Prevent Windows 8 from automatically updating a driver

Mostly it is ok to let Windows decide when to update a driver, but sometimes you may want to keep the old driver for some device. This is the case if new driver causes system instability or if the new driver limits device functionality. I for example had a serial gps mouse that did work great on Windows XP and Windows 7, but for some reason on Windows 8 the driver gave a yellow exclamation mark with the reason “The device can not start”. After a quick search around the net I found out that the device I am using has a EOL Prolific chip which won’t be supported by the producer anymore. Their newest driver was made to automatically not work with older chip. Please note that yellow exclamation mark may also be caused by counterfeit or damaged hardware.

The producers claim to simply buy new hardware, as the old one is faulty. The same thing is happening with for example older Epson printers. Printer works on W7, but quits after a few pages on W8. It may be poor engineering from their software development team, but more probably this is a marketing trick to force you to buy new hardware. I don’t see any problem in buying a new printer if the old one really got damaged or if the features of the new one are significantly better than the old one. However buying a new printer that doesn’t have any new features and limits you to using the more costly cartridges doesn’t seem really necessary to me, especially as the old one is still working.

When installing drivers I strongly suggest you to only use genuine drivers from manufacturer site. Non-original and hacked drivers or drivers from various “driver archive” sites or P2P programs may contain viruses or other malware. You may be able to install a working Windows 7 or XP drivers on Windows 8, even if original W8 driver is crippled. If a working driver is available for Windows 8, that one should be used.

For the whole process with screenshots you can check out Installing PL2303HXA driver under W8.

For USB and other plug and play devices Windows will automatically install the new driver when you plug them in or when Windows Update updates the driver. If you have already plugged in your device and let windows search for the driver it has probably already been installed on the system or at least to the DriverStore. Windows stores driver installation files in C:\Windows\System32\DriverStore\FileRepository. The files in this directory are where windows first looks for driver installation files (these files are not the drivers currently in use). If you want to install older driver for your device, you should first unplug your device from the computer and delete any previously installed drivers for your device from FileRepository directory (you should be able to identify files used by your device by folder name). You may be asked for administrator rights when deleting these files. Then you should run your driver installation file or rightclick on driver INF file and click Install. Do not plug in your device yet.

If the driver you just installed is an older version of driver you also want to make sure that Windows Update won’t just switch the driver for a newer one. Windows Update identifies driver timestamp and version by text in INF file, so you should browse to C:\Windows\System32\DriverStore\FileRepository, find the driver you just installed and edit the INF file to reflect a newer version (eg. changing major version from 3 to 4 and release date to 2020). If the system doesn’t allow you to edit INF file, copy it to Desktop, edit it there and copy it back. You may be asked for administrator rights to do that.

We have just installed new driver installation files, but the actual driver may or may not be updated. Plug in your device. If the driver is already installed go to Device Manager. Right click on your device and click Update Driver Software. Click Browse my computer for software. Click Let me pick from installed drivers. There should only be a single choice for driver, unless you are installing some very common device or you have not deleted the old driver installation files under FileRepository. Click Next. The correct driver will be installed.

You can now check in Device Manager by right-clicking your device and choosing Properties. Under tab Driver, the version and date should match what you entered into INF file earlier. The Windows Update won’t update the driver until original manufacturers driver submitted to windows surpasses either version you entered in INF file or time of release (I’m not sure which it actually checks).

If the device works ok with the driver of your choice you have accomplished your goal ๐Ÿ™‚

UPDATE: The INF file is signed in the CAT catalog of the driver, so changing it should invalidate the signature. However it seems that Windows just don’t check the signature of the INF file.

If you repost the outlined process please give me (dejko1) a credit or include the link to original post as this is original work by me ๐Ÿ˜‰

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