Windows 7 / Getting Started

Driver Store and Driver Packaging

Introduced in Windows Vista, the driver store is a central location where all driver files are stored before they are copied to their final destinations during device installation. The location of the driver store on a Windows Vista or later system is the following:


Driver files are stored in folders called driver packages, which are located within the FileRepository subfolder under the preceding path. For example, the driver package developed by Microsoft that contains core mouse support files is contained in the following folder:


Within this folder are the driver (.sys) files, driver setup (.inf) files, Precompiled INF (.pnf) files, and an Extensible Markup Language (XML) manifest (.man) file that contains the manifest of all the files within the driver package. Together, all these files add up to the driver package, which contains all the files needed to install the device. To protect these driver files, the NTFS File System (NTFS) permissions on the driver store and all its subfolders and files is Full Control for the LocalSystem account and Read and Execute for the Everyone built-in identity.

This central store and driver package architecture is different from Windows XP, where driver source files needed for installing devices are typically found in several locations, including the following:

  • %SystemRoot%\Driver Cache\I386\
  • %SystemRoot%\Driver Cache\I386\ (for example,
  • .inf files under %Windir%\Inf
  • .sys files under %SystemRoot%\System32\Drivers
  • Support dynamic-link libraries (DLLs) under %SystemRoot%\System32
  • Third-party co-installers in various locations

The following benefits result from maintaining a single, central store as an authoritative point from which to install driver files when new PnP devices are detected:

  • Allows for potentially faster device installations, more reliable driver rollback, and a single standard for uninstalling drivers
  • Allows you to protect drivers by using WRP
  • Uses index files to minimize the performance impact on installing devices when the driver store grows in size as a result of the addition of new packages
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In this tutorial:

  1. Managing Devices and Services
  2. Understanding Device Installation and Management
  3. Device Enhancements in Windows 7
  4. Display Enhancements in Windows 7
  5. Understanding Device Installation
  6. Driver Store and Driver Packaging
  7. Driver Staging vs Installation
  8. Driver Staging and Installation Process
  9. Detailed Installation Process
  10. Managing Driver Packages
  11. Using PnPutil.exe
  12. Using Dism.exe
  13. Driver Signing
  14. Driver Ranking
  15. Installing and Using Devices
  16. Enhancements to the Device Installation Experience in Windows 7
  17. Scenario 1: Driver found in Driver Store
  18. Scenario 2: Driver found on Windows Update
  19. Scenario 3: Driver in Driver Store, But Better Driver on Windows Update
  20. Scenario 5: No Driver Can Be Found for the device
  21. Scenario 6: Vendor -supplied media is available
  22. Scenario 7: Additional Device Software is Available For Download from vendor
  23. Configuring Device Installation Settings
  24. Using the Devices And Printers Folder
  25. Understanding Device Stage
  26. Understanding the Device Experience Architecture
  27. Device Containers
  28. Device display object
  29. Device Metadata System
  30. Managing Device Installation Using Group Policy
  31. Managing Device Installation Behavior
  32. Managing Driver Installation Behavior
  33. Blocking Installation of Removable Devices
  34. Managing Device Redirection Behavior
  35. Troubleshooting Device Installation
  36. Using Windows Error Reporting
  37. Using the SetupAPI Log File
  38. Using Driver INF Files
  39. Using Device Manager Error Codes
  40. Using Driver Verifier
  41. Repairing Driver Store Corruption
  42. Repairing Index File Corruption
  43. Understanding Power Management
  44. Power Management Enhancements in Windows 7
  45. New Power Policies in Windows 7
  46. Configuring Power Management Settings
  47. Configuring Power Management Settings Using the Power Options Utility in Control Panel
  48. Configuring Power Management Settings Using Group Policy
  49. Configuring Power Management Settings Using the Powercfg Utility
  50. Understanding Services
  51. Service Enhancements in Windows 7
  52. Managing Services
  53. Managing Services Using Task Manager
  54. Managing Services Using the Sc.exe Command