I have a question concerning the order of operations done after a clean install.

Basically my question is this: Which of the following things should I install first: drivers (FYI I will be installing the latest drivers for my hardware and OS from the manufacturer's websites) or Windows updates (excluding the drivers provided via Windows Update since those are known to not work properly especially compared to the drivers provided by the manufacturers)?

I have seen this question on a few forums and some people are saying to install drivers first while others are insisting that it doesn't matter. To add to the confusion I've read installation instructions on the AMD website which state that before installing the video card drivers I should install "the latest service pack(s)". While I know service packs (in my case a service pack since I'm installing Windows 7) bring way more changes to the operating system than the regular small updates it does make it seem like installing Windows updates before installing drivers is the logical way to go about this.

closed as primarily opinion-based by Ƭᴇcʜιᴇ007, bwDraco, Ramhound, Heptite, Moses Apr 23 '14 at 21:59

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • "it seem like installing Windows updates before installing drivers is the logical way to go about this" -- Ok, so then what's the problem? – Ƭᴇcʜιᴇ007 Apr 23 '14 at 16:50
  • There isn't a "problem" per say. I just wanted to hear some opinions on this especially since the recommendations I saw around the Internet have been all over the place. – user314945 Apr 23 '14 at 16:54
  • Opinion request type questions are off-topic. "Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise." – Ƭᴇcʜιᴇ007 Apr 23 '14 at 16:59
  • Let me rephrase that: I'm looking for answers to the question which of these two I should install first and why. – user314945 Apr 23 '14 at 17:03
  • 1
    You're basically asking how to do a clean install of Windows. What @techie007 said about dependencies is to the point. That's all it is about, dependencies. Figuring out what depends on what, so that you install it in the proper order. It's a guesswork at its best. So don't tire out your eyes over opinions on the Internet. Just do it! But there are some good practices to consider. – Samir Apr 23 '14 at 18:08
up vote 2 down vote accepted

It doesn't really matter unless one depends on the other, so it's hard to say one way or the other, as it depends on your hardware, drivers and needs.


It's basically impossible to get Windows Updates if you don't have a working NIC driver installed.

Alternatively, as you point out, a driver may require a specific update or service pack to be installed to fully function.


Install what you need to get the system up and running enough to get on the Internet. Then go get/install all Windows Updates. Then install remaining missing drivers (if any), and update the ones you installed already with the latest versions.

I always install Windows Updates first. The reason for this, is because I like to make sure I have all the latest frameworks & other required dependencies installed before I try installing a hardware manufacturer's driver. Also, if windows happens to install a driver for a piece of hardware during the Windows update, the driver will be overwritten/updated to the latest manufacturer's version when I install the manufacturer's driver.

This is my justification, but other opinions may differ.

1 Drivers

After a clean install of Windows, I try to always install the most crucial device drivers first.

So that would be;

  1. Chipset related drivers and inf setup files.
  2. Graphics card drivers.
  3. Sound card drivers.
  4. Network interface drivers.

I usually do it in that order, more or less. I might change the order in which I install them depending on the system, and the availability of drivers and installation files.

2 Settings

Then I followed up with changing the most basic settings and installing utility software. I don't go all crazy customizing the system at this point.

So that would be like;

  1. Changing keyboard repeat delay to shortest possible (control keyboard).
  2. Changing keyboard repeat rate to fastest possible.
  3. Changing keyboard blink rate to fastest possible.
  4. Increase mouse pointer speed and acceleration (control mouse).
  5. Increase display resolution to maximum possible.

I might actually do these before installing any drivers. These ones are easy to do and it makes the the installation jobs much easier for me.

3 Utility software

Then I install the utility software.

These would include;

  • Anti-Virus
  • Logitech SetPoint
  • Logitech Gaming Software
  • PeaZip

I don't do these in any particular order. Here is an example of a dependency. Many drivers are packed as Zip or Rar files that you have to unpack in order to use them. I use PeaZip for this purpose.

You might want to unplug the Ethernet cable or disconnect from WiFi until you have installed your antivirus software. (I recommend having it unplugged during Windows installation even, that way Windows won't prompt you more than what is necessary to get you started.) But for this to work, you must have access to the drivers and utility software you want to install. I keep a local repository of all my downloaded, free and purchased software. This includes web browsers. I can then install them whenever I want, even when I don't have Internet access.

4 Windows Update

I then install all the latest updates from Windows Update and get prepared for a lengthy installation process with multiple reboots. During installation of Windows I always select not to configure Windows Update during setup. The first update is usually an updated version of the Windows Update client itself. I then opt in for the Microsoft Update.

I always use the option "Check for updates but let me choose whether to download and install them". This gives me more control over what is actually being installed and in what order. I have on several occasions had the problem where Windows Update got messed up due to its own doing, e.g. it tried to install an update that depends on another update to be installed first. It would then get stuck and give me update errors, and I have resolved them sometimes, and sometimes not (where I had to reinstall Windows altogether). So I don't let it install updates automatically anymore. I don't trust it to do it right.

Fortunately you can see when each update was released, how big it is, and get more information about it if you look up the KB number. I try to install available updates in the order they were released, and if that doesn't work, I install the biggest ones first because they are usually the major updates like service packs that make substantial changes to the system. When they are installed, some of the other updates that were in the list would go away, because Windows Update understands now that they have been deprecated (no longer needed) on my particular system since I installed the major update (or mini upgrade in case of Windows 8.1).

5 Programs

When I'm all settled in, I can do some system customization and install my favorite programs.