Drivers are little pieces of software that allow Windows and its devices to communicate with your PC’s hardware. You have to install the correct driver for each piece of hardware you want Windows to use. If you don’t, Windows will keep giving you messages saying that the device can’t start.
Install The Motherboard Drivers When Windows Installed
That’s why it’s important to install drivers as soon as possible on your new computer. But there’s a catch: some motherboard manufacturers recommend that you only install the chipset (or motherboard) drivers when Windows is actually installed and functioning in its new home. That’s because there have been cases where some motherboard drivers caused problems during the Windows installation process or even prevented it from completing.
If you already have a non-working PC, however, and you don’t mind taking a few risks, just go ahead and install your chipset drivers first.
Most of the time you’ll probably be fine if you just follow Windows’ own driver installation process. It will automatically download and install the drivers for any device that it detects when you start up your new PC, even before you get to Windows itself. That’s why Microsoft assumes that in most cases you’ll have finished installing all of your devices before you get around to actually starting Windows.
And if that’s not the case, Windows usually doesn’t mind if you plug in new hardware during the installation process. In fact, it’ll keep installing your drivers automatically until it hits an obstacle (usually a driver that causes problems).
But that’s only true for Plug and Play devices like graphics cards, sound cards, modems, TV tuner cards, Ethernet adapters—basically any type of hardware where Windows can detect what kind of device it is and install the correct driver without having to manually specify which one to use. This works well most of the time because Windows has become incredibly good at guessing which drivers are best for each piece of hardware.
Installation Fail Due to Hardware Issue
I’ve installed hundreds of PCs over the years using this method, and I haven’t seen a single installation fail due to hardware issues.
To install those types of drivers, just let Windows get on its way with the automatic process during the setup process, and it’ll take care of everything for you. Once your PC has successfully installed all of your hardware (or at least all of the devices you wanted to use), then go back and install any special chipset drivers that your manufacturer recommends. (You can also download some “unofficial” motherboard drivers from a site like www.driverguide.com if they’re not readily available from your manufacturer.) Don’t worry about installing other drivers for now; we’ll cover them in section 8 below: “What Happens After I Install Windows.”
One warning here: On very rare occasions, some motherboard drivers might actually cause Windows setup to stop responding. The solution is simple: just restart your PC and don’t install the chipset drivers until after Windows is loading normally. Once you’re sure that everything is working properly, then go back and install those chipset drivers (and any other remaining motherboard drivers).
Finally, if you’ve got a brand-new hard drive or partition left over from another computer (a dual boot situation), it’s strongly recommended that you reinstall your old operating system before installing Windows on your new hard drive/partition. That way not only will you be able to transfer over all of your documents and settings from the old installation—in most cases it’ll also ensure that there are no possible problems with your old hard drive, since it will have been wiped clean and reformatted in the process.
You’ll also need to install any motherboard drivers (and again, only chipset drivers at this point) that were supplied on your new PC’s driver CD(s). That’s because Windows can’t detect them until after you’ve installed the operating system. And once you’ve got your data transferred over from the old installation, there won’t be anything preventing you from installing Windows while keeping all of those drivers fresh and up-to-date.