Where does Windows 10 Store Device Drivers

Where does Windows 10 Store Device Drivers

Just like its predecessors, Windows 10 also maintains a driver cache under the “Driverstore” directory. Users can manually point to this driver directory to reinstall device drivers. For newer driver updates, you would still need to go to the Windows Update. If you want to know where does windows 10 store device drivers, read along.

Where does Windows 10 Store Device Drivers

Every time when Windows 10 detects a new device, Windows 10 will attempt to locate a suitable matching driver file. Windows 10 driver-store maintains a list of device drivers. from where it can install a driver for a new device. The location where Windows 10 maintains the device drivers are located in the following location:

C:WindowsSystem32DriverStore

Where does Windows 10 Store Device Drivers

The operating system maintains this collection (of device drivers) in a secure location on the local hard disk, typically on the C: drive. With Windows Vista onwards, in order to provide better stability, it is mandatory to use only the device driver packages from the driver-store located at C:WindowsSystem32DriverStore.

By default, Windows will search for driver packages from this location and well as online and perform the search in two phases:

  • Before a driver is installed: Driver Store (Mentioned Above)
  • After initial driver is selected: Online (Windows Update, requires the Internet)

In the driver store, you will see different driver files (For a Single Device) within this folder and they are as follows:

  • driver files (.sys)
  • driver setup files (.inf)
  • pre-compiled INF files(.pnf)
  • XML manifest file

A combination of all these together comprises a single driver package. These contain all the necessary files needed to install a device. The location is secured with NTFS permissions in order to protect these files. However, with Full control permission, a local system account can Read & Execute or manipulate the files stored in this location.

When a new device is found, the local driver is used to initialize the device quickly and in parallel. Windows downloads the latest release from the Online Windows Update driver store and stages it into the local store.

Also See: How to See and Export the list of all Drivers installed on your PC

Official Documentation:

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