Plug and Play (PnP) driver packages can be preloaded on a computer as part of a Windows installation or after Windows is installed on a computer. A network administrator can also preload driver packages on a network server that provides the source for driver packages that are installed on network computers. When Windows searches for drivers that match a device, Windows will check whether there are preloaded driver packages that match the device.
How to configure a Windows installation to preload driver packages is outside the scope of this documentation. For information about how to configure a Windows installation to preload driver packages, see How to Add OEM Plug and Play Drivers to Windows XP and How to Add OEM Plug and Play Drivers to Windows Installations.
After Windows is installed, a driver package can be preloaded in one of the following ways:
To preload a driver package on a local computer, copy the driver package to a package-specific directory on a local computer and concatenate the local directory path of the driver package to the DevicePath value entry under the HKLM\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion subkey of the registry.
To preload a driver package for a computer network, a network administrator can copy the driver package to a shared directory on a network server and concatenate the path of the shared directory to the DevicePath value entry in the registry of the network computers that have access to the shared directory.
The DevicePath value entry is a REG_EXPAND_SZ-typed entry that contains the %SystemRoot%\inf directory path and zero or more directory path entries. The format of the DevicePath value entry is the following, where each directory path is either a local directory path or a path of a shared directory on a network server where the preloaded driver packages are located:
For example, to preload a driver package for a network adapter in the %SystemRoot%\Drivers\NIC directory on a local computer, an administrator copies the driver package to that directory and concatenates the path of the DevicePath value entry, as follows:
For example, to preload a driver package for a network adapter in the shared directory \\DriverPackageServer\ShareName\Drivers\NIC on a network, a network administrator copies the driver package to the shared directory and concatenates the shared directory path of the DevicePath value entry in the registry of the network computers, as follows: