Drivers. To either adore or despise them. They keep our hardware running smoothly so that our machines can keep cranking away day after day.
That is, until a newer version is released, at which point the age-old dilemma of whether to risk the possibility of a better experience or to play it safe by sticking with the tried-and-true one arises.
In this article, we’ll examine Driverscape, a large, free database maintained by a third party, to let you know if it’s safe to use.
What Is Driverscape?
Driverscape is an independently curated database of drivers for various computer components, including but not limited to video cards, motherboards, and USB-connected devices like keyboards, mice, and printers.
Driverscape claims to be a one-stop-shop for device drivers because its staff has painstakingly compiled drivers from official manufacturer websites and organized them by device category and manufacturer name.
Driverscape asserts that the drivers are authentic because they have all been verified by hand and have received the Windows Hardware Quality Labs (WHQL) certification (Microsoft’s independent seal of approval). The website also provides an extensive archive of drivers for older hardware that is no longer manufactured or supported by the original manufacturer.
Driverscape also suggests a Driver Update Utility, which can scan your computer for outdated or missing drivers and then suggest downloading and installing replacements and is compatible with Windows XP, Vista, 7, 8, and 10.
How Does Driverscape Work?
Driverscape can be used in two different ways. You can quickly find the required driver by searching by manufacturer or device category.
Their Driver Update Utility is an executable program that can scan your PC and update the drivers for all devices currently installed or connected to it, useful if you don’t know which driver you need but only that it needs updating.
Non-Malware-Related Driverscape Issues
Although, there is another, less dramatic, way to consider PC security. There’s always the chance that updating, removing, or installing a driver will cause some other issue (or even multiple issues in extreme cases). Regular updates to Windows’ essential system drivers are tested thoroughly for reliability and compatibility by highly compensated software engineers before being released to users.
Who verifies the safety of the files you access via Driverscape’s downloads? And that’s a lot murkier. Despite the fact that we have no reason to doubt their claim that all of the drivers on their site originate directly from device manufacturers, it is important to remember that the introduction of a middleman increases the likelihood of errors and omissions.
Is There A Need To Use Driverscape?
The real issue isn’t whether or not you can trust Driverscape; it’s whether or not you actually need to use driver update programs or download individual drivers from Driverscape’s archive.
The quick response is “no.”
Windows does an excellent job of ensuring that only drivers that have been thoroughly tested and have Microsoft’s approval are used on all essential hardware. For the vast majority of hardware, manual driver updates aren’t necessary.
If a driver absolutely must be updated and Windows fails to do so, the first place to look is the support page of the device manufacturer’s website, where you will find the most recent driver. Doing so will ensure that the file you download is legitimate and free of any viruses, malware, or rootkits.
This method is especially important for Nvidia and AMD graphics cards because both manufacturers make it easy to obtain the most recent drivers by means of proprietary software (GeForce Experience and AMD Radeon Software, for example) and their official websites (including legacy drivers for older graphics cards).
Is Driverscape Safe?
With regards to security, we do not recommend using the Driverscape Driver Update Utility. You are asking for trouble if you install any third-party software that scans your computer and offers to download drivers. It’s an easy way for malicious actors on the web to infiltrate your computer and install spyware and other malicious software.
The utility also checks for outdated drivers without caring about your computer’s age or stability. Potentially unstable and unanticipated outcomes could result from downloading proposed replacements. Even if the device is a few years old, it almost certainly already has the most up-to-date driver installed. Usually, the maker has abandoned it and stopped releasing patches.
To give credit where credit is due, Driverscape’s Driver Update Utility doesn’t ask for payment after a quick scan is completed. In the grand scheme of things, this is simply not enough to lend credence to the claim.
Microsoft fixes serious security issues and holes in Windows with frequent updates. Except for graphics cards, which should have their drivers regularly updated to the most recent versions recommended by the manufacturer (you’ll be prompted to download these by the proprietary programs from Nvidia and the like anyway), the rule of “if it isn’t broken, don’t fix it” should always be applied.
If your Wi-Fi adapter is functioning normally, there is no point in spending hours searching the internet for the most up-to-date driver for it.
Using Driverscape As A Last Resort
Despite the warnings above, there are times when you need to use a third-party site, such as Driverscape, to find software for a piece of hardware that is no longer listed on the manufacturer’s official website.
Driverscape is a godsend if you need to find the last remaining driver for a sound card from the early 2000s. It’s likely one of only a few online resources to offer the driver, and it’s certainly one of the more easily accessible ones.
To put it mildly, we advise proceeding with caution:
- If you’re downloading multiple files, make sure to do so separately.
- Don’t ever use a tool that is exclusive to this site.
