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Archive for September, 2013

Configuring Windows Device Driver Installations

Configuring Windows Device Driver Installations

When you install a Windows device driver, the OS is configured by default to check a special directory for the device driver installation files. You can configure Windows to check other files for device drivers, however. The process is relatively easy, but you will need administrator rights to modify the registry.

Looking for additional device driver folders

If, for some reason, you want Windows to check for device drivers in a different location (or an additional location), you’ll need to make some changes to the Windows registry. To make changes to the registry, you’ll need administrator privileges, so one of the first steps will be to log in as the administrator of the computer you want to reconfigure.

Windows already checks any DevicePath setting that’s been defined in the registry, as well as Windows Update on the Web in its search for drivers and driver updates. To get Windows to search other locations for device drivers, fire up the registry editor by typing regedit into the Start menu.

Within the registry editor, locate the following registry key:

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE/Software/Microsoft/Windows/Current Version

In the Details pane of the registry editor, double-click DevicePath and examine the entry (or entries) that are already present. You will use the same syntax to identify additional search paths for Windows. You may include the full path name, starting with the disk label. You can also enter network locations and/or environment variables. Enter each path to be searched on a separate line and end each line with a semi-colon. Make sure that

%systemroot%\inf

remains in the search path. (This directive should already be in the registry. Don’t change this path! The system needs it to operate properly.)

Any sub-folders in the path you specify will be included in the search, even if you have not specifically named them. Including C:\ by itself in your DevicePath statement will cause Windows to search every folder on the C:\ drive! That may provide a very thorough search, but it will also be time-consuming, so don’t get carried away here! Be sure you’ve correctly entered each path name before saving your changes to the registry.

When you have finished, close the registry editor. Your changes will take effect when you restart your system. Check the operation of your computer carefully, to make sure that you have not made any typos in the registry editor! If something’s amiss, re-enter the registry editor and check your typing for errors.

As an added security, download and install Driver Detective on your computer. Driver Detective will manage all of your currently installed drivers, keep them up-to-date and keep backup copies of your drivers in the event one or more must be replaced. Driver Detective saves you the hassle of remembering to look for driver updates, and ensures that you have the correct updates for your computer hardware.

Photo Credit: deepakkt, via Flickr

Where Are Windows Device Drivers Stored?

Where Are Windows Device Drivers Stored?

Where Are Windows Device Drivers Stored?

Where does the Windows OS store device drivers? The answer depends upon which version of Windows you’re using, but knowing where the device driver software resides can be helpful when replacing broken Windows drivers, updating existing drivers or deciding what to back up.

Finding Windows Device Driver Files
If you’re running Windows Vista, Windows 7 or Windows 8, device drivers are stored in a folder called “Driver Store.” You can find Driver Store by going to C:\Windows\System32\DriverStore, assuming that you’ve got a standard installation of the Windows operating system. If not, it will be in the \Windows\System32\DriverStore folder on whatever drive letter your boot disk is named.

DriverStore contains all of the files the driver package needs for installation, so chances are good that you’ll find more than just the driver files inside this folder. One of the files that gets copied into the store is the INF file. The INF file serves as a guide for everything that is in the driver installation package. If the INF file contains information about a file that isn’t in the driver package, the driver package won’t be copied into the DriverStore and the driver installation won’t work. This is good to know if you’re attempting to troubleshoot a driver installation, or you’re trying to do some type of customized work inside the DriverStore folder.

The DriverStore isn’t really the first stop for a Windows driver package. The driver package must be both verified and validated before it is copied over to the DriverStore folder. If the package fails the verification stage, it means that the driver package is missing required files, or the manufacturer hasn’t signed the driver file. In either case, the OS won’t accept the package as a valid Windows driver and the driver installation attempt will fail. This process is part of the built-in security checks that Windows uses to find and reject malicious, fake or unsigned drivers.

Once the verification process has been completed, the validation process begins. The validation portion of the process ensures that the user has the correct permissions to install the driver and that the INF file and all required files are present and accounted for.

Once the driver package passes the verification and validation stages, the driver can be successfully installed. The installation files are retained in the DriverStore folder.

If you use an older version of Windows – like XP – the driver files will be stored in a different location, most often Windir\System32\drivers and the INF files will be stored separately, in a hidden directory called.Windir\inf. Older versions of Windows don’t use the verification and validation processes for securing drivers before they’re installed.

Regardless of which version of Windows you’re using, Driver Detective can help ensure that your driver files are always installed properly and working correctly. You never need to worry about finding driver installation files or having out-of-date drivers. Driver Detective has been downloaded more than a million times, and is available for all versions of Windows.

Photo Credit: Pantera and Mateusz, via Flickr