Windows Server 2012 : Managing and Troubleshooting Hardware (part 3) - Installing new devices

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Installing new devices

After you install or connect a new hardware device, you must set up the device so that it is available for use. Most available new devices are Plug and Play compatible. Plug and Play is optimized to support USB, FireWire, eSATA, PCIe, and ExpressCard devices. When you connect a Plug and Play device for the first time, Windows Server 2012 reads the Plug and Play identification tag contained in the device’s firmware and then searches its master list of identification tags (which is created from the Setup Information files in the Inf folder). If the operating system finds a signed driver with a matching identification tag, it installs the driver and makes the device available for use automatically. Notifications are displayed only if there’s a problem. Otherwise, the installation process just happens in the background.

This means you should be able to install new devices easily by using one of the following techniques:

  • For an internal device, simply shut down the computer, insert the card into the appropriate slot or connect the device as appropriate, start the computer, and then let Windows Server 2012 automatically detect the new device.

  • For a USB, FireWire, or eSATA device, simply insert the device into the appropriate slot or connect it to the computer and then let Windows Server 2012 automatically detect the new device.

Depending on the device, Windows Server 2012 should automatically install a built-in driver to support the new device as discussed previously. The device should then function immediately without any problems. Well, that’s the idea, but it doesn’t always work out that way. The success of an automatic detection and installation depends on the device being Plug and Play compatible and a device driver being available.

Windows Server 2012 includes many device drivers in a standard installation, and in this case, it should install the device automatically. If driver updating is allowed through Windows Update, Windows Server 2012 checks for drivers automatically using Windows Update either when you connect a new device or when it first detects the device. Because Windows Update does not automatically install device drivers, you need to check for available updates to install the driver.

Testing new drivers

All device drivers provided through Windows Update have been thoroughly tested in the Windows Hardware Quality Labs (WHQL), and you should be able to count on them not to cause your system to crash or become unstable. However, just because driver updates are available doesn’t mean you should install them. In a production environment, you’ll rarely want to download and install new device drivers without thoroughly testing them yourself first. Better safe than sorry—always. Typically, you install new device drivers because you are experiencing problems with the old drivers or looking for new functionality. If you aren’t experiencing problems or don’t require the additional functionality, you might not want to update the drivers.

You’ll know a new device installed because it will be available for you to use. You also can confirm device availability in either Devices And Printers or Device Manager:

  • From Control Panel, you can open Devices And Printers by tapping or clicking View Devices And Printers under the Hardware heading.

  • From Server Manager, you can open Device Manager by selecting Computer Management on the Tools menu and then selecting Device Manager in the left pane of Computer Management.

Keep in mind that Windows Server might automatically detect the new device, but the Driver Software Installation component might run into problems installing the device. If this happens, the installation silently fails. You’ll know installation failed because the device will not be available for you to use. In Devices And Printers, you should see warning icons for both the computer and the device. In this case, if you touch or move the mouse pointer over the computer device, you should see error status messages, such as the following:

Status: Driver is unavailable

Status: Driver Error

When you tap or click the computer device, the details pane should show the Needs Troubleshooting status. After a failed installation, you can attempt to install the device by following these steps:

  1. In Devices And Printers, press and hold or right-click the device and then select Properties.

  2. In the Properties dialog box, on the Hardware tab, tap or click the Properties button.

  3. Tap or click Change Settings and then tap or click Update Driver. This starts the Update Driver Software Wizard.

  4. Specify whether you want to install the drivers automatically or manually by selecting the driver from a list or specific location. (See Figure 3.)


    Updated drivers can add functionality to a device, improve performance, and resolve device problems. However, you should rarely install the latest drivers on a computer without first testing them in a test environment. Test first, then install.

    Choose to install drivers automatically or manually.
    Figure 3. Choose to install drivers automatically or manually.
  5. If you elect to search automatically for the driver and Device Installation Settings allow this, Windows Server checks for the device driver using either Windows Update or WSUS. Then, if a driver is available, Windows Server downloads it and installs it automatically. In this case, tap or click Close to complete the process and then skip the remaining steps.

  6. If you chose to install the driver manually, you’ll have the opportunity to do one of the following, as shown in Figure 4:

    • Search for the driver If you want to search for drivers, tap or click Browse to select a search location. Use the Browse For Folder dialog box to select the start folder for the search, and then tap or click OK. Because all subfolders of the selected folder are searched automatically, you can select the drive root path, such as C, to search an entire drive.

    • Choose a driver to install If you want to choose the driver to install, tap or click Let Me Pick From A List Of Device Drives On My Computer. The wizard then displays a list of common hardware types. Select the appropriate hardware type, such as Storage Controllers or Network Adapters, and then tap or click Next. Scroll through the list of manufacturers to find the manufacturer of the device, and then choose the appropriate device in the right pane.


      If the manufacturer or device you want to use isn’t listed, insert the media containing the device driver disc or USB flash drive, and then tap or click Have Disk. Follow the prompts. Afterward, select the appropriate device.

      Search for or select a driver to install.
      Figure 4. Search for or select a driver to install.
  7. After selecting a device driver through a search or a manual selection, continue through the installation process by tapping or clicking Next. Tap or click Close when the driver installation is completed. If the wizard can’t find an appropriate driver, you need to obtain one and then repeat this procedure. Keep in mind that in some cases you’ll need to restart the system to activate the newly installed device driver.


If the wizard fails to install the device, there might be a problem with the device itself or the driver, or a conflict with existing hardware.

After you successfully install a device, you need to perform maintenance tasks periodically for the device and its drivers. When new drivers for a device are released, you might want to test them in a development or support environment to see whether the drivers resolve problems that users have been experiencing or include the new functionality you are looking for. If the drivers install without problems and resolve outstanding issues, you might then want to install the updated drivers on computers that use this device. On a server operating system, you can implement the driver update procedure as follows:

  1. Check the device and driver information on each system prior to installing the new driver. Note the location, version, and file name of the existing driver.

  2. Install the updated driver. If the computer and the device function normally, consider the update a success.

  3. If the computer or the device malfunctions after the driver installation, roll back to the previously installed driver using the standard Device Manager utilities. If you cannot restart the computer and restore the driver, you might need to start the computer in Safe Mode or use Startup Repair to restore the system.

Configuring the device installation timeout
By default, Windows Server waits 300 seconds for device installation tasks to complete and then terminates the installation. Using the Configure Device Installation Time-out policy, you can override the default setting and specify a different timeout value. This policy is found under Computer Configuration\Administrative Templates\System\Device Installation.
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