- Before using any drivers you download, be sure to scan them with a reliable malware removal program and a powerful, up-to-date anti-virus. If you see anything suspicious while browing, you should pull over.
Forums online are littered with accounts of fake drivers and trojans being planted in files downloaded from Driverscape. However, the vast majority of these comments are several years old, and it appears that Driverscape has since improved.
Can You Do Without DriverScape?
DriverScape is a third-party website that, as was previously mentioned, promises to make it easier to update your drivers.
Is DriverScape really necessary in your case?
As a user, how will you benefit from it?
DriverScape isn’t necessary because most driver manufacturers release updates for their products on a regular basis.
The vast majority of drivers are updated automatically and undetectably.
Therefore, there is no requirement for any sort of manual intervention on your part.
Any drivers that aren’t updated through Windows Updates can be updated through the manufacturer’s support page.
By doing so, you can verify that the driver you are installing is legitimate and free of any harmful software.
If you’re using DriverScape out of concern for your computer’s safety, you can rest assured.
With each new update, Windows fixes these problems.
When it comes to hardware, upgrades aren’t necessary unless something breaks.
If your Wi-Fi has slowed down, for instance, you can try updating the firmware by visiting the maker’s website.
However, updating the drivers cannot be a miracle cure for a sluggish computer.
Similarly, upgrading to a newer version of a driver might not immediately result in a noticeable speed boost.
The only changes are minor optimizations and bug fixes.
Even if something was functioning normally in the prior version, you risk damaging it.
You shouldn’t waste time and energy trying to fix something that isn’t broken.
If you want to get the most out of your system, you should always update the drivers for your video card.
Only when you get a new computer or reinstall Windows will you need to update your drivers.
Can DriverScape Harm Your Computer?
DriverScape, like any other third-party website, poses a risk of infection with malicious software and viruses.
It’s impossible to know for sure if a file you download from the internet is virus-free, especially if you’re using a file-sharing website.
Users who have used this site to obtain or upgrade their drivers have had a variety of experiences, and their opinions are all over the map.
Others have reported having their computers infected, while still others are extremely satisfied.
Users who downloaded the DriverScape file report that they were infected with fake drivers and trojans.
The reviews may be outdated, and DriverScape may have already addressed the concerns raised in more recent comments.
The Driver Update Utility, which runs a scan of your system to identify outdated drivers, is the most significant security risk.
Since it’s not your own server, there’s no telling what kind of malicious software or spyware the site might contain.
What’s more, the utility doesn’t care how old or reliable your hardware is when it performs a scan to identify outdated drivers on your PC.
There is no telling what will happen to your hardware if you install the suggested updates.
While DriverScape may not charge you to scan your computer like some other driver update websites do, that doesn’t make it any more trustworthy.
One more suspicious aspect of DriverScape is that its creator remains anonymous.
There could be valid reasons for the owner to conceal their identity.
However, that gives the owner a bad reputation among online users, who may start to suspect a scam.
There are both raving praise and scathing criticisms of the site posted online.
This may be a red flag that the business owner is buying positive reviews to drown out the negative ones.
The lack of an SSL certificate, which ensures a safe connection between computers and websites, is also a security risk.
The lack of this indicates unsafe communication, which is a bad sign.
Since the site doesn’t require registration or any personal information, this may not be too much of a concern.
Positive Points About DriverScape
There are several indicators that suggest DriverScape is a genuine website that you may be able to trust.
The website, for instance, has been around for quite some time and appears to be quite dated.
That may be encouraging because experience often breeds trustworthiness online.
Since scammers could potentially buy expired domains and use them for their own malicious purposes, this alone cannot be the deciding factor.
The malicious actions it has been rated for vary across analytical sources.
For instance, Virustotal gives it a rating of 100/100 for safety.
Joe Sandbox, on the other hand, labels it malicious due to the high number of security flaws it discovers.
Similarly, Norton Life warns users to “exercise caution,” indicating the presence of potential dangers and irritants.
No matter how trustworthy a website may seem, downloading files or fake drivers from it can still infect your computer with malware.
One encouraging indicator is a high Alexa ranking.
The high traffic counts and external links attest to its popularity and usefulness.
Aside from the risks of malware and hacking, there are other issues with using DriverScape that you should be aware of.
It is always possible that other aspects of your system will become unstable if you install, uninstall, or update a driver.
Every time a new version of a Microsoft driver is released, the company double-checks that it is fully compatible with all previously released drivers and hardware.
We have no idea if DriverScape has a similar problem.
They say that they manually compile drivers from manufacturers.
Nothing suggests otherwise, but no one can promise that mistakes won’t be made.
These omissions can open the door for malicious online forces to enter the picture.
DriverScape Unwanted Application
Downloadable software for use with DriverScape is also on hand.
