experience got me thinking. The driver scanner located a whole lot more outdated drivers than I thought I had. It crossed my mind that there was a possibility of false positive results, initiated in order to get you to buy the license to download. I decided I wanted to check it out. I reverted to the old outdated driver configuration (backing up everything is one of the first lessons I learned as a programmer), and then started to test all three software individually. As it turned out each driver scanner identified a somewhat different configuration of outdated drivers. Curious.

I told of my experience to a friend of mine, who owns a computer repair shop. Together we devise a plan that would help us meticulously check each software for false positives and efficiency of update. My friend has an archive of 100,000 drivers he accumulated over the years, in both updated and outdated versions. we decided to utilize the newly acquired computing power (my wife’s old computer), in northern to perform a thorough and complete check of each driver scanner. Our script is stil running as more and more tests are made, but I have begun to automatically upload a test-sheet for each driver to this site, and I intend to update the test details at a later date.

Oh, and I added reviews of all the other aspects of each software as well.

What is the bottom line so far? Well, all the checked driver scanners are good little gadgets.  Some suit specific needs better than others, but you would be okay to use each one for whatever need exists  (my suspicion of false-positive results was by and large dismissed).

There is no clear “winner”, and I can safely recommend each of them. It all boils down to the design, as it often does in this age of competiton…


Driver Manufacturers I have been examining so far: