How To Install Driver Files

How a driver is saved and packaged determines how it is installed. Below is information about each of the methods developers use to distribute their drivers and install them in Microsoft Windows. Additionally, there are some general insights to help prevent frustrations during the process.

Tip

In most situations, the drivers are installed after the hardware has been installed or connected to the computer. How to get apps for computer. If you need help installing hardware, see: How to install computer hardware.

Drivers from a CD or DVD

Almost all computer and hardware manufacturers include a group of drivers for different hardware devices and often for each of the supported versions of Windows. For example, the driver CD you receive with your printer likely contains the drivers for many different printers and may not have the printer you purchased. When installing the drivers, make sure you are install the drivers for your printer and not another printer model. Also, make sure you are installing it for the version of Windows you are running on your computer.

Below is an example of how a file structure may look on your disc.

Tips for better search results. Ensure correct spelling and spacing - Examples: 'paper jam' Use product model name: - Examples: laserjet pro p1102, DeskJet 2130 For HP products a product number. Examples: LG534UA For Samsung Print products, enter the M/C.

For example, if you had a PrinterA200 and were using Windows XP, you would find your drivers in the PrinterA200WinXP folder. Once the location of the drivers is found, you must determine how the drivers are packaged. If the folder contains executable files or a setup file, you can install the driver using an executable. If the directory contains .inf files, you can install the driver using an inf or use the 'have disk' option during the install.

Tip
  • Device and Driver Installation.; 2 minutes to read; t; In this article. This section explains how devices and drivers are installed in Windows. If you are unfamiliar with the device and driver installation process, we recommend that you start by reviewing Roadmap for Device and Driver Installation.
  • Unzipping - the driver. Windows 10 or 8.1 - Save the zip file to a location of your choosing. Once you have the zip file downloaded, open the zip file (Windows built in zipping program). Copy the folder inside to a new folder. It will unzip the contents, (this is the folder you will need when you are doing the steps below).

How To Install Driver Files Manually

If you have a CD with drivers, but the computer has no functioning disc drive, you can also download the drivers. Or, if you have access to another computer, you can copy the drivers from the CD to a USB flash drive. For help with copying files, see: How to copy files.

How To Install Driver Files

Installing drivers from a USB drive or floppy

After the drivers are copied to a USB flash drive, floppy, or another drive, they can also be installed from that drive. Once the drive is connected to the computer, open Windows Explorer and then the drive letter for the computer drive. For example, if you have a USB drive that is assigned the E: drive when connected, you would open the E: drive.

Once the drivers are found on the drive, you must determine how the drivers are packaged. If the directory contains executable files or a setup file, you can install the driver using an executable. If the directory contains .inf files, you can install the driver using an inf or use the 'have disk' option during the install. If the drivers are compressed into a .zip file, you need to uncompress the file.

Downloading and installing a driver

TipUsing

If you have not yet downloaded the drivers, you can find drivers for your computer through the computer or device manufacturer. For links to the websites of prominent computer hardware manufacturers, see our hardware drivers index.

Tip

If you're downloading drivers to install on another device, you can copy or extract the files to a USB flash drive and connect it to the other computer.

After the drivers are downloaded, you must determine how the drivers are packaged. If the directory contains executable files or a setup file, you can install the driver using an executable. If the directory contains .inf files, you can install the driver using an inf or use the 'have disk' option during the install. If the drivers are compressed into a .zip file, you need to uncompress the file.

Tip

When extracting the drivers, remember where the folder containing the drivers is located since it needs to be known during the driver installation process. We recommend extracting files to a folder on the Windows desktop, as it's an easy place to remember.

Installing a driver from an executable

Today, many computer and hardware manufacturers are pre-packaging their drivers into executable files or have the drivers installed through the setup file. Double-clicking the executable or setup file should install the drivers to the computer for you.

Note

The executable may be packaged in a compressed file, which means before looking for the setup file, it needs to be uncompressed. For help with uncompressing a file, see: How to extract or decompress a compressed file. If, after uncompressing the file, it still doesn't contain an executable file, setup file, or doesn't install your hardware device, continue with the below recommendations.

Finally, if you're successful with installing your drivers and the computer asks to reboot the computer, make sure to reboot the computer after the driver is installed.

Using the 'have disk' option to install drivers

A computer or hardware manufacturer may place the drivers on a CD, diskette, or folder on the hard drive for Windows to find and use during its hardware detection. Below are steps on how to install drivers for a new device and upgrade a device's driver for this setup.

Installing a new device

  1. Open the Windows Device Manager.
  2. In the Device Manager, make sure the device you are attempting to install is not already listed from past install attempts. If the device is found, highlight and remove it from Device Manager to prevent any conflicts during the install.
  1. Once Device Manager looks okay, reboot the computer.
  2. As the computer is rebooting, an Install new hardware wizard should appear if Windows detects the new hardware. Using this wizard, point Windows to the folder containing your drivers on the CD, diskette, USB flash drive, or the folder containing the files you downloaded.

If Windows does not detect any new hardware, open the Control Panel and double-click the Add hardware icon to run the hardware detection wizard. During the steps, you have the option to install custom Windows drivers from a location on disk. Choose to load drivers, then select the folder containing the drivers for your device.

Note

The 'Add hardware' icon is only available in Windows XP and prior versions of Windows.

Once drivers are installed, reboot the computer.

Upgrading drivers for a pre-existing device

  1. Open the Windows Device Manager.
  2. In the Device Manager, locate the device you want to update.
  3. Right-click the device and click Properties.
  4. In the Properties window, click the Driver tab.
  5. Click the Update Driver button.
  6. In the Hardware Update Wizard, point Windows to the location of the updated driver files on your hard drive.

Once drivers are installed, reboot the computer.

Install a driver using a .inf file

Finally, if the above recommendations don't work, the installation instructions for drivers and hardware devices can be contained in the driver .inf file.

Files

Locate the .inf file for your version of Windows. Right-click that file and choose the option for install.

Note

Make sure you install the correct .inf file and not a .inf file for another device or a different version of Windows.

Once you have right-clicked and installed the driver, reboot the computer.

One of the above three recommendations should have installed or updated the drivers successfully onto the computer. If you are still having difficulties getting the device to install, it is possible you are not encountering a hardware issue and not an issue with the drivers. Refer to the troubleshooting steps for your hardware device for additional help and information.

Additional information

  • See the driver definition for further information and related links.