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Windows 7: What Exactly Happens when Installing Drivers from an Executable File?

05 Jun 2016   #1
byzantine

windows 7 32 bit
 
 
What Exactly Happens when Installing Drivers from an Executable File?

I plan on downloading some legacy pci modem drivers and installing them on my Windows 7 machine. I want to be able to back out everything the driver install does, though, if the new drivers don't work. Is that doable?

What I am assuming I would do is

1. Download an exe file from some reputable website onto flash drive, after deciding which one I need.

2. Plug flash drive into Windows 7 computer, double-click on the executable icon, which will copy files into some (unknown?) windows driver directories. Maybe windows\system32\drivers\ ?

Will I be shown the files that were copied, and what directories they went into? Will there be an uninstall option included with the drivers?

Also what are some safe websites (no viruses or bloatware) for downloading drivers?

Thanks


My System SpecsSystem Spec
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05 Jun 2016   #2
Alejandro85

Windows 7 Ultimate x64
 
 

The ONLY option from where to download drivers are the official manufacturer, searching for the exact model of the modem for your specific OS. Any other site other than the official is ultimately a security risk and generally should not bet trusted, specially with drivers.

About what does it exactly, it depends exactly on how the install process is done. It for sure copies a some files, possibly to system32 (or system32\drivers), or maybe to a folder in program files. Then it must register the service for the driver so it can be loaded, and then deploys its uninstaller and adds it to control panel. That would be the bare minimum, but the exact process is of course dependant on the driver.

To roll the changes back, there are a couple of problems. The best way is to use its uninstaller and let it revert every change it did. System restore is also a nice option if a restore point is available. A more extreme solution would be to restore a full-system image.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
09 Jun 2016   #3
byzantine

windows 7 32 bit
 
 

The only brand name on the modem is Conexant, which is on the chip, so could it be some other brand, which happens to be using a Conexant chip? There are plenty of numbers all over it, such as a serial number, but no brand name (unless the whole thing is Conexant). The Device Manager is telling me the hardware id is "Moto1_gen". Does that mean Motorola? I went to the Conexant website and there is nowhere to download any drivers, at least not for modems. So I might be stuck going to other websites to get drivers, like driverguide dot com and hope for the best!
My System SpecsSystem Spec
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09 Jun 2016   #4
ComputerGeek

Desk 1: Win 7 Pro x32; Desk 2: Windows 10 x64
 
 

1. You can create a system restore point but as already mentioned the only 100% certain method is creating a disk image before you start installing drivers (so you can recover the image if needed). You can find a guide in the Tutorial section on using Macrium Reflect free to do so

2. Best method to identify the device is by hardware ID. If no driver currently installed i'd expect it should show up in a Problem Device report
  • Click the Start Orb, type msinfo32 in the search box. Hit Enter
  • Click the + sign next to Components to expand it
  • Click Problem Devices. Anything appear?
  • If yes, click on it, Ctrl-A to select all, Ctrl-C to copy it, Ctrl-V to paste into next post
  • On the other hand, if no devices are listed, tell me so
3. Fyi.. a bit about "drivers" and more specific terminology. Technically, the word "driver" is a generalized term used to refer either one of two things called:
  • Driver Package - this is the set of files that actually implement the hardware interface. Every driver package includes an .inf file. The .inf file contains the specific instructions that tell Windows how to install the package (e.g. what files get copied to which directories, add/delete/modify changes to the registry, defining services and device names, etc)
  • Device installation app - The installation app is the exe.
    • It always contains the driver package. It can also include application level software that augment the h/w driver. (an example is Catalyst Control Center which gets installed by an exe along with the driver package)
    • exe's can also be used to simply provide a nice user interface that prompts the user before the driver package is installed
    • exe's don't always create uninstall files. The uninstall file is only required when application software is included in the exe

So exe files can be used install all kinds of varying stuff. It's up to the vendor who creates it. Hope that helps!
My System SpecsSystem Spec
12 Jun 2016   #5
byzantine

windows 7 32 bit
 
 

ComputerGeek,

Thanks for the tip about msinfo32. Yes, I found a problem device by using your suggestions. It is a disabled ethernet adapter (sis 900-based PCI fast ethernet adapter), which the previous owner disabled on purpose since I was planning on using a dial up modem. No mention of any modem problems in the report, just the ethernet adapter. Some other interesting stuff I found while in System Information: It says the modem is an external modem, but the modem I inserted is an internal PCI modem. It has a driver set up for it. No hardware id mentioned. Provider Name is Microsoft. Attached to COM1. I added the info about modems and ports because I think possibly there is some leftover connection from previous pc owner between ports and com1 that is not allowing the new internal modem to be recognized properly.

