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March 30, 2020

War Stories: The Case of the Persistent Device Driver

When it comes to keeping device drivers up-to-date, life with Windows 10 is always interesting. Lately, I’ve found myself in such circumstances with one of my two Lenovo X380 Yoga laptops. Lenovo’s System Update facility (now integrated in the Lenovo Vantage app) shows I need to install an Intel driver on the Fast Ring (Build 19041) machine. But although it’s running the same driver version on both laptops, it doesn’t show up as needed on the one running Version 1909. Without the luxury of having two nearly identical machines to compare notes on, I might keep trying to install a driver that’s already there. Thanks to my other point of comparison, I am ignoring the download offer.

How to Check If a Driver Is Current

In this case, I simply compare the driver version number from Device Manager to the driver download page for the X380 Yoga at Lenovo’s website. In general you need some way to check what’s installed (Device Manager) against what’s available (the Lenovo website in this case, though I also like to grab drivers from the excellent French website Station Drivers). Here’s a visual comparison, with DevMgr on top and the Lenovo website below:


Device Manager (top) shows version So does the Lenovo download page (below). That’s how I know it’s OK.
[Click lower image to view full-sized. Upper image IS full-sized.]

Because the biggest difference between my two X380 Yogas is the Windows 10 version each one runs, I have to believe it’s something about the Fast Ring release that is involved in the problem. I’ve already reported to Feedback Hub that the fingerprint scanner driver quits working after each upgrade. Looks like I need to report this issue with the Intel Integrated Sensor Solution Driver, too.

If You Keep Getting Repeat Device Driver Offers, Don’t Panic

Sadly, having the most current device driver installed is no guarantee of workability. If you haven’t cleaned out your DriverStore recently, you can try clicking the Roll Back Driver button to see if the previous version does any better.

On the preceding DevMgr screencap, that button appears greyed-out because it has no previous version to roll back to. I’ve had this happen with various device drivers over the years, but out of all of them, network interface drivers and graphics adapter drivers seem to be the most prone to this kind of behavior.

That said, new drivers seldom blow up on relatively new PCs (3 years old or younger). I’ve only run into this kind of thing on older hardware (8-9 years old, or older). My oldest PC at the house is now 7 years old, so I’m still inside that window. But, as they say on the Internet: YMMV (your mileage may vary, or “what works for me may not work for you, or vice-versa”).

Author: Ed Tittel

Ed Tittel is a 30-plus-year computer industry veteran. He’s a Princeton and multiple University of Texas graduate who’s worked in IT since 1981 when he started his first programming job. Over the past three decades he’s also worked as a manager, technical evangelist, consultant, trainer, and an expert witness. See his professional bio for all the details.

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