To have a stable and secure system, you need to keep your software current. This includes downloading and updating both Microsoft, and third party, software.
Microsoft provides the Windows Update, and Automatic Update, facilities. On a monthly basis (or sometimes more often), Microsoft will issue recommended updates to the Operating System, to Microsoft applications, and even to third party drivers which may be relevant to your computer.
Whether you enable Automatic Updates, or retain control and monitor recommendations by Windows Update, is not the question here. Both have their advantages. But please, whatever you do, don't routinely download third party drivers from Microsoft.
Any time that you install a new computer accessory, consider the possibility that a firmware upgrade, for your product, was applied to units in the product line after your unit was packaged at the factory. The vendors aren't going to open each box, containing a given product, to apply a firmware upgrade. You have to do this yourself. So make it a consistent practice.
This is especially a relevant practice if one of the computers in your network is running Windows Vista. Right now, Windows Vista is subject to change; the drivers developed for Vista are, likewise, subject to change. Every change in Vista (and there have been a lot of changes since it was officially RTM) may affect a driver already released. Always check for new Vista drivers.
If there is a third party driver update that's relevant to your system, get it directly from the vendor, or from the manufacturer of the chip itself - that's what Microsoft does. Sometimes, what Microsoft may have available thru Windows Update is out of date, or is simply defective. You can get anything that's available directly from the manufacturer or the vendor, whenever you need it. If you need help locating the appropriate website, use Google, or websites like Network-Drivers.com.
But, whether you get updates from the vendor of the packaged product (whoever sold the computer to you), or from the manufacturer of the individual chip itself (who built the chip that needs the driver update), be selective about what you install.
- Find the manufacturer / vendor website.
- Read the documentation about the updates that are available, and decide whether what they offer will help you, with your specific problem.
- Download what they're offering, if you decide that you need it.
- Install the update, selectively removing the crap that you don't need.
Note that you need to be selective, when installing (or not) any driver update.
- Unless you see a security warning regarding your product in question, or you see mention of a specific problem that you're experiencing, be selective in what updates you apply. Don't waste time trying to fix what isn't broken.
- Any vendor of a consumer product probably bundles "extra offers" to "increase the consumer value" of what you install. Extra software, maybe trial offers of security products, is routinely added to many driver packages. Don't waste time applying software that you don't need.
Use Windows Update to keep your computer up to date with Microsoft products, but take its driver update notices simply as reminders. Then, if appropriate, follow the reminder, and get updates from the manufacturer or vendor, selectively choosing what you're offered.