Problem devices : SiS 900-Based PCI Fast Ethernet Adapter PCI\VEN_1039&DEV_0900&SUBSYS_80A71043&REV_91\3&18D45AA6&0&20 This device is disabled.


Modem info : (I have a redundant second modem entry here also)


Name Standard 56000 bps Modem Description Standard 56000 bps Modem Device ID ROOT\MODEM\0001 Device Type External Modem Attached To COM1 Answer Mode Not Available PNP Device ID ROOT\MODEM\0001 Provider Name Microsoft Modem INF Path mdmgen.inf Modem INF Section Gen556F Blind Off X4 Blind On X3 Compression Off %C Compression On %C3 Error Control Forced \N2 Error Control Off \N Error Control On \N3 Flow Control Hard &K3 Flow Control Off &K Flow Control Soft &K4 DCB &#x001c; Default < Inactivity Timeout 0 Modulation Bell B1 Modulation CCITT B Prefix AT Pulse P Reset AT&F Responses Key Name Standard 56000 bps Modem:Standard Modem Types)::Microsoft Speaker Mode Dial M1 Speaker Mode Off M0 Speaker Mode On M2 Speaker Mode Setup M3 Speaker Volume High L3 Speaker Volume Low L0 Speaker Volume Med L2 String Format Not Available Terminator Tone T Driver c:\windows\system32\drivers\modem.sys (6.1.7600.16385, 31.00 KB (31,744 bytes), 7/13/2009 7:55 PM) Name Standard 56000 bps Modem Description Standard 56000 bps Modem Device ID ROOT\MODEM\0002 Device Type External Modem Attached To COM1 Answer Mode Not Available PNP Device ID ROOT\MODEM\0002 Provider Name Microsoft Modem INF Path mdmgen.inf Modem INF Section Gen556F Blind Off X4 Blind On X3 Compression Off %C Compression On %C3 Error Control Forced \N2 Error Control Off \N Error Control On \N3 Flow Control Hard &K3 Flow Control Off &K Flow Control Soft &K4 DCB &#x001c; Default < Inactivity Timeout 0 Modulation Bell B1 Modulation CCITT B Prefix AT Pulse P Reset AT&F Responses Key Name Standard 56000 bps Modem:Standard Modem Types)::Microsoft Speaker Mode Dial M1 Speaker Mode Off M0 Speaker Mode On M2 Speaker Mode Setup M3 Speaker Volume High L3 Speaker Volume Low L0 Speaker Volume Med L2 String Format Not Available Terminator Tone T Driver c:\windows\system32\drivers\modem.sys (6.1.7600.16385, 31.00 KB (31,744 bytes), 7/13/2009 7:55 PM)



ports:

Name Communications Port (COM1) Status OK PNP Device ID ACPI\PNP0501\1 Maximum Input Buffer Size 0 Maximum Output Buffer Size No Settable Baud Rate Yes Settable Data Bits Yes Settable Flow Control Yes Settable Parity Yes Settable Parity Check Yes Settable Stop Bits Yes Settable RLSD Yes Supports RLSD Yes Supports 16 Bit Mode No Supports Special Characters No Baud Rate 9600 Bits/Byte 8 Stop Bits 1 Parity None Busy No Abort Read/Write on Error No Binary Mode Enabled Yes Continue XMit on XOff No CTS Outflow Control No Discard NULL Bytes No DSR Outflow Control 0 DSR Sensitivity 0 DTR Flow Control Type Enable EOF Character 0 Error Replace Character 0 Error Replacement Enabled No Event Character 0 Parity Check Enabled No RTS Flow Control Type Enable XOff Character 19 XOffXMit Threshold 512 XOn Character 17 XOnXMit Threshold 2048 XOnXOff InFlow Control 0 XOnXOff OutFlow Control 0 I/O Port 0x000003F8-0x000003FF IRQ Channel IRQ 4 Driver c:\windows\system32\drivers\serial.sys (6.1.7600.16385, 81.50 KB (83,456 bytes), 7/13/2009 7:45 PM)
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 What Exactly Happens when Installing Drivers from an Executable File?




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