How to Change the Path for Windows Device Drivers

June 18th, 2010

When you are using hardware devices in Windows, Windows will install a device driver for each hardware device. Many devices are supported by Windows itself, but in some cases you will need to install additional drivers. Windows can search the Internet for a device driver, or you will be prompted for a location where Windows can find the driver for the new hardware device.
But in some cases even supported devices are not recognized by Windows. That could be because the driver is missing or corrupt, but it could also be that Windows does not look in the right place for the driver. The location where Windows looks for device drivers by default is the C:\Windows\Inf since the inf files are used to match a device with a driver.
Since the installation path for Windows can vary, this path is actually configured as %SystemRoot%\Inf, where the %SystemRoot% refers to an environment variable that always point to the right installation path for Windows.
This driver location is stored in the Windows registry. The registry key that is used to store the driver path is:
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\DevicePath
Windows device path in registry

So if you are getting unexpected errors indicating device not recognized, check the device path in the Windows registry. If the %SystemRoot%\Inf value is not present in the DevicePath, then change it or add it.

The DevicePath variable can also be extended with additional locations for drivers. If for example, you have a network location where you store device drivers for all PC’s and hardware devices, you can add that to the variable. Just separate the path with a semicolon. E.g.: %SystemRoot%\Inf;\\\\Drivers

OEM manufacturer’s also use this option to include additional drivers in the default Windows setup.

Of course, always make a backup of the Windows registry before you make any changes!

Still can not find a device driver? Use DriverFinder to locate drivers for you automatically.

Entry Filed under: Device Drivers

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