Installing and updating device drivers
Device drivers are essential to the proper operation
of Windows Server 2012. A faulty device driver can cause many
problems on your systems—everything from unexpected restarts to
application hangs to blue screens. To make it easier to detect and
diagnose problems, you should maintain an inventory of all installed device drivers on systems
you manage. Previously, I talked about using the Driverquery command to obtain a list of drivers for
computers throughout the network. Ideally, the driver information
should be stored on a centralized network share rather than on
individual computers, or it could be printed out and placed in a
binder where it is easily accessible. You should then periodically
check manufacturer websites for known problems with related device
drivers and for updated drivers. Windows Update can also help you
because driver updates are made available through this service and
can be installed automatically.
Although you can be fairly certain drivers obtained through
Windows Update are newer than installed versions, this isn’t the
case for drivers you download yourself, and you should always
double-check the driver version information before installation. As discussed
previously, the current driver version is displayed in the driver’s
Properties dialog box, as shown in Figure 12. Double-tap or
double-click the device in Device Manager to display the driver’s
Properties dialog box, and then select the Driver tab, as shown in
Figure 12. Be sure
to check the driver date as well as the driver version.
Figure 12. Check the current driver version and date.
Next, check the driver version information for the driver you
downloaded. To do this, extract the downloaded driver files to a
folder. In the folder, you should find .dll or .sys files. Press and
hold or right-click one of these files, and choose Properties. Then,
in the Properties dialog box, tap or click the Version tab to find
the version information.
To continue with the installation of downloaded drivers, check
to see whether the driver download includes a Setup program. If it does, run this program so that
the proper files are copied to your system. If the drivers aren’t
installed as part of setup, you can install and update the drivers
using the Update Driver Software Wizard. The wizard can search
for updated device drivers in the following locations:
In Group Policy, the main policy that controls access to
Windows Update is Turn Off Access To All Windows Update Features. This
policy is under Computer Configuration\Administrative
Templates\System\Internet Communication Management\Internet
Communication Settings. If you enable this policy setting, all
Windows Update features are blocked and not available to users.
Users will also be unable to access the Windows Update website. In
early releases of the Windows operating system, other policies could
be used to control driver search locations and driver search
prompts. However, these policies do not apply to current Windows
You can install and update device drivers by following these steps:
In Computer Management, select the Device Manager node.
You should now see a complete list of devices installed on the
system. By default, this list is organized by device
Press and hold or right-click the device you want to
manage, and then select Update Driver Software. This starts the
Update Driver Software Wizard.
You can specify whether you want to install the drivers
automatically or manually by selecting the driver from a list or
Updated drivers can add functionality to a device,
improve performance, and resolve device problems. However, you
should rarely install the latest drivers on a user’s computer
without first testing them in a test environment. Test first,
If you elect to install the driver automatically, Windows
Server 2012 looks for a more recent version of the device driver
and installs the driver if found. If a more recent version of
the driver is not found, Windows Server 2012 keeps the current
driver. In either case, tap or click Close to complete the
process and then skip the remaining steps.
If you chose to install the driver manually, you’ll next
have the opportunity to do one of the following:
Search for the driver
If you want to search for drivers, tap or click Browse to
select a search location. Use the Browse For Folder dialog
box to select the start folder for the search, and then tap
or click OK. Because all subfolders of the selected folder
are searched automatically, you can select the drive root
path, such as C, to search an entire drive.
Choose the driver to
install If you want to choose the driver to install,
tap or click Let Me Pick From A List Of Device Drivers On My Computer. The wizard then
displays a list of common hardware types. Select the
appropriate hardware type, such as Modems or Network
Adapters, and then tap or click Next. Scroll through the
list of manufacturers to find the manufacturer of the
device, and then choose the appropriate device in the right
If the manufacturer or device you want to use isn’t
listed, insert the media containing the device driver disc or
USB flash drive, and then tap or click Have Disk. Follow the
prompts. Afterward, select the appropriate device.
After selecting a device driver through a search or a
manual selection, continue through the installation process by tapping or clicking Next.
Tap or click Close when the driver installation is completed. If
the wizard can’t find an appropriate driver, you need to obtain
one and then repeat this procedure. Keep in mind that in some
cases you’ll need to restart the computer to activate the newly
installed or updated device driver.