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v5 - Adding drivers to WinPE rescue media

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v5 - Adding drivers to WinPE rescue media



This article addresses the process of adding drivers to the WinPE rescue media.

1. Why do I need to add drivers to WinPE ?
2. What devices should I add drivers for ?
3. What makes up a device driver and where do I get one ?
4. How do I check if my devices require drivers adding to WinPE ?
5. How do I update the driver software of a device ?


1. Why do I need to add drivers to WinPE

While WinPE is packaged with a large collection of drivers, there are many devices that are not part of the WinPE list of drivers.  In order for your device to be recognised by WinPE, you will need to add a driver so that it gets loaded at boot time of WinPE and allows WinPE to "communicate" with your device.


2. What devices should I add drivers for ?

The main devices to be concerned with are hard drive/RAID controllers, network interface cards (NIC) or USB controllers and USB hubs.  The first question that needs to be addressed is:

How will I be backing up or restoring in WinPE ?

If you intend to use a network device then you will obviously need to ensure that your NIC is supported in WInPE.  If your hard drives are attached to a RAID controller then you will need to ensure that your RAID Controller is supported in WinPE, either by a WinPE driver or by adding a driver.  And so on, apply this basic methodology until all required devices have support.


3. What makes up a device driver and where do I get one ?

A device driver is a collection of files (also referred to as a driver package) and generally comprises of:
  • The actual driver software.  These files have a .SYS extension.
  • The driver information, or INF, file which contains the installation instructions for the drivers.  These files have a .INF extension.
  • An optional security catalog which signs the drivers for operating system which require signed drivers, commonly used on x64 operating systems.  These files have a .CAT extension.
  • One or more optional supporting software library files (Dynamic Link Library) which contain further code to support the driver software.  These files have a .DLL extension.

Your best source for driver packages is the CD that came with your device (or motherboard) or download from the vendor website as a ZIP file.  When download a package from the vendor website, it is best to source a ZIP package for easy extraction.


4. How do I check if my devices require drivers adding to WinPE ?

By using the Macrium Reflect option to Create Rescue Media.  This wizard in Macrium Reflect contains a step which will do all the hard work for you.  It will build a list of devices in your computer that are either hard drive/RAID controllers, network interface cards, USB controllers or USB hubs.  For each of these devices it will check if:
  • The device is supported by default in WinPE
  • There is a compatible driver in the host operating system (this is only done for Vista and later systems).
  • There is a compatible driver already present in the collection of drivers on previously created rescue media.
Unsupported devices it will be presented in the list of devices with a warning icon and a Status text of Device Detected.  Supported devices will have a Status of either:
  • Device Support in WinPE.
  • Compatible Device Support in WinPE.
  • Copy Host Driver.
  • Driver already present in Drivers folder.
Following is a screen-shot of the drivers step in the Create Rescue Media wizard




5. How do I update the driver software of a device ?

The first thing to note is that it is not necessary to add drivers for devices that are not supported in WinPE, the Rescue Media wizard will not force you to ensure that all devices are supported.  The simple reason for this is that you may not be using certain devices when in WinPE, eg: NIC or USB controllers/hubs.  The other thing to note is that you can update driver software as well.  If a device is already supported you can use a different driver, you do not have to use the driver provided by WinPE for a device.  This may prove useful if you are experiencing issues when performing backups/restores in WinPE, e.g.: slow restores from a USB device.

Once you have identified the drivers that you want to update:
  • Select it by left clicking it in the list of devices.
  • Click the Update Driver button.  This will present another wizard.  This wizard is relatively straightforward to use, the first page prompts you for a folder to scan for drivers and whether you want to include all sub-folders.




Click Next once a folder is selected and the wizard will scan for drivers.  The wizard will automatically include the host operating system drivers if you do not choose to scan that folder.  Once complete a list of results will be displayed, select the driver from the list you want to use and click the Finish button, this driver will then be copied to the WinPE disc.  Clicking Cancel will abandon the process and not update any drivers.  A sample screen-shot of the final page is below.





6. How do I make a bootable rescue environment that is compatible with multiple computers?

Note: This technique only works with usb media.

Use the Rescue media wizard to create a bootable usb rescue device on one computer, and then repeat the process with each other computer in turn using the same usb device. 


Search terms:
Adding drivers to WinPE
Update drivers in WinPE
Universal WinPE for multiple computers
tag:restore
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Last Modified:16 Dec 2013

Last Modified By: Administrator

Type: Tutorial

Level: Novice

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