The easiest way for a systems administrator to determine which device driver is associated with a particular piece of hardware in Windows is to look up the device's entry in the Device Manager.
But one big drawback of the Device Manager is that the manifest of hardware it gives you is by device, not device driver.
A free utility called DriverView fills this gap nicely, despite being a bit limited in its functionality. But for a free tool with no strings attached to how it can be used, DriverView is hard to beat, and it's already helped me identify a few drivers on several of my systems which I didn't even know existed there, and whose presence was slightly suspect. DriverView is from Nir Sofer, so it requires no installation (none of his utilities do) and can run anywhere, making it perfect for a USB drive or other portable application collection. When run, it polls the computer it's running on and produces a manifest of every currently loaded device driver, including the driver's name; its loaded address; description, revision and manufacturer information(if any); and a path to the image for the driver.
Double-click on any of the entries in the list and you'll get a detailed view where any of the relevant data can be copied out line by line. The driver manifest can also be saved as a file in CSV, plaintext, HTML or XML formats.
There are a few easy tricks you can do with the program.
- To quickly find out if you have any questionable device drivers loaded, sort the manifest by Company or Product Name; anything non-Microsoft will instantly stand out.
- Sort by the Created Date or Modified Date columns and you can break out which drivers have been modified after the fact (i.e., by Windows Update or by manual changes).
These tricks can also help you figure out if a given driver was in fact updated to a more recent version after you apply an update.
Now for the limitations. Unlike some of Nir Sofer's other tools, you can't poll a remote computer for its driver manifest (at least, not yet). You also can't make any changes to the driver's configurations through this program; you'd have to many any such changes manually—for instance, by editing their corresponding service entries in the Registry at HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Services (if any are listed for them).
About the author: Serdar Yegulalp is editor ofWindows Insight (formerly the Windows Power Users Newsletter), a blog site devoted to hints, tips, tricks and news for users and administrators of Windows NT, Windows 2000, Windows XP, Windows Server 2003 and Vista. He has more than 12 years of experience working with Windows, and contributes regularly to SearchWinComputing.com and other TechTarget sites.
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