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Drivers Installation Order for Dell Computers

So, you decided to reinstall windows (whether it is XP, Vista, 7, 2003, or 2008) for whatever reason. When you do, you need to keep in mind that once Windows operating system is installed, you will need to download and install required drivers.

What is a driver?

A driver is software that allows your operating system in your computer to communicate with hardware in your computer and devices connected to your computer. Without drivers, the hardware (for example, a video card or a webcam) and devices connected to your computer (such as printers, cams, external drives, or etc.) will not work properly or at all.

There are many cases, drivers may come with Windows or can be found by going to Windows Updates in Control Panel and checking for updates. If Windows doesn't have the driver you need, you can find it on the disc that came with the computer, hardware, or device. It you do not have, you go to the manufacturer's website. If Windows does have the driver(s) but you should be aware that you still may need to download the correct or latest driver(s).

Things to do before installing Windows

If all possible that is if you are doing a reinstallation, go to your Windows Device Manager and make notes on what devices are installed with the associated manufacturer, model info, and versions. From this list, go to the Dell support site – www.dell.com/support then download the drivers. You will need the Dell Service Tag unique to your computer. Service tag is a series of 7 alphanumeric characters.

This article was written for Dell computers however, you could use this driver installation order as a guide. Please check with the manufacture of your computer that would generally apply.

Driver Installation Order

The following list is an overview of the correct order to install drivers on Dell desktops and laptops. After reinstalling the Microsoft Windows operating system, follow the order listed when reinstalling drivers.

NOTE: The Dell Latitude E-Series and Mobile Precision have a different install order.

  1. Desktop System Software (DSS) or Notebook System Software (NSS) - A vital utility that provides critical updates and patches for the operating system. If you are reinstalling Windows or updating all drivers, it is important that this software be installed first. This is located under the System Utilities Category on the Drivers and Downloads page.
  2. Chipset - Helps Windows control system board components and controllers, such as USB and other internal components. This is located under the Chipset Category on the Drivers and Downloads page.
  3. PCMCIA/Smartcard controller - located under the Security Category on the Drivers and Downloads page.
  4. Intel Storage - Intel Matrix Storage Manager located under Serial ATA Category on the Drivers and Downloads page (only for Intel chipset computers).
  5. Audio - Enables and enhances the audio controller. This is located under the Audio Category on the Drivers and Downloads page.
  6. Video - Enhances video performance. This is located under the Video Category on the Drivers and Downloads page.
  7. Network Interface Card (NIC) / Ethernet Controller - Enhances the network controller for Internet or network access. This is located under the Network Category on the Drivers and Downloads page.
  8. Dell Control Point (DCP) - This is only for some Latitude Laptops. It Controls power management, ambient light sensor, wireless profiles, and security features on laptops. This is located under the Control Point Category on the Drivers and Downloads page. The DCP is split into three separate programs with each one controlling different aspects. It may not be necessary to install all three parts of DCP depending on the system configuration.
    • Control Point System Manager - Controls power management and ambient light sensor settings.
    • Control Point Security Manager - Controls security features such as the trusted platform module a finger print reader.
    • Control Point Connection Manager - Controls wireless connection profiles.

NOTE: Dell Control Point is new for Latitude E-Family. Other Dell laptops use Quickset to control power management and the ambient light sensor.

  1. Dell Quickset - Controls power management and the ambient light sensor. This is located under the Applications Category on the Drivers and Downloads page (Quickset is not applicable to Latitude E-Family laptops. Use Dell Control Point instead).
  2. Wireless Network Card - Enables and enhances the wireless network controller. This is located under the Network Category on the Drivers and Downloads page.
  3. Bluetooth- located under the Network Category on the Drivers and Downloads page.
  4. Touchpad, Pointer, Track stick, Mice, and Keyboards - Enhances the pointing device features. This is located under the Input Category on the Drivers and Downloads page.
  5. Other Devices:
    • Intel vPro or AMT - Enhances system manageability. This is located under the Chipset Category on the Drivers and Downloads page.
    • Dell Wireless Mobile Broadband Cards located under the Network Category on the Drivers and Downloads page
    • Modem - Allows dial-up capability. This is located under the Communication Category on the Drivers and Downloads page.
    • Touch Screen Digitizer - Enables touch screen mouse control available on select Dell laptops. This is located under the Input Category on the Drivers and Downloads page.

The driver installation for the Latitude and Mobile Precision require different installation order and is more involved than most other computers. Click on the link below to get the Dell Latitude E-Family & Mobile Precision Reimage “How-To” Guide.