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I am trying to fix some network problems and doing network driver update.

After entering into driver selection menu, I got the following window

enter image description here

How is it possible to select? No versions, no paths, just numerous identical names.


My question is: where does Windows store these drivers? How to find them on disk and may be delete (wipe out)?


Unfortunately, neither pnputil nor Driver Store Explorer (RAPR) shows anything in correspondence with what device manager shows.

You can see below, that there is only one Realtek driver in driver store and this one can't be deleted since it is in use. Simultaneously, device manager shows four alternatives:

enter image description here

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If you have a driver stored somewhere, why don't you use that one, instead of relying on those Windows has by default? What motherboard / network board do you have? – Doktoro Reichard Aug 31 '13 at 23:08
I have ASUS P7P55-M with integrated LAN. I would not try to choose something if it work. – Dims Aug 31 '13 at 23:21
Just go to the ASUS Support page download the correct LAN driver and install it. – Doktoro Reichard Aug 31 '13 at 23:24
They has no Windows 8 driver. Windows 7 driver does not work. – Dims Aug 31 '13 at 23:39
As you didn't said you were using Windows 8... – Doktoro Reichard Aug 31 '13 at 23:40

Windows stores the drivers in a folder called Driver Store:


You can use pnputil to enum and uninstall older driver version.

Because such command line tools are hard to use, an user coded a GUI and published the tool DriverStore Explorer and hosted it on codeplex.

enter image description here

Run the tool, sort by the column "pk provider" and delete the old realtek drivers you don't need.

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Although Device Manager does not reveal driver details in the Update Driver Software prompt, we can locate the .inf files and look at details such as date, version number manually. These are the main steps:

  1. Find out vendor ID and device ID of the network adapter.
  2. Find out where Windows stores driver INF (information files for hardware drivers we need).
  3. Search inside .inf files to see which ones contain information about the network adapter with the device ID found in step 1.
  4. Compare .inf files found in step 3 in a text editor.
  5. [Optional] Remove the driver files you don't need.

Below is a step-by-step walkthrough.

First, go to Device Manager (devmgmt.msc). Right-click on the desired network adapter and choose 'Properties.

device manager properties

In 'Details' tab, select 'Hardware IDs' in 'Property'. Take note of the vendor ID (VEN_xxxx) and device ID (DEV_xxxx).

(In this example, we will only use the device ID to simplify the illustration. In case more accuracy is desired, you should include vendor ID in your searching as well.)

device manager details hardware ids

Run Registry Editor (regedit). Take note of the value of 'DevicePath' string in the below key:


registry devicePath

(In case you have multiple DevicePath values separated by semi-colons, you need to perform the below process multiple times.)

After collecting all the information we need (i.e. device ID and value of DevicePath), find out which .inf files in the 'DevicePath' folders contain our device ID.

You may use a graphical tool like Agent Ransack. Instead, here I use the find command in Command Prompt (cmd).

Input these two lines where '_8136' is my device ID and '%systemroot%\inf' is my DevicePath. Change them as you need.

find "_8136" "%systemroot%\inf\*.inf" > results.txt
notepad results.txt

find device id in DevicePath with cmd

The last command fires up Notepad with a temporary file named 'results.txt'. Look for our device ID there and take note of the .inf files that contains it (highlighted in blue).

results in notepad

Finally, open the INF files (NETRT630X86.INF and OEM21.INF in this example) side by side to see the driver details, such as date, version number (highlighted), whether they come from Microsoft or manufacturers, etc.

inf compare

Optionally, to remove drivers, it would be better to use uninstallers in 'Control Panel > Programs and Features'. However, if there isn't one, we may do so manually by removing the driver files.

If all we want is to prevent the driver from showing in the Update Driver Software prompt, we can simply move the .inf files outside DevicePath (c:\Windows\inf in this example). Here I will move away one of the .inf file found above. Let's see the difference before and after it.

Before INF removal:

before inf removal

After INF removal:

after inf removal

However, this only removes the *.inf file, you might also want to remove its assocated .pnf, .sys and other driver-related files. The latter should be stated in the .inf file.

Reminder: Always make backups first before doing any important change to system.

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I have wiped out all *.inf files with my device id (which is _8186). Searching shows no inf files in the path. Simultaneously, device manager found a driver automatically and it turned installed. Simultaneously, manual update shows two identical options. – Dims Sep 14 '13 at 20:33
@Dims for me this is not so. I see a date/time behind it:… – magicandre1981 Sep 15 '13 at 6:01

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