DriverMax: Straightforward driver detection and backup

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A fresh Windows installation always implies some other time consuming tasks. One of those tasks is installing drivers for all of the devices present within the system. It is truly an annoying task, even if we don’t do it very often. On the other hand, it would be nice if we always had all of our drivers up to date, but this would mean we have to perform manual verifications on a regular basis. Luckily, there are specialized applications that can automatically detect and install the latest driver versions for pretty much any device out there. From this software category, DriverMax caught our eye as it’s fairly simple to use and capable of detecting almost any driver.

Installation & Requirements

The DriverMax setup file is merely 10 KB large and the installed folder’s size doesn’t disappoint either as it only takes up approximately 14.3 MB of free hard disk space. The install process is just the expected, painless procedure besides an adware window that attempts to install the AVG Security Toolbar and setup AVG Safe Search as your browser’s homepage and default search provider. DriverMax installs as a free version and only after installing it you will be able to purchase a license and upgrade to DriverMax Pro, thus the adware window that appears during the program’s setup.

DriverMax runs on all 32 and 64-bit versions of Windows XP, Vista and 7. It also supports Windows 2003 but driver downloads are not available for this operating system.

Interface

DriverMax’s GUI may have a slightly outdated design but it is very easy to use. It is divided into 5 tabs for the following categories: Scan for driver updates, Download and install manager, Backup driver and Best Windows hardware (this option actually sends you on the DriverMax website where you can see ratings for Windows hardware performance and a list of Windows popular hardware). We will not be discussing the last option (Best Windows hardware), since it can be considered as a bonus feature with no relevance for the program’s capabilities.

To use DriverMax (including the free, non-upgraded version) you must have a registered account and the program will prompt you to create one as soon as you try to perform a driver scan on your system. The same account can be used with DriverMax on up to 20 different computers so at least you won’t have to go through the account creation process for every computer you install the program on.

The “Scan for driver updates” function displays all of the drivers present on your system along with their status which can be: outdated, up to date or missing. Missing and outdated drivers will have a download button available that directs you to a page on DriverMax website from where you can download the driver. The download does not contain the driver itself; it’s a .DMX-INFO file that DriverMax will use to download the actual driver. Sadly, free users only get 2 downloads/day and you will need to upgrade your program to DriverMax Pro if you want unlimited downloads.

The “Download and Install manager” tab shows the real-time status of the drivers selected for download and allows you to install them as soon as the download process is finished.

The “Backup driver” option displays all the drivers present on your system and the Backup button present in the lower-right corner of the window allows you to: Backup all drivers, Backup selected drivers (only the ones you manually select) or Backup selected drivers to a specified folder.

The program’s “Menu” has additional options divided into 4 categories: Driver Downloads and info (another way to access the “Scan for driver updates” or the “Download and install manager” as well as “Identify unknown hardware” and update DriverMax); Driver Backup and Restore (from where you can backup drivers, restore them from a previously saved backup, restore only specific drivers and system restore); Popular hardware (the same feature as the one found within the tabbed options only with a more detailed list of hardware); the Settings option allows you to customize your User Account, the program’s options or become a PRO user (in other words buy the commercial version of the program).

DriverMax has a well-organized interface with relevant options, suitable for all types of users. There is no confusing terminology and the essential features are easily accessible so you shouldn’t have any problems in using this program even if you’re a first-time user.

Pros

– Fast and simple install process.

– Small and stable program with low resource usage.

– Reliable driver detection and driver backup capabilities.

– One-click installation of downloaded drivers.

– Capable of detecting missing drivers.

Cons

– The free version of the program comes with many limitations and there is no full version trial for users to try.

– Driver downloads only provide the files used by the program to download the actual drivers, there are no links to official driver sources displayed within the program (or its website).

– Adware is present during the install process.

Alternatives

DriverMax has a few solid functions and it is a very simple to use tool but the limited functionality of the free version is definitely a disadvantage when competing with similar software. In terms of freeware, SlimDrivers Free will allow you to manually download an unlimited number of drivers and comes with a repair function of driver-related errors. Device Doctor is also a free program for driver updates, offering only essential related features.

Conclusion

Truth be told, the free version of DriverMax is not the ideal solution for keeping your drivers up to date, but it does offer a very simple and reliable way of knowing which drivers are outdated or missing as well as performing driver backups.