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Windows 7: Force W7 update all drivers

25 Aug 2011   #1
noumen arete

Windows 7 x86 Home Basic*
Force W7 update all drivers

Hello, I posted this here because the "drivers" section seems to be used primarly for requesting drivers.

I actually don't have a problem with drivers, but in how windows detects hardware and finds appropiate drivers. Because sometimes I have many computers at a time to fix, I wondered if there was a way in which windows 7 can be forced to update every installed driver in the system at once, this because when windows 7 is installed, it installs outdated (but working) drivers for some devices. Generally, I don't install drivers by double clicking them, but rather by extracting them (exe's) and then making windows find them, I do this because doing so, prevents most of the time, the installation of unwanted applications.

Now, I know I can update each driver individually using the device manager, but this could take very long depending on the machine. I would like windows (on a clean installation), to uninstall ALL of the drivers, including chipset, video, audio, etc, and then look for them in a specific folder, say C:\new_drivers\ (where all new extracted drivers are).

Is this possible? I believe this might be very helpful for many.
Thank you in advance

My System SpecsSystem Spec
25 Aug 2011   #2

Windows 10 Pro x64

Note that what you ask (remove all drivers from an image, including the setup image, and then install new drivers) is something Windows 7 does automatically already unless you are deploying an image with the PersistAllDeviceInstalls in the unattend.xml. However, what I think you're asking is if you can provide drivers to Windows, while a machine is being installed, that Windows will then (hopefully) use instead of ones shipped on the DVD. The answer is yes you can, but it's not without a bit of work on your part. You have two "good" options and one "less than supported, but might work" option, listed below:

One, you can stage drivers beforehand onto the system so that Windows searches them (and hopefully installs them, if they're appropriate) as part of the normal PnP driver detection process during Windows setup. Unless you're using a tool that knows how to do this when creating images of Windows that you can use to install onto client machines (like MDT 2010 or SCCM 2007), however, this isn't necessarily something you'd want to do manually unless you are not one that is faint of heart. Note that driver injection is the "proper" way to do it as per Microsoft, as these drivers persist for the lifetime of the machine in the device store (just like Windows inbox drivers that ship on the DVD), rather than just being available during setup.

Two, you can also use DriverPaths as part of your sysprep/unattend.xml process, which is the equivalent of the old OemPnPDriverPaths option in XP's unattend. However, these drivers are not all staged and added to the Windows driver staging area, they are only available during setup. What this means, in an example nutshell, is that if a user were to add to the system one of the devices you have included drivers for (in DriverPaths during setup) at a later time after setup has completed, the user would then need the driver files to install the device. If the drivers were staged during setup, however, the driver would have been included with your Windows installation, and the device would install without any further user interaction. You would also have to use the DevicePath registry value (and set up a driver folder on the system containing the drivers you want to include) to "emulate" the staging functionality. This is not exactly what it was intended for, but it's close, and it does work. It's just much more work for you, the one building the images and/or the machines to be installed.

There, there are non-Microsoft tools, like DriverMagician, that can get the installed drivers from a running machine and place them in a folder for you to accomplish either one or two above - or if you wish to pay for a non-free version, create an .exe that will install those drivers for you like any other application. I don't generally recommend installing drivers from compiled .exe files this way in any medium or large-scale way, and I've learned that from experience (note Microsoft recommends #1 and still allows #2, but doesn't have any tools that do this #3 .exe installation for good reason). However, it is an option, so I figure I'll throw it out there.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
25 Aug 2011   #3
noumen arete

Windows 7 x86 Home Basic*

Thank you cluberti for your answer and the detailed info, however sysprep and system images would not work in this situation. When I fix a computer, I do not clean install windows 7, instead I restore a previously sysprepped windows 7 image, which is already configured and contains the software that is most likely to be used. Once restored, the computer is in working condition, but drivers and software licences need to be installed. So, even if windows finds basic drivers for all devices, as part of the service I provide, I update all of them.

Once someone tells me they want me to have their computer fixed, I download the updated drivers from the website (hp, asus, sony, toshiba, etc.) right away, so I'm able to fix the computer in less time. But installing drivers one by one, can take a lot of time and it is a PITA.

Because of the way I fix them, I need to be able to install the drivers fast, all at once and on an already working windows installation. Because every computer has it's own drivers, I can't work in advance and integrate drivers to the sysprepped image.

I tried DriverMagician but it can't backup drivers from a folder, in fact, all software I tried can't do that, only one called DriverForge, but I haven't been able to make it work.

Now that I explained myself, is this really possible?
My System SpecsSystem Spec

26 Aug 2011   #4

Windows 10 Pro x64

Not the way you're doing it (without an app to install them, of course), no. You'd have to slightly change the way you're doing your deployment to make it work.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
26 Aug 2011   #5

Windows 7 x64 Ultimate SP1

Everytime I reinstalled 7, I backed up the FileRepository folder which contains all drivers currently installed on a working system.

This one:

After that, reinstalling any drivers using the have disk method (i.e. Browse my computer...) gets done in a moment.

Would this method help you?
My System SpecsSystem Spec

 Force W7 update all drivers

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