According to Dell's upgrade page for Vista to Windows 7, after using the upgrade assistant the final step is to install drivers. They refer to this page for the order of driver installation, listing 9 items. From there I go to the Dell Drivers and Downloads page, enter my system tag, and get a list of the downloads available for my specific box. That page, by the way, has a link to driver install instructions that lists 10 rather than 9 items. Going to Drivers Help in the side panel and clicking on "In what order should drivers be installed?" shows yet a third list, this one containing 13 items. Not surprisingly, the order of these 3 lists of drivers are not quite the same for the common items! Furthermore, of the 26 files Dell's site recommends for my machine, there are several not shown on any of the 3 lists! I can make determinations for some of these:

  • 6 of them are "applications" so I know which of those I want and that they could probably be safely installed after all drivers.
  • BIOS: I would think this should be unaffected by an OS upgrade so could be skipped.
  • Two tools in the diagnostics category: could probably be done after all drivers.

That leaves just a CD/DVD driver and a webcam driver unaccounted for.

So my two related questions are these:

  1. How critical is the driver installation order and which one do I follow? (Keep in mind this is for an upgrade, not a fresh install.) Where in the order do I insert the CD/DVD and the webcam drivers (if needed) ?

  2. Dell's driver download page provides (in theory) the list of all downloads relevant to my specific machine, via the service tag. But do I actually need to reinstall all of them? some? none? How does one determine this? They do label each with Recommended or Optional, so do I need to reinstall all the recommended ones? (Part of the reason for my perplexed frown is that I wonder why I would need to reinstall a CD/DVD driver since I would already be using the drive to install the OS!)

2010.07.09 Update

Caliban provided some great tips for question 1 on 2010.06.17. I am still hoping to get some comments on question 2!


Usually, techs install drivers in the order of:

  1. Chipset
  2. Graphics
  3. Audio
  4. Wireless Network
  5. Wired Network
  6. Manufacturer Drivers Software Libraries (if any)
  7. Manufacturer Drives Software (such as function keys, etc)

Alternatively, Windows 7 has extremely robust support for drivers through their Windows Update system, and in-built drivers. You may just want to install Win 7, hook up to a network, and hit that Update button. It has worked more often than not for some of the terminals I came across.

Also, hardcore techs believe in one thing - the lesser the faster. I really recommend you to just install only the drivers you think are necessary. A lot of listed downloads for your Dell machine are crapware. Go for the essentials (which might just be a subset of Recommended), and see how it works out.

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