Should I ‘trust’ you? I like that you now include a trust rating on your drivers, but I’m not sure at what point I should trust a driver. – Maggie Reuben
There is no simple answer, at least not a complete and simple answer.
Most people would feel comfortable downloading a driver from a manufacturer’s website (or trusted site). There is a still a chance that the manufacturer (or trusted site) could accidentally have a virus infected file on their webserver (it has happened before), but those odds are very tiny. So, at the most basic level, if you see a driver comes from a manufacturer’s site (or a “trusted site”) then you should probably feel very, very comfortable.
Slightly less safe are files uploaded by trusted users. We do trust those users, and there is good reason to. They’ve been given strict instructions about what sites/files to trust. And they have proved to us in the past that they’ve observed those instructions. But, because humans are more involved in the process, this is one notch less secure than a file coming from a trusted site. Still, you should feel very comfortable with a file coming from a trusted user.
Beyond this, it’s more difficult to say what you should trust, it really depends on the type of person you are, what your comfort zone is. Most people feel comfortable downloading from shareware/freeware sites, so long as those sites have a rating/comment mechanism where people can report problems. If you’re one of those people, then the same rules would apply to us. If you see a file has been downloaded 10,000 times and no one has commented about it having a virus or malware, then it’s extremely, extremely unlikely that it would. On the other hand, if the file has only been downloaded 10 times, perhaps you’d feel more comfortable if other people tried it first. That’s a personal choice, and we certainly can’t make that determination for you. When in doubt, err on the side of caution.
And just a reminder, every file we have is routinely virus scanned with the latest virus definitions. This will eliminate all common threats and many uncommon ones, providing you very good protection. But no anti-virus program can guarantee to protect you from every conceivable threat. You should make sure you have your own anti-virus software installed, and you should backup your computer as often as your situation warrants. Hard drives fail, computers crash, and viruses infect.
If you’re looking for a simple answer, and feel like you’re too much of a novice to make any complicated decisions/choices, then just keep in mind that the vast majority of users on the ‘net would feel comfortable downloading drivers from trusted sites and trusted users.