Your computer’s display may not always be accurate.
Most of the time, you didn’t put it there, so you have no idea how it got there.
DriverScape may be a “potentially unwanted application” if it was installed on your computer through questionable means, such as the “bundling” tactics used in online advertising.
It’s not uncommon for additional programs to be downloaded and installed automatically when you install certain applications.
That’s because the creator of the second app pays the creator of the first app to preload the second app on users’ computers.
In some cases, web pages will use tiny buttons that you have no idea what they do in order to advertise software.
If you accidentally press them, the unwanted software will begin downloading.
Because of how DriverScape is installed on PCs, we have serious doubts about its legitimacy.
Copies of the program advertised in free download bundles may be malicious even if the original is safe to use.
In addition to installing themselves, they may also install additional programs or perform other malicious actions.
It appears to provide helpful features, such as driver installation and system optimization, but they are, at best, ineffective.
After downloading and installing the software, you might be subjected to a variety of advertisements.
They appear as pop-ups, push notifications, or banners and slow down your computer.
Ads aren’t always malicious, but they can direct you to malicious websites that are themselves scams or host malicious content like phishing pages.
How To Avoid Unwanted Applications?
The most effective method of protecting your computer from these dangers is to stop these applications from being installed in the first place.
Do your homework on the apps before you buy, download, and set them up on your device.
Get your software only from trusted download sites.
Always use caution when installing software onto your computer from an unknown source, and stay away from P2P networks and other unofficial download sources.
Be sure to look into all of your options, read the fine print, and avoid downloading any unnecessary extras.
If you end up on a malicious website after clicking on an ad or a suspicious redirect, make sure you check all the add-ons or programs you have installed and get rid of anything suspicious.
Malware can be automatically cleaned with a reliable malware removal tool.
How To Uninstall DriverScape From Your Computer
Remove DriverScape from your computer if you installed it inadvertently or otherwise do not want it there.
Click “Control Panel” to remove it.
Use “Programs and Features” and then “Uninstall a Program” to remove software.
Locate DriverScape and then select “Uninstall” from the context menu.
You should repeat this process for any other software that you don’t remember installing.
Run a full scan with your malware removal tool to ensure there are no lingering infections or other threats on your system.
Once you’ve uninstalled DriverScape, go through your computer and delete all of its associated registry entries.
To open Registry Editor, use the search bar at the bottom left of your screen.
Type HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINESoftwareMicrosoftWindowsCurrentVersionRun into the search bar of the Windows registry editor.
Simply right-click the value and select “Remove” to get rid of it.
Removing DriverScape Unwanted Browser Extensions
It’s possible that DriverScape will load your browser with adware, potentially unwanted add-ons, or even a full-on hijacker.
Their telltale symptoms are interruptions to your online experience in the form of pop-up ads and page reroutes.
How you go about disabling these extensions may vary from browser to browser.
After making sure Safari is ready, select it from the menu at the top left of the screen next to the Apple logo.
Pick the “Preferences” menu option.
When you click on it, a window with several choices will pop up.
Go to the menu and select “Extensions.”
Check for and get rid of any suspicious add-ons.
2. Internet Explorer
To access Internet Explorer’s settings, launch the browser and select the cogwheel in the top right corner.
Find “Manage Add-ons,” click it, and then search through the list for any unfamiliar or suspicious browser add-ons.
If you do, just pick it out and hit the delete button.
3. Google Chrome
If you use Chrome, you can access additional features by clicking the menu button (three vertical dots) in the browser’s upper right corner. Look under “Extensions” for any unfamiliar add-ons.
There’s a puzzle-piece shaped icon to the right of the search bar.
It’s a quick access point for all of Chrome’s add-ons.
Browse the available add-ons and eliminate any that you don’t want.
4. Microsoft Edge
You can access “Extensions” by clicking the three vertical dots in the upper right corner of the screen.
To use it, simply click it, and then look for any suspicious add-ons that were installed recently.
In Firefox, click the menu button (it looks like three horizontal lines) in the upper right corner of the window to access “Add-ons.”
Select “Extensions” to disable any unused add-ons.
Actually, the more pertinent query is not “Is Driverscape safe?” But the real question is, “Do we really need Driverscape?” No, not really, in our opinion. Downloading the necessary drivers straight from the manufacturer’s website is the safest option. Driverscape may save you a few minutes at most, and it may be difficult to find what you’re looking for there sometimes.
It would make sense to use Driverscape’s Driver Update Utility if you were absolutely certain that you had dozens of out-of-date drivers and didn’t care too much if your PC got borked. That, however, is an extremely specific scenario. For the most part, you should grit your teeth and do some digging on the manufacturer’s website, even if it is slightly unpleasant.