Device Doctor touts the Device Doctor utility as a free and simple solution to a common problem: PCs plagued with out-of-date drivers. This application delivers on its promise of simplicity as you begin to use it, but it doesn’t deliver everything you need in order to get your PC’s devices current.

Device Doctor begins on the right foot: After you launch the app, it tells you to connect all your hardware devices and then asks you to begin the scan manually. Rivals Perfect Updater and Driver Reviver both launch into a scan automatically, with no warning, which isn’t ideal for control freaks like me. Unfortunately, though, things go downhill from there, and quickly: whereas Raxco’s Perfect Updater and ReviverSoft’s Driver Reviver both correctly identified more than 20 out-of-date drivers on my Windows 7 PC, Device Doctor found only seven.

While Device Doctor is the only one of the three apps that will actually allow you to update drivers in its free version (the other two offer free scans, but point you to their US$30 paid versions when it’s time to update), the process is clunky. Instead of handling it within the app itself, you’re bumped to Device Doctor’s Web site, where you see an ad touting the US$30 Device Doctor Pro, which promises automatic driver updates.

The driver updating process offered by the free version begins on a somewhat promising note: Device Doctor wisely suggests that you create a system restore point; this is a nice touch, but Perfect Updater does one better and creates the restore point for you. And things go downhill from there: I downloaded two drivers and installed them, but received notification that one, for a USB controller on my PC, failed to install correctly.

Device Doctor is free, but so are the scans offered by Perfect Updater and Driver Reviver. If you must have a free solution, I suggest using one of those products to identify out-of-date drivers, and then locating the necessary fixes yourself.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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