Customizing the Device Driver Installation Process

Applies To: Windows Server 2008

Windows searches for device drivers to match a newly attached hardware device in several locations. These locations are, by default, as follows:

  • The driver store. The driver store is a protected area to which, by default, only an administrator can write. The Plug and Play service can only install device driver packages that are in the driver store, so the first step in any device driver installation is staging the driver package in the store. The administrator can stage device driver packages in the driver store using the PnPUtil command.

  • Folders listed in the DevicePath registry key. The DevicePath key in the registry specifies the first location Windows looks for a driver package that is not already in the driver store. Multiple folder paths can be listed in the registry key. Windows Vista and Windows Server 2008 automatically search all subfolders of the folders listed in the key. Previous versions of Windows searched only in the folders listed in the key, but not in the subfolders.

  • Windows Update. The next location searched is the Windows Update Web site, or the local Windows Server Update Services (WSUS) server, when configured by an administrator. In an environment where WSUS is not used, and the administrator does not want to use Windows Update, the administrator can choose to disable this.

  • Prompting the user for media. When none of the previous locations contain a driver package that is suitable for the device, the operating systemprompts the user to supply the driver package on media, such as a CD-ROM, a network shared folder path, a floppy disk, etc.

This section includes the following tasks for configuring how Windows searches for driver packages: