Device Drivers in Windows 7

DriverStore is a new and a central location in Windows Vista and Windows 7 where all the driver files will be stored., before they are copied to their final destination during the device driver installation.

The location of the driver store is – C:\Windows\System32\DriverStore

Driver files are stored in folders, which are located inside the FileRepository folder as shown in the image below.

For eg: the driver package developed by Microsoft that contains the core mouse support files is present in the following folder.

C:\Windows\System32\DriverStore\FileRepository\msmouse.inf_amd64_neutral_6f653f6716c1448c

Within this folder are the driver files (.sys), driver setup files (.inf), pre-compiled INF files(.pnf), and an XML manifest file that contains the manifest of all the files within the driver package. Together, all of these different files add up to the driver package, which contains all the files needed to install the device. To protect these files, the NTFS permissions on the driver store and its sub-folders and files is full control for the local system account and Read& Execute for the Everyone built in identity.

Earlier in Windows XP and 2000, the driver source files neeeded for installing the devices were typically found in several locations.

* %SystemRoot%\Driver Cache\i386\drivers.cab
* %SystemRoot%\Driver Cache\i386\service_pack.cab
* .inf files under %windir%inf
* .sys files under %SystemRoot%\System32\Drivers
* Support DLLs under %SystemRoot%\System32
* Third Party co-installers in various locations.

Advantages of maintaining a central store:

1. Allows for potentially faster device installation and more realiable driver rollback and is a single standard for un-installing drivers.
2. Allows you to protect drivers by using the Windows Resource Protection(WRP).
3. Uses index files to minimize the performance impact on installing devices when the driver store grows in size as a result of new package additions.

Enjoy! 😀

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