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Device Manager and Hardware Wizards

Published: December 27, 2004

This section provides information about:

  • The benefits of Device Manager.

  • How hardware wizards communicate with sites on the Internet.

    Device Manager provides an interface for viewing the configuration of hardware devices, and the wizards help with installing and configuring the correct driver for a device. Therefore, this section describes how the wizards communicate with the Internet, while providing background about Device Manager.

  • How to control hardware wizards to limit the flow of information to and from the Internet.

For procedures related to disabling Windows Update, see "Windows Update and Automatic Updates" in this white paper.

Important For greater control over the communication between components in Windows XP and sites on the Internet, use Windows XP Professional with Service Pack 2 instead of with Service Pack 1. Windows XP Service Pack 2 provides a number of new Group Policy settings that control communication between components in the operating system and sites on the Internet. For more information, see the Microsoft Web site at:

http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkId=23354

http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkId=29133

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On This Page

Benefits and Purposes of Device Manager
Overview: Using Device Manager in a Managed Environment
How Hardware Wizards Communicate with Sites on the Internet
Controlling Hardware Wizards to Limit the Flow of Information to and from the Internet
Procedure for Controlling Communication Between Hardware Wizards and Windows Update

Benefits and Purposes of Device Manager

Device Manager provides users and administrators with information about how the hardware on their computers is installed and configured, and how the hardware interacts with the computer’s applications. With Device Manager, administrators can update the drivers (or software) for hardware devices, modify hardware settings, and troubleshoot problems.

Note Only administrators or users with administrative credentials can install or update device drivers.

Overview: Using Device Manager in a Managed Environment

Administrators can access Device Manager through Administrative Tools\Computer Management. Users can access Device Manager through Control Panel\System\Hardware to view information about the hardware installed on their computers, but they must have administrative credentials to modify or update hardware.

Administrators or users with administrative credentials will typically use Device Manager to check the status of hardware and to update device drivers. Administrators who have a thorough understanding of computer hardware might also use Device Manager's diagnostic features to resolve device conflicts and change resource settings.

Device Manager can work in conjunction with hardware wizards and Windows Update to deliver updated drivers for installed hardware devices. As an IT administrator in a highly managed environment you might want to block certain administrators from downloading drivers through Device Manager. You can do this by configuring Group Policy to disable Windows Update. If you disable Windows Update then Device Manager cannot communicate with the Internet. The following subsection provides details about how hardware wizards interact with the Internet.

How Hardware Wizards Communicate with Sites on the Internet

Hardware wizards search for device drivers in slightly different ways, depending on the type of device for which a driver is needed:

  • An existing device for which a new device driver is available.

    To update a device driver, a person logged on to Windows XP as an administrator opens Device Manager, selects a hardware device, and clicks Update Driver on the Action menu. Alternatively, the person can open Device Manager, right-click a hardware device, and click Update Driver. This activates the Hardware Update Wizard. If Windows Update device driver searching has not been disabled, by default, the Hardware Update Wizard searches the Windows Update Web site for an updated device driver.

  • A new Plug and Play device for which the driver is not included as part of Windows XP with SP1.

    To install a new Plug and Play device, a person logged on to Windows XP as an administrator first attaches the device. In some instances, Windows XP then finds the appropriate driver locally and installs it without input from the user. In other instances, Windows XP cannot find an appropriate driver locally, and the Found New Hardware Wizard starts. If Windows Update device driver searching has not been disabled, by default, the Found New Hardware Wizard searches the Windows Update Web site for an updated device driver.

  • A device that is not Plug and Play.

    After a person logged on to Windows XP as an administrator attaches a device that is not Plug and Play, he or she can use Add Hardware in Control Panel to start the Add Hardware Wizard. This wizard does not connect to the Internet for device drivers.

Because the Hardware Update Wizard or Found New Hardware Wizard communicates with the Windows Update Web site, much of the information in this subsection is the same as for Windows Update. Additional details are as follows:

  • Specific information sent or received: See the section “Windows Update and Automatic Updates” in this white paper. None of the communication between the computer and the Internet uniquely identifies the user.

  • Default settings: By default, the hardware wizards search Windows Update for a device driver.

  • Triggers and user notification: A person logged on as an administrator starts the Hardware Update Wizard, or adds a new Plug and Play device for which Windows XP cannot find an appropriate driver locally. Windows XP with SP1 searches Windows Update for a driver update in this situation, and does not notify the person who is logged on.

    For information about user notification related to drivers downloaded through Automatic Updates, see “Windows Update and Automatic Updates.”

  • Logging: Errors that result from problems installing hardware devices without drivers are logged to the event log.

  • Encryption, access, privacy, transmission protocol, and port: See the section “Windows Update and Automatic Updates” in this white paper. To view the privacy statement for Windows Update, click the link on the Windows Update Web site at:

    http://windowsupdate.microsoft.com/

  • Ability to disable: You cannot disable Device Manager, but you can use Control Panel or Group Policy to prevent hardware wizards from searching for drivers on Windows Update. Alternatively, you can turn off all access to Windows Update.

Controlling Hardware Wizards to Limit the Flow of Information to and from the Internet

To prevent hardware wizards from searching Windows Update for device drivers, you can use Group Policy. You can also turn off all access to Windows Update by using Group Policy.

If you turn off all access to Windows Update, users will still be able to use Device Manager to view information about their hardware devices. For administrators to be able to update drivers, there is the option for manually downloading driver updates from the Windows Update Catalog, or from an intranet server, whereby they can be distributed on your managed network as needed.

For more information, see the Windows Update Web site at:

http://windowsupdate.microsoft.com/

Procedure for Controlling Communication Between Hardware Wizards and Windows Update

The procedure to eliminate Windows Update as a driver search location using Group Policy is included here.

To disable Windows Update as a driver search location

  1. As needed, see Appendix B, "Learning About Group Policy and Updating Administrative Templates," and then edit an appropriate GPO.

  2. Click User Configuration, click Administrative Templates, and then click System.

  3. In the details pane, double-click Configure driver search locations, and then click Enabled.

  4. Select Don’t search Windows Update.

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