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Configure devices and device drivers

Skill: Resolve driver issues

One of the most common issues with device drivers relates to users attempting to install a driver designed for an earlier operating system or a different architecture. In some cases on previous versions of Windows, it might have been possible to install a Windows 7 driver on a Windows 8–based computer, but this is not a supported operation for Windows 10 and should be avoided in a production environment. As is the case with other software installations, you can’t use a 32-bit driver for a 64-bit resource. You can’t use a 64-bit driver to communicate with a 32-bit resource, either.

In this section, you review how to disable specific device driver updates and tools you can use to verify the drivers on your system.

Disable updates

Sometimes a specific update or driver will not be compatible with your system. Although all updates and drivers should be thoroughly checked before they are made available for installation, it is almost impossible to test every combination of software and hardware that can coexist on a computer. In some configurations, the new software might produce unsatisfactory results. You saw earlier that one method to avoid this situation is to turn off updates completely.

Disabling automatic driver updates might have a more widespread effect than you want, especially if you only need to disable or prevent the installation of a single driver. To enable you to block a specific update, Microsoft has released the Show Or Hide Updates troubleshooter package, available from the Microsoft Download Center at https://support.microsoft.com/kb/3073930.

This troubleshooter, shown in Figure 3-10, searches for available driver and Windows updates and then enables you to hide them, which prevents Windows from automatically installing them.

FIGURE 3-10

FIGURE 3-10 Show Or Hide Updates troubleshooter

Each time you experience an issue with a driver or update that you don’t want installed, you can run this troubleshooter and select the updates that you want to disable.

Use driver verification tools

If you encounter issues with drivers that seem to relate to malware or missing drivers, you can use a command-line tool called Sigverif.exe, which checks whether any drivers have been installed on the computer that have not been signed. The check can take several minutes to complete. To run this tool, perform the following steps.

  1. Open a command prompt. (Standard user privilege level is OK.)

  2. Type sigverif.exe and press Enter.

    The File Signature Verification Tool appears.

  3. Review the Advanced options.

  4. Click Start and view the results, as shown in Figure 3-11.

    FIGURE 3-11

    FIGURE 3-11 File Signature Verification tool

The sigverif tool is useful if you need to locate an unsigned driver, but there is a more powerful driver verification tool built into Windows 10, called the Driver Verifier Manager.

With the enhanced kernel mode operation and reliance on signed drivers, Windows 10 should be less prone to frequent Stop errors. Although less likely, even signed drivers can cause problems, especially if you have an exotic combination of hardware inside your computer. If you do encounter instability then, use the built-in Driver Verifier to discover whether a faulty driver is causing the problem.

Driver Verifier Manager can help you troubleshoot, identify, and resolve common device driver problems, and you can then remove, reinstall, or roll back the offending driver with Device Manager.

To run the series of driver tests, follow these steps.

  1. Open a command prompt (Admin), using administrative privileges.

  2. Type verifier.exe and press Enter.

    The Driver Verifier tool appears.

  3. Review the settings in the tool.

    Depending on which option you choose, you might need to restart your machine for the tool to recognize all loaded drivers.

  4. After you have selected drivers to be tested, restart the computer, restart the application, and then select Display Information About The Currently Verified Drivers.

Driver Verifier Manager tests each specified driver at startup and then enables you to perform live test of each loaded driver by a range of tests, as shown in Figure 3-12. If it detects a problem, the tool can identify the driver, and then you can disable it.

FIGURE 3-12

FIGURE 3-12 Driver Verifier Manager tool