Over the years, a few of our customers have asked why competing products sometimes recommend driver updates that Driver Easy does not.

For example, on August 31, Ian said:

“I have used a couple of driver update programmes. Whilst scanning drivers with Driver Easy, I get a message indicating all drivers are up to date. Whilst scanning my drivers with another driver update program e, I get a message that 9 drivers are out of date. Not sure which one is accurate?”

This article explains why this happens.

All driver updaters use different algorithms

All driver updaters use different logic and algorithms to decide whether to recommend a driver update.

Broadly speaking, there are two considerations involved:

  1. Compatibility
  2. Recency

Read on to learn more about each.

Compatibility

Driver compatibility is determined by looking at the hardware IDs of the device in question.

Devices have a short hardware ID and a long hardware ID:

  • The short hardware ID identifies the model of the device (e.g. NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050Ti)
  • The long hardware ID identifies the exact device (e.g. NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050Ti for specific Dell computers only).

When a hardware manufacturer releases a driver, they specify which hardware IDs the driver is compatible with. They may specify a short hardware ID (e.g. to indicate that the driver will work with all NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050Ti cards) or a long hardware ID (e.g. to indicate that the driver was developed specifically for NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050Ti cards in certain Dell computers).

What’s the difference? When a driver is developed specifically for NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050Ti cards in certain Dell computers (let’s call this a ‘specific’ driver), it may support more functionality (e.g. your graphics card’s power saving strategy and LED lamp beautification support) and will provide the best balance between power consumption and performance. When a driver merely works with any NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050Ti in any computer (let’s call this a ‘generic’ driver), it typically supports only the most basic functions and probably won’t balance power consumption and performance very well. You may, for example, achieve significantly better performance benchmark scores using the specific driver.

Driver Easy always gives preference to ‘specific’ drivers (i.e. it uses the long hardware ID). It won’t replace an old specific driver with a new generic driver. It will only replace an old specific driver with a new specific driver. e.g. If your existing graphics driver was developed specifically for your exact hardware combination, Driver Easy won’t replace it with a generic driver, even if the generic driver is newer.

The only time we’ll recommend updating to a new generic driver is when the existing driver is a generic driver too, and there’s no more appropriate specific driver.

So in summary:

  • We’ll replace an old specific driver with a new specific driver
  • We’ll replace an old generic driver with a new specific driver
  • We’ll replace an old generic driver with a generic driver (if there’s no more appropriate specific driver)

Most driver updaters don’t work this way. They will replace an old specific driver with a new generic driver, because then it looks like they’re providing lots of driver updates. (They know customers will say, “Wow! This tool found 10 outdated drivers that Driver Easy missed.”) But the problem with this approach is that then you’re probably missing out on many of the benefits that come with using drivers that were developed specifically for your hardware. (e.g. power saving, LED lamp beautification, power-performance balance, etc.).

Long story short, Driver Easy recommends the most appropriate drivers, not necessarily just the newest, because we want you to get the best possible performance from your devices.

Recency

Part of our task is to identify which drivers are the latest. This may sound simple: You just compare the version number of the available driver to the version number of the installed driver, right? Wrong.

Simply comparing version numbers works fine if both drivers were developed by the same manufacturer. But if you’re comparing drivers from different manufacturers, they’ll use the own version numbering conventions.

So instead of comparing version numbers, we actually compare the release date of both drivers, and recommend the one that was actually released most recently. This ensures you always get the latest driver.

Unfortunately, many driver updaters don’t do this. They simply look at the version number and say 3.09 is a higher number than 2.10, so it must be a later driver. But that’s a false assumption. Version 3.09 could have been developed by Dell in 2020, whereas version 2.10 could be a brand new Acer driver.

Questions?

Please let us know in the comments below if you have any questions.

Glenn is Driver Easy’s General Manager, Communications. He plans and executes training programs, designs user experiences, conducts conversion rate experiments, sets our style and tone of voice, contributes to SEO implementation & strategy, and oversees important internal & external communications. He also manages our technical support team. Glenn lives on the Central Coast of Australia, just north of Sydney, and enjoys walking, reading, music, wine and craft beer.