In this age of plug-and-play computing where you simply need to attach a device for Windows or Mac OS to identify it, such a program as Driver Genius seems a little redundant.

However, when you consider that just like the main operating system itself, manufacturers are constantly releasing updates to make their products run smoother and interact better, having a tool that gathers all that information together can save time and improve performance.

Driver Genius has a reported database of 30,000 different drivers that are constantly checked and updated. You can set Driver Genius to check your machine whenever you boot-up or as part of your scheduled maintenance routine.

After you install the software you’ll be presented with a screen telling you your drivers database has not been updated in the last 30 days. Naturally, this is the case as you’ve only just installed the software. However, it doesn’t prompt you to run any specific task.

The interface consists of eight dialogue boxes on the left-hand side and actions in a main large box. The top four Backup, Restore, Update, Uninstall are the main tasks but these are supported by LiveUpdate and support tools.

The first real task is backing up the current driver set. This is a logical step, as if anything goes wrong it can quickly be resolved. You can back up your drivers either to a separate drive or to an external disc, we opted for an external USB stick.

The only problem we found with the software was that by default it isn’t setup to create an auto-installing file. It can be setup up to do so but this isn’t by default. Instead, it creates separate driver folders and simply dumps them on your end location. Our test machine created 400MB of driver information, so it’s worth saving to an external disc.

Once backed up, you can check for updates. This proved quick and easy, with our test machine being identified as a Windows XP machine and that seven areas, including the Nvidia graphics card and Intel wireless, had updates available for it.

Download times can vary, depending on the number of updates and the size of the files. In our case, it took 30 minutes to get the relevant updates. Downloaded drivers are set as zip files and you’ll need to install them manually, which is something we weren’t expecting and once again detracts from the overall professional aspect of the software, as first-time users may be a little wary to mess about with their settings.

Getting the most from the software can be time consuming and we didn’t see any great improvement in system performance. However, at £20 (inc. VAT) to keep on top of your drivers, it’s a good price.

Price when reviewed:

Driver Genius Professional 2007 edition is a simple to use program that needs to be a little slicker in execution in order to prove essential to inexperienced users.

As it is, it’s a great piece of software for those who know what benefit it will add to their system but you will need to confident in tweaking your OS and drivers before you’ll see any real benefit.