RubyMicro Software DriverMagic Pro attempts to update your PC's drivers from one central source after analyzing your current hardware. Unfortunately, we found the product's inability to combine tasks (such as downloading and installing the drivers) frustrating. Worse, DriverMagic Pro's inconsistent ability to correctly identify installed drivers and suggest the right update is an annoyance. DriverMagic Pro is as an interesting product, but users should wait until a later version irons out some irritating problems. The DriverMagic Pro zipped executable file is a compact 6.8MB and is easy to install. Afterward, the program scans your system to create a list of installed device drivers.
Unfortunately, DriverMagic Pro's interface is frustrating and awkward. There are three layers of commands and tools: a tools menu, a row of icons across the top, and a broad list (called the Explorer Bar) to the left of the main screen, where the software displays all of your system's drivers. DriverMagic duplicates some of its tools in two of these places, while others show up in only one location.
DriverMagic's central screen collects all your current system drivers for quick study.
Furthermore, not everything appears to work. For example, there's an icon that brings up a form for submitting questions to RubyMicro Software (Ask The Xpert), but the same option on the Explorer Bar is grayed out. The help-file documentation is presented across the bottom portion of the main screen, taking up valuable real estate. Although you can resize the documentation, it still crowds out the rest of the display.
We also dislike the abrupt transitions between DriverMagic modules. Click a driver on the main screen, and you can view the devices it supports, but there's no option from there to download a newer version. To do that, you'll have to close that driver window, then select a separate tool for downloads. After the download concludes, the program doesn't offer an option to install the update; you have to do this by selecting yet another tool, and you have to tell DriverMagic Pro where the update is and where to install it. We find this whole process counterintuitive.
DriverMagic Pro's most compelling feature is its ability to efficiently provide the latest versions of drivers for download from a centralized location. The program's developer, RubyMicro Software, maintains a database of drivers on all active Windows platforms from several dozen popular manufacturers and updates its contents weekly. Once you've clicked Update My Drivers (from the menu or a button), the utility displays a list of the updated drivers that are new to its database. You can then click Search to find a specific manufacturer's drivers in the database or use the Automatic button to have the utility look for drivers relevant to your specific hardware. Right-clicking a driver brings up an option to visit the manufacturer's Web site.
DriverMagic searches for replacement drivers in its database but sometimes misses obvious choices or makes confusing alternate selections.
We found the results of Update My Drivers to be successful but sometimes confusing. DriverMagic Pro correctly sensed the presence of a single HP OfficeJet driver on one of our computers, for example, but then displayed the identical update file for download twice: in blue (indicating a perfect match for our installed hardware) and in green (indicating an inexact match). There was no further descriptive text to clarify matters. This problem was not atypical.
Despite these anomalies, we found that the utility does at least provide efficient downloads of whatever drivers you request. We tried DriverMagic Pro on two computers, one running Windows XP Professional and Windows 98 Second Edition from a dual partition, the other running Windows 2000. To test DriverMagic Pro, we installed a wide variety of hardware with more than 40 old and new drivers. In all of our tests, the software took anywhere from 15 to 30 seconds to initialize as it studied our drivers. Access speed to the developer's database for downloads depended upon connection method.
DriverMagic's integrated help system isn't actually a help system at all. Rather, it's the printed manual electronically reproduced without any hotlinks or subject indexing. It does let you search on words in the manual but brings up only one result per search. In our experience, common words such as driver repeatedly crashed the program, and much of the material in the manual is either too simplistic or in need of a good editor to correct frequent grammatical errors and omitted words.
DriverMagic's help system is an awkwardly phrased manual without hotlinks or indexing to guide you.
Luckily, the DriverMagic Web site includes an e-mail reporting mechanism to ask questions. We found that the vendor responded to our questions within 72 hours with useful answers. You'll also get unlimited free version updates if you buy DriverMagic; however, there is neither direct phone support to DriverMagic Pro's South African developer nor any online forum in which to discuss tips or problems with other users.