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Configure Windows to Search Additional Folders for Device Drivers

Applies To: Windows 7, Windows Server 2008 R2

When a new device is detected, Windows checks the driver store to see if an appropriate driver package is staged there. If not, it checks several locations to find a driver package to place in the driver store. In order, these locations are:

  1. The folders specified in the DevicePath registry setting, as described in this topic.

  2. Windows Update on the Web. For more information see Configure Windows to Search Windows Update for Device Drivers.

  3. A file path or media provided by the user.

After Windows locates the driver package, it is copied to the driver store, and then installed from there.

This topic provides a procedure that you can use to modify the list of folders searched by Device Manager for a driver package.

Membership in the local Administrators group, or equivalent, is the minimum required to complete this procedure.

To configure Windows to Search Additional Folders for Device Drivers
  1. Start Registry Editor. Click Start, and in the Start Search box type regedit.

  2. If the User Account Control dialog box appears, confirm that the action it displays is what you want, and then click Yes.

  3. Navigate to the following registry key:

    HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE/Software/Microsoft/Windows/Current Version

  4. In the details pane, double-click DevicePath.

  5. Add additional folder paths to the setting, separating each folder path with a semi-colon. Ensure that %systemroot%\inf is one of the folders included in the value.

CautionCaution
Do not remove %systemroot%\inf from the DevicePath registry entry. Removal of that folder can break device driver installation.

Additional considerations
  • You can include paths using:

    • Drive letters and folders, such as c:\foldername

    • Environment variables, such as %systemdrive%\foldername

    • Network paths, such as \\server\share

    The list you specify must be on one line, with each folder separated by a semi-colon.

  • If the folders listed in the DevicePath registry entry contain other subfolders, the subfolders will also be included in the search. For example, including c:\ as one of the paths will cause Windows to search the entire drive.

  • Inclusion of a driver package in a folder referenced by the DevicePath registry entry does not remove any prompts created by the signature on the package. If the package is not signed, or signed by an unknown or untrusted publisher, then the user is still presented with dialog boxes to accept the publisher. Inclusion of the certificate used to sign the driver in the Trusted Publishers certificate store removes this additional prompt. For more information, see the documentation about signing device drivers on the Microsoft Web site (http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?linkid=62923).

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