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